New England in Brief

Friday March 15, 2013

Vt. orders Moretown landfill to close

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources has ordered the Moretown landfill to close, citing odor problems and groundwater pollution.

Neighbors have complained about the landfill for years. The state letter ordering the closure cited 359 complaints of excessive odor in the 18 months ended last month, 265 of which had been confirmed by a consultant. The state also cites excessive arsenic, manganese and iron in groundwater tested at the landfill boundary and on a neighboring property.

The landfill’s parent company, Advanced Disposal, has spent at least $450,000 as part of an effort to control the odors.

The closure would leave the state with only one landfill for disposal of its trash -- in the northern Vermont town of Coventry.

Advanced Disposal says it expects to appeal the decision.

Vt. House panel approves gas tax increase

MONTPELIER (AP) -- A Vermont House committee has approved a gasoline tax increase to take effect over two years.

The House Transportation Committee voted 10-0 with one member absent Thursday to approve a 2 percent sales tax on gasoline that would take effect in June. In July of 2014, the sales tax would go up another 2 cents on a dollar, to 4 percent.

Meanwhile, in fiscal 2015, the cents-per-gallon tax would drop by nearly 6 cents from its current level of 19 cents per gallon. The upshot would be nearly $26 million more in gasoline taxes collected by the state.

Lawmakers have been looking for ways to shore up transportation revenues. Declining sales of gasoline have cut into revenues from gasoline taxes that historically have been raised mainly on a per-gallon basis.

Vt. panel takes testimony on immigrant licenses

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The chairman of a Vermont Senate committee says there’s no guarantee that a bill will pass out of committee in the coming weeks that would allow immigrant farmworkers in the country illegally to get driver’s licenses.

Sen. Transportation Committee Chairman Dick Mazza said Thursday that the bill has a lot of issues that need to be resolved before it can be voted on by the committee and then the full Senate.

The committee took testimony from advocates, and the commissioners of the Vermont Department of Public Safety and the Motor Vehicles Department.

Vermont dairy farms employ an estimated 1,500 Mexican farmworkers who say they are isolated in rural areas and have to ask farmers or others for rides to the grocery store or doctor.

Vt. wind project makes less power
than expected

SHEFFIELD (AP) -- Officials say the Sheffield wind-power project generated less electricity than expected last year because of lower-than-expected wind speeds on the Vermont mountain where it is located and other factors.

But the owner of the 16-turbine project in Sheffield, First Wind, says the company is confident that over the life of the project it will meet expectations.

In a letter to the Sheffield select board, Sheffield Wind operations manager Brad Drake says that in 2012 the project generated approximately 81 million kilowatts of electricity, enough to power about 12,300 homes.

First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne said that figure is about 15 percent less power than expected, but so far this year the project is performing well.

The project also paid Sheffield $520,000 in property taxes.

Budget cuts could affect Nashua airport

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) -- Federal, state and local officials are lobbying to keep the control tower at the Nashua Airport open, following an FAA notice that it’s among 189 nationwide slated for closure following automatic budget cuts.

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood sent Tuesday, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte and Reps. Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter said the airport plays a vital role in the region by lessening congestion at other airports.

State Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement also wrote a letter, saying the airport supports more than 100 businesses.

The airport’s runway recently underwent a $25 million upgrade and expansion.

N.H. panel considering smaller gas tax hike

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The tax-writing committee for New Hampshire’s House is being asked to consider a smaller tax hike on gas and diesel fuel to pay for highway improvements.

The Ways and Means Committee held a hearing Thursday on a 15-cent proposed hike phased in over four years on gas and six years on diesel. State Rep. John Cebrowski, a Bedford Republican, proposed instead phasing in a 7-cent increase. Cebrowski said he’s a fiscal conservative who can’t support the higher increase but recognizes the need to beef up the funding going to road and bridge repairs.

The committee also is considering a 12-cent increase.

The House voted 207-163 to send the bill to the committee, which must bring it back to the House for a final vote.

Several records set in N.H. fishing program

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire’s Fish and Game Department says several state records have been set in its 2012 Trophy Fish Program among fishing enthusiasts.

Andrew White of Vernon, Vt., caught a 30-inch channel catfish out of the Connecticut River in Hinsdale weighing 11 pounds, 6.88 ounces. Earlier, he caught a 10-pound one in the same waters that measured 30.75 inches.

Timothy Moore Jr. of Portsmouth caught a record grey triggerfish weighing 2 pounds, 1.12 ounces and measuring 15.5 inches. And Marc Schloss of Northboro, Mass., caught a 9-pound blackfish measuring 21.25 inches in Hampton Harbor.

The department said this year’s off to a great start with a verified record northern pike caught on Feb. 16 on the Connecticut River by Kevin Phelps of Monroe. It weighed 24 pounds, 9.44 ounces.


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