The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Air Resources Division (NHDES) is charged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate air pollutant emissions within the state through a system of permits and fees. However, the system currently faces a pressing revenue challenge: emissions of pollutants that the NHDES regulates are declining, as is the funding from federal grants. At the same time, the NHDES must comply with increasing unfunded mandates from the EPA while ensuring that the permit fee system remains fiscally afloat.
This paper presents possible solutions to this problem that New Hampshire can consider. It examines the various ways in which other states’ permitting fee programs have addressed their own fiscal solvency issues. This analysis is conducted utilizing data and other information received through interviews and correspondence with officials within these programs, as well as the limited broader literature on permitting fees.
The report begins by providing background information on the Clean Air Act, the permitting fee system in New Hampshire, and the challenges currently faced by the NHDES in maintaining its program. It then presents a number of solutions that other states have used to address their own problems and discusses how these solutions can be applied in a New Hampshire context, using data received from the NHDES and other states’ environmental agencies. The report closes with a conclusion that summarizes the key findings and their implications for New Hampshire.