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.
My nephew thinks we should all skedaddle right out of Connecticut as fast as our Prii can take us – last one to cross the border, turn off the lights. Party over. He emails me articles to bolster his case, and there is no question that our state is facing serious challenges. The cost of living and taxes are high and rising here, some businesses are grumpy and threatening to move to Florida and beyond, and our economy is growing slower than most other states. While still ranked near the top for our median household income, our personal revenue actually has declined since 2000; and Connecticut recently has become a leader for economic inequality among its citizens, a dubious honor that used to go to places like Mississippi.
During its special session June 29, the Connecticut legislature passed a number of items as budget implementers. Two of these are of particular importance to our environment and the health of our citizens – a strong law banning plastic microbeads used in cosmetics and personal care products, and enhanced notification prior to a pesticide application on school grounds, along with restrictions on the use of pesticides on municipal playgrounds.
In a session marked with consternation over budget challenges, legislators should do far less hand-wringing when supporting the bill to stop the bloody trade of poached ivory and rhino horn in Connecticut. Indeed, the costs of taking no action will reach far beyond Connecticut. Elephants will continue to be slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands for their ivory, which is coveted for use in jewelry, figurines, and other objects falsely sold as “antiques.”
The Connecticut legislature’s reluctance to fully launch a program to develop a system of shared renewable energy is not only costing the state jobs and federal energy subsidies. It is also causing the state’s consumers to pay more than they have to for electric power. We are missing the clean energy revolution.