NRRA Board Member Steven Bullek Appointed to NH Waste Management Council
On Wednesday, April 21, the Governor and Executive Council confirmed the nomination of Steven Bullek to serve on the New Hampshire Waste Management Council. Steve is the Public Works Director for the Town of Lee, NH and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA), a nonprofit that enables communities to manage their own recycling programs and reduce their waste. The NRRA Board submitted Steve’s name as one of three possible nominees after the Governor declined to bring NRRA’s first choice, NRRA Executive Director Reagan Bissonnette, to the Executive Council for a vote.
The Waste Management Council is responsible for consulting with and advising the Director of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) Waste Management Division with respect to policy, programs, goals and operations of the Division regarding its solid and hazardous waste management functions and responsibilities, with particular emphasis on long-range planning and public education. In addition, the Council hears and decides administrative appeals from NHDES decisions relative to the functions and responsibilities of the Division of Waste Management, such as appeals to permits issued for landfill expansions.
NH RSA 21-O:9(I)(k) indicates that the Waste Management Council shall include a “representative of communities which recycle or recover solid waste, representing the public interest, nominated by the New Hampshire Resource Recovery Association.” The New Hampshire Resource Recovery Association later changed its name to the Northeast Resource Recovery Association. Today, NRRA has over 450 municipal and associate members throughout New England, including over 80% of towns and cities in New Hampshire.
NRRA’s Executive Director has historically served as NRRA’s nominee on the Council for many years, including most recently when Michael Durfor served as NRRA’s Executive Director from 2009 to 2019. In June of 2019, Reagan Bissonnette succeeded Mike as NRRA Executive Director. When Mike submitted his resignation from the Council, NRRA submitted Reagan as NRRA’s new nominee for the Council.
As the Executive Director of NRRA, Reagan’s priority is to advance NRRA’s mission to partner with municipalities to make recycling strong through economic and environmentally sound solutions. She writes and speaks extensively on the subject of recycling and waste reduction, including in regional and national forums. Reagan has testified before the New Hampshire legislature on bills impacting solid waste and recycling matters and was recognized for her contributions to the NH HB 617 Recycling & Solid Waste Study Committee. In addition, if appointed to the Waste Management Council, Reagan would have brought valuable new perspectives as the only lawyer on the Council, only the second woman on the Council, and the youngest member of the Council.
Rather than bring Reagan’s name to the Executive Council for a vote, the Governor requested that NRRA submit three names for the Governor’s consideration so the Governor could select one. NRRA did not believe the Governor’s request for three names was supported by the statute or the law and submitted a letter to the Governor’s office in February 2020 requesting that the Governor reconsider his request. That request for reconsideration was denied.
Therefore, in the spring of 2021, the Board of Trustees of NRRA wrote a letter to the Governor reaffirming its nomination of Reagan to serve on the Waste Management Council. In addition, the Board provided NRRA Board members Mark Richardson and Steve Bullek as additional nominees in response to the Governor’s request for a total of three names for consideration. However, the NRRA Board reiterated that as the Executive Director of NRRA, Reagan was the most appropriate nominee to serve on the Waste Management Council to represent communities which recycle or recover solid waste in New Hampshire. The chair of the Waste Management Council, Rudy Bazelmans, also supported Reagan's nomination.
The Governor selected Steve Bullek from NRRA’s nominees. As reported in the Union Leader, at the April 21 Governor and Council meeting, Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington raised concerns about the Governor’s decision to bring Steve instead of Reagan to the Executive Council for a vote. Ultimately, the Executive Council voted unanimously to confirm Steve. Steve succeeds former NRRA Executive Director Mike Durfor in serving on the Council, and his term will expire September 7, 2023.
The audio from the April 21 Governor and Council meeting is available at the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s website. The discussion of NRRA’s nomination begins at 9:13 in the audio recording.