New England News Collaborative

Guillermo Class just couldn’t wait any more. The reports he was getting from his two teenage sons living in Puerto Rico weren’t good. Food and water were getting to them and their mother. But not enough.

New England electricity consumers paid billions of dollars more than necessary over a three-year period. That’s the conclusion of an academic analysis sponsored by a national environmental group that suggests that natural gas suppliers withheld fuel capacity needed for electric generation at key moments on the coldest days — to the benefit of the companies' affiliates.

But some industry players and observers are skeptical at best, while one utility named in the report is calling it an outright fabrication.

Veronica Montalvo was born in Willimantic and has lived in Hartford, Middletown, Waterbury -- and, now, San Juan. She moved there earlier this year. And she weathered Hurricane Maria in her 300-year-old apartment building. She says the hours of howling winds were unbearable. The walls of her apartment were so wet they looked like they were crying. Part of her ceiling caved in.

And now, the aftermath.

The Swanton sector of U.S. Border Patrol covers nearly 300 miles of the U.S.-Canada border, including parts of New York and all of Vermont and New Hampshire.
Ryan Caron King / New England News Collaborative

Some civil rights advocates have raised concerns that U.S. Border Patrol may be infringing on people's civil rights as it carries out stops in its vast jurisdiction.

  In the small town of Warren, Vermont a so-called net zero house is being built that will not use any fossil fuel. The house has solar panels on the roof to generate electricity and pipes in the ground to capture geothermal energy for heating. It won’t be using power from the grid that was generated with fossil fuel. There are other houses like this but what makes this home unusual is that the nationally acclaimed architect building it is using an unconventional material.  

Inside Daddypops Tumble Inn Diner in Claremont, the owner’s daughter – Fallon Carter – is working behind the counter as she talks with her mom and a friend.

They’re discussing a recent incident in town that’s been all over the news. The family of a young biracial boy says local teenagers intentionally hanged their son in a lynching-style attack. He survived, but had to be airlifted to the hospital.

Connecticut’s monarch butterflies are now making their annual migration thousands of miles south to Mexico. 

Scientists have been closely watching puffin populations in the Gulf of Maine in recent years, in an effort to restore the species on certain islands. This summer, puffins and other seabird populations appear to have rebounded, but are still facing a threat from predation.

A new wave of forest loss is underway in New England, at a rate of 65 acres a day. That's the conclusion of a new regionwide study spearheaded by a Harvard University forest research group. And the authors say New England could lose more than a million acres of forest cover over the next half-century.

Canadian police have set up a tent to process all the asylum-seekers crossing illegally on this rural road connecting Champlain, New York to Hemmingford, Quebec.
Kathleen Masterson / VPR

Canada is trying to get the word out that walking into the country isn't necessarily a ticket to citizenship.

Built about 150 years ago, Mill Pond Dam in Colchester, Vt., is currently breached, but still creating a small swamp upstream.
Kathleen Masterson / VPR

Unlike large hydropower dams, where there's often serious political and emotional resistance to removal, conservationists are finding many landowners of small dams are happy to have them removed.

Vermont senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made two stops in New Hampshire on Labor Day.

Senator Sanders started his day at the annual AFL-CIO breakfast in Manchester where he spoke alongside New Hampshire senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan.

For more than half a century, a massive, oil-fired plant has been churning out electricity from an island in the heart of Maine’s Casco Bay, where sailors use its towering smokestack for navigation.

The old generator is expensive to run and dirtier than new technologies, so these days it comes on only a few times a year. Nonetheless, since December, the wires on the island have been humming pretty much nonstop.

Nine States Agree To Accelerate Emissions Reduction In Next Decade

Aug 24, 2017

The nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative consortium has settled on a proposed update to the cap-and-trade program that would call for a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the region's power plants by 2030.

In New England, 22 percent of the region's native plants are considered rare. Some of them are on the federal list of endangered species. Biologists worldwide and locally have been saving crop seeds, and seeds from other plants important to the ecosystem. 

Following the fatal violence at a white supremacist gathering in Virginia, public safety officials in Boston are preparing for weekend demonstrations on Boston Common. But they admit they’re unsure just what to expect, partly because city officials have been unable to contact organizers of a controversial rally planned for Saturday.

Low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change -- think New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. These areas suffer from poor air quality, increasing temperatures, and extreme weather.

Francisco Rodriguez wore a white prison uniform with the letters “ICE” — U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement — emblazoned in black across his back. He had a weary smile on his face as we sat down in a family meeting room at the Suffolk County House of Corrections on a recent afternoon. There were games and puzzles stocked on shelves and Sesame Street posters lining the walls. Rodriguez’s family, though, hasn’t been able to visit him since he was arrested on July 13.

“I miss everything. Honestly, I miss everything,” he said.

Over a year ago, residents near Merrimack, New Hampshire learned their drinking water had been contaminated by emissions from a plastics plant owned by the multinational company, Saint-Gobain.  

More than a year later, some residents in Merrimack say state and federal officials haven’t done enough to protect them from the contamination. Now, a few are taking things into their own hands, going door to door.

A play by Massachusetts to inject more renewable power into its electricity mix could reshape the entire region's energy landscape. Dozens of developers are competing to offer Massachusetts the best price for long-term contracts to supply clean energy to hundreds of thousands of homes. 

But many of the projects also face another challenge: convincing residents of Northern New England it's in their interest to host the Bay State's extension cord.

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