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.
Groups of Hartford area people focused on improving the lives of the less fortunate have been advocating for collaboration. As they have in a Hartford housing project, they want to show what can happen when advocacy leads to actual action.
As state legislators, my colleagues and I are charged with two basic tasks – forming sound public policy, and finding a way to pay for such policies in a responsible manner. Our continuing fiscal crisis, however, has once again caused good public policy to suffer at the expense of funding our government’s unsustainable spending habits.
Connecticut legislators have apparently decided not to hold a hearing on HB 6616, a measure that would phase out the use of coal to generate power and provide a smooth transition away from power plant jobs. The coal-fired Bridgeport Harbor Generating Station has been polluting the air for years, We demand evironmental justice and the right to be be heard on this bill.
In Newington, my lifelong home, there is increasing concern about Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposal establishing a statewide transit development authority and its intentions to oversee his ambitious transportation plan. This proposal is not a friend of Newington — or any other municipality with open space.