Name: Mark Sanborn
Previous position: Assistant commissioner for New Hampshire's Department of Environmental Services
New position: Government relations, permitting and business development for North and South Construction Services in Newington, New Hampshire
Mark Sanborn resigned last week from his job at DES, and his last day will be Oct. 5. Sanborn had recently been reappointed to that position for a term that would have run through January 2027. Gov. Chris Sununu is expected to nominate a replacement.
Sanborn is leaving his role in DES a few months after the state legislative session ended. DES recently saw controversy around its involvement in SB 61, a bill that would have enacted a two-year moratorium on siting new landfills in New Hampshire and called for a study to determine how far future sites should be set back from water. Those rules would have affected Casella Waste Systems, which has plans to build a landfill in Dalton, New Hampshire, that face pushback from some nearby residents.
That bill failed to pass, but some lawmakers and activists have said Casella, as well as Sanborn and DES’s waste management division director, Mike Wimsatt, had too much sway over the bill’s language. Both Casella and DES have said it’s common for stakeholders to weigh in on active legislation, and they believe their involvement wasn’t an overreach.
Sanborn said his decision to resign has “no connection” to SB 61. “Our department was asked to represent the perspective of the governor and the governor's office and the position of the executive branch, which we did. The legislature made a decision, which we of course respect,” he said.
The state is still moving forward with plans to update a series of landfill rules that will sunset in July 2024. Chapter 800, which outlines such rules, must undergo a review regardless of whether SB 61 or other, competing landfill-related bills pass.
Sanborn was confirmed as DES assistant commissioner in August 2021. He previously served as the governor’s energy adviser, and has also served as a senior adviser for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In his new role at North and South Construction Services, some of his work will be around PFAS remediation for construction companies, including handling permitting issues and helping determine what to do when PFAS is found in soil or construction materials. Sanborn said his familiarity with PFAS issues in the state, including with ongoing PFAS remediation work at the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility, made him a fit for the role.
New Hampshire passed drinking water regulations in 2019 that made it the first state to require wastewater plants and landfills to test for and treat certain per-and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, according to New Hampshire Public Radio. Handling PFAS-containing material is an issue for landfills and water treatment works in the state, Sanborn said, “and that's only going to increase when PFAS is regulated and listed as a hazardous substance by the EPA,” he said.