Budget crises require tough, but necessary choices. They do not require self-inflicted wounds. Raiding $22 million from clean energy and efficiency programs funded by proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as the proposed budget from the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee does, is a self-inflicted wound.
As they tackle the budget deficit, Connecticut legislators have been understandably focusing on cuts in spending. But we are missing an opportunity for major cost reductions under our noses: buying power needed for state facilities, and others they serve, using solar power, which would come at lower cost than conventional electricity.
In the 1970’s flame-retardants were found to be carcinogenic and highly absorptive so they were voluntarily removed from children’s pajamas. Since then these chemicals have found their way back into our children’s products although the toxicity and danger to the health of children has remained the same. Flame retardant exposure is linked with cancers and immune suppression, learning disorders, lower IQ and hyperactivity, hormone disruption, reduced fertility and birth defects.
In Hamden, west of Farm Brook Reservoir, is a meadow. Once the meadow belonged to dairy farmer Harold Hansen but the State of Connecticut, having engineered the reservoir as a watershed more than 40 years ago, came to oversee and maintain the property. Butting the northern section of West Rock Ridge, encompassed by hiking and walking trails, the meadow has been a refuge for many over the years. In one respect, the meadow is anathema to its place: a hilly pasture in a densely populated suburb of a densely populated city. Traverse the meadow in any season, though, and you feel as though you traverse as well our agrarian past. Haying grass still grows, stonewalls rib the woodland. There is silent, open space. And, at the heart of the meadow, high on the second of three slopes that fall gently east, as if placed just so by the hand of God, a bitternut.
The National Audubon Society, among others, has reported that some common bird populations are down by more than 50 to 80 percent from their numbers in the 1960s. It is hard to appreciate things we don’t see. Warblers can cope with a harsh winter, but one wonders if they will survive us.
The fall meeting of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s Energy and Environment Council features a keynote address by Yale professor and former DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty, sharing “his insider’s perspective on where climate policy is headed.” The event will also include a tour of Wallingford-based Proton Onsite, a global leader in gas generation and renewable energy storage. So why does the promotional description of the event in CBIA’s recent newsletter call for a reconsideration of Connecticut’s existing commitments to climate protection?
Water quality begins at the point of discharge, not in relocation of bottom materials from one location to another. It is a very important distinction to make when talking about one of Connecticut’s most precious assets, Long Island Sound. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently released a draft Dredged Material Management Plan. Digging up the material at the bottom of our waterways is critical to ensure public access and commerce.
For the past several years, opponents of genetically engineered products have misinformed and misled the general public with scare tactics and, sadly, an anti-science message. Connecticut has been a hot spot for this rhetoric, and unfortunately in 2013 our lawmakers chose to listen to fear rather than facts and passed unnecessary legislation regarding GMO labeling.
Answers to two questions are key to approving a new gas pipeline in Connecticut:
1) Is there a problem?
2) Do proposed solutions to the problem create collateral damage?
In the case of the Connecticut expansion of the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, the answers are NO — supplies of natural gas this winter will NOT run out and YES — contamination of our water supply is feared.
The passage of the Safe and Affordable Food Act by the U.S. House of Representatives is yet another example of how the vast amounts of money spent by special interest groups undermines our democracy. This Act, also known as HB 1599, or the DARK Act (Denying Americans the Right to Know) would not only overturn Connecticut’s pioneering law that requires labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients (and similar laws in Maine and Vermont), it would permanently prevent people from knowing if foods contain genetically modified organisms and allow foods containing GMOs to be labeled as “natural.”
The movement to label foods containing genetically modified organisms is based on bad information and flies in the face of scientific reason. If state legislatures continue to pass bills that support the anti-science agenda, we will end up with a patchwork of unnecessary regulations that stand to negatively impact the food industry and ultimately hit consumers where it hurts most—in their wallets.