Category Archives: Environment

Audubon Society: State Needs Better Planning to Save Bird Habitats

by Categorized: Environment, Wildlife Date:

Connecticut’s old conservation style of buying up property to save it from development then just letting the landscape return to forest isn’t working for a lot of this state’s declining bird species, according to the Audubon Society.

The number of different types of birds in this state has been declining for decades, Connecticut bird experts are warning in a newly released report, and they are calling for important changes in the way this state manages its open spaces.

Manged grassland at Pratt Valley Preserve in Bridgewater. Connecticut Audubon Society photo.

Managed grassland at Pratt Valley Preserve in Bridgewater. Connecticut Audubon Society photo.

“Managing areas for wildlife is a lot more complicated than just letting them go,” said Alexander R. Brash, president of the Connecticut Audubon Society. “Because our landscape is already human dominated and no longer naturally balanced, we must determine what we want a landscape to look like and then actively manage the process to achieve that goal.”

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Walmart Joins Home Depot and Lowe’s In Non-Denials On Bee-Toxic Plants

by Categorized: Agriculture, Environment Tagged: , , , , , Date:

It’s now official: None of the Big Three in the home improvement retail game are directly denying a new report’s accusations that they’ve been selling “bee-friendly” flowers and plants that actually contain bee-harmful pesticides.

Walmart has issued a statement that sounds very similar to the non-denial responses from Home Depot and Lowe’s earlier this week to a study by the Pesticide Research Institute. The group tested samples of plants sold at major garden retailers in 18 cities across the U.S. and Canada and found more than half had traces of a potentially bee-toxic insecticide called “neonicotinoid.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency photo.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency photo.

“Walmart shares the concern of others regarding pollinator health, including the health of bees,” Walmart spokeswoman Susan Saronitman wrote in an emailed response to the report. “We are actively engaging with many stakeholders, including scientists, suppliers farmers and customers to explore additional steps we can take to enhance the health of bees and other pollinators in the food and garden supply chaines.”

What Friends of the Earth, Boston’s Toxic Action Center and the other groups associated with the new study want is for major retailers and all the other garden centers to halt all sales of plants with bee-toxic pesticides.

None of the responses from Walmart, Home Depot or Lowe’s mentioned even the possibility of that sort of action. The closest any of them came to the central issue was the Home Depot statement, which stated it planned to have its suppliers label any plants with neonicotinoid by the last quarter of 2014.

Allowing Running Bamboo to Run Wild Could Cost You

by Categorized: Agriculture, Environment Tagged: Date:

Running bamboo has acquired an evil reputation in Connecticut. And now the state is trying to increase restrictions on this plant and create potentially big financial risks for people who let it run wild.

Legislation signed into law this week by Gov. Dannel Malloy doesn’t go as far as some bamboo critics hoped – they wanted to totally prohibit the sale or planting of running bamboo in Connecticut.

Image courtesy of state House Democrats.

Image courtesy of state House Democrats.

But the new law, which took effect immediately, does expand on anti-bamboo legislation passed in 2013. That initial bill prohibited planting of running bamboo within 100-feet of a neighbor’s property, but included some significant loopholes.

The first was that it applied only to plantings that occurred after the law took effect in October 2013. The second was that it allowed plantings closer to a property line if the bamboo was “properly contained” by a barrier system.

Many Connecticut residents suffering from damage caused by running bamboo planted much earlier insisted  that the 2013 law didn’t go far enough.

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Global Warming Report: Connecticut On Target To Cut Greenhouse Gases

by Categorized: Environment, Gov. Dannel Malloy Tagged: , , Date:

Connecticut is making major strides to achieve its anti-pollution goals by 2020, Gov. Dannel Malloy said Friday, citing a new report on the state’s efforts to cut the pollution from power plants, industry and transportation.

Malloy said the state report demonstrates that Connecticut has become “a national leader in efforts to reduce the amount of carbon emissions being put into the atmosphere.”

He also said this state is doing it at the same time that it’s providing “cheaper, cleaner, more reliable energy” through its efforts to promote the use of natural gas and renewable energy like solar power.

Gov. Dannel Malloy. Hartford Courant photo.

Gov. Dannel Malloy. Hartford Courant photo.

Malloy, a Democrat seeking reelection this year to a second term in office, took an indirect shot at Republican-dominated states where some officials still question whether human action is primarily responsible for climate change.

“We know greenhouse gases are in fact affecting our environment,” said Malloy. “At least we believe that in this part of the country, where there’s very little debate about it.”

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Malloy Vetoes Glass Eels Bill

by Categorized: Environment Tagged: , , , Date:

Legislation that would have made glass eel fishing legal in Connecticut has been vetoed by Gov. Dannel Malloy over concerns about how that might effect the future of the species.

Glass eels, considered an expensive and popular delicacy in places like Japan, are the juvenile version of the American eel and can sell for as much as $800 a pound. Some Connecticut fishermen hoped to cash in on the global market frenzy by creating a glass eel season here.

But Malloy said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now conducting a study of the status of the eel to determine if it should be listed as a “threatened species” under federal law and provided more protections.

The governor said environmentalists told him they have “serious concerns” about the glass eel legislation and Malloy said it would be “premature” to take such action before the federal agency completes its study.

Only two states on the East Coast, Maine and South Carolina, currently have fishing seasons for glass eels.

The bill approved by the General Assembly would have removed Connecticut’s current $250 fine for taking glass eels in state waters, and would have required state environmental officials to create regulations by 2016 for a new glass eel fishing season.







Malloy Administration Defends Environmental Enforcement Record

by Categorized: Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Environment, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Uncategorized Tagged: , , Date:

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s top environmental official is defending the administration’s efforts to enforce Connecticut’s anti-pollution laws, saying a drop in state inspections last year doesn’t tell the whole story.

Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Rob Klee, photo courtesy of DEEP.

Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Rob Klee, photo courtesy of DEEP.

Rob Klee, commissioner of energy and environmental protection, said Thursday that the plunge in the number of inspections performed by his agency is actually a product of the Malloy administration’s decision to use its resources in “a smarter way.”

Klee was responding to some of the conclusions contained in the state’s latest environmental report card. The state Council on Environmental Quality’s annual report cited figures showing that both the number of DEEP inspections and compliance by state-regulated companies were down in 2013.

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State Air Quality Best In Decades, But Report Warns Global Warming Already Hurting Environment

by Categorized: Environment Tagged: , , Date:

Connecticut’s 2013 environmental report card shows air quality in this state last year was the best in decades, but that state efforts to enforce environmental laws and preserve open land were declining.

Perhaps the most ominous note in the Council on Environmental Quality’s annual report released Wednesday deals with increasing signs that global warming is already beginning to hurt the state’s efforts to protect and improve the environment.

Photo courtesy of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Photo courtesy of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Karl Wagener, the council’s executive director, said there was “less air pollution last year than in any year” since the CEQ began issuing annual reports more than four decades ago.

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Yale Study Finds “Global Warming” Means More To Americans Than “Climate Change”

by Categorized: Environment Tagged: , Date:

A national study released Tuesday found that the term “global warming” means a lot more to most Americans than “climate change.”

It’s sort of ironic, given the fact that one of the research teams taking part in the study is named the Yale Project on Climate Change Communications, and the other is the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communications.

global warming

According to the report, which included a national opinion survey, all sorts of different groups respond much more strongly to “global warming” than they do to “climate change.”

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Coastal Cleanup Removed Tons of Trash From Connecticut’s Shoreline

by Categorized: Environment, Uncategorized Tagged: , , Date:

More than four tons of trash were cleaned off Connecticut beaches during the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup Day, according to the Save the Sound organization.

Photo courtesy of Save the Sound.

Photo courtesy of Save the Sound.

The 1,554 volunteers who took part in last fall’s cleanup worked on 44 different beaches along 68.9 miles of this state’s Long Island Sound shoreline. They ended the day filling 453 bags with trash of every description.

According to the Ocean Conservancy, the group that coordinates the international cleanup day, the top trash items collected by all volunteers were: cigarette butts (more than 2 million of them); food wrappers (1.7 million); plastic beverage bottles (940,000); bottle caps (848,000); straws and stirrers (555,000).

Leah Lopez Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs at Save the Sound, said whole purpose of the annual fall cleanup is “to ensure beaches and marshes everywhere are healthy for people and wildlife alike.”

The 2013 Connecticut portion of the cleanup effort included support from a flock of environmental and civic groups, scouting troops, schools, churches and other organizations.

“One need look no further than the Pacific Garbage Patch, which is nearly twice the size of the United States, to understand that marine debris is a massive problem; locally our beaches and marshes are choked with plastics, cigarette butts, tires, and more—all of which threaten wildlife and can hurt beachgoers” said Schmalz.

The world-wide cleanup effort in 2013 involved an estimated 650,000 volunteers in 92 countries.




House Approves Bill Creating a Comprehensive Water Plan

by Categorized: Environment Date:

In 1967, after a particularly severe drought, the legislature determined that the state needed a comprehensive water plan.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would commit the state to finally establishing such a policy.

“Once this plan is in place, Connecticut will have a sustainable water resource and will be able to advertise ourselves as a state with a water plan, making [the state] attractive to economic development and residents,” said Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford.
“I hope that we will not miss this opportunity.  We’ve waited 47 years for a water plan; this is our chance to finally get one.”

House Bill 5424 requires the Water Planning Council to submit a plan to the General Assembly by Jan. 1, 2018.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy applauded the House for passing the measure. “As responsible leaders, we must be smart stewards and plan ahead to preserve water for future generations while we have the luxury of its abundance,” he said. “By taking on the task of developing a statewide strategic water plan now, we can reduce climate change uncertainty, plan effectively for future demand and maintain water as an asset. If we want sustainable development, than we must make sure it is in harmony with the available water resources.”

While Connecticut has been spared the extreme droughts that plague many Western states, it has experienced sporadic water shortages. Ambitious growth plans at the University of Connecticut, for instance, have resulted in a sharp increase in demand. It was UConn’s need for more water that prompted Rep. John Hampton, D-Simsbury, to organize a “water summit” last fall.

“The importance of getting this done in the short term will put us in good stead should we ever have the kind of crises that these other states have faced,” said Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport. A clearly defined water plan will “put Connecticut on the path to determining our own future,” Steinberg added.

Eric W. Thornburg, president and CEO of Connecticut Water, which serves 56 Connecticut towns, commended the bill’s passage.

The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration. Malloy said he looks forward to signing the measure.