Category Archives: Environment

Scotts CEO Warns Malloy About Reviving GMO Seed Ban Bill

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

A bill to ban genetically modified grass seed and sod from Connecticut’s lawns was uprooted and dumped on the legislative mulch pile by the House last week, but that wasn’t good enough for the head of Scotts Miracle-Gro.

EPA photo.

EPA photo.

The chairman of that company wrote Gov. Dannel Malloy Thursday warning that any revival of the ban or any moratorium on the new grass seed could lead Scotts to reconsider its investments in Connecticut.

Scotts is creating a grass seed using genetically modified organism (GMO) technology. This new form of lawn grass could survive being sprayed with Monsanto’s popular herbicide, Roundup. That would allow homeowners to use Roundup to kill every weed in their yard without hurting the grass.

Environmentalists are worried that could result in a huge boost in pesticide and herbicide use, which could create more pollution, and that the new type of grass could spread and endangering Connecticut’s organic farms. They fear Scotts’ new GMO grass seed could be available soon and wanted the ban in place now, but House lawmakers rejected that plan on a bipartisan vote.

Jim Hagedorn is chairman and chief executive officer of Scotts, and he wrote to Gov. Dannel Malloy Thursday because he is “dismayed that so many uninformed comments have been made about our technology.” Continue reading

Anti-Fracking Groups Give Malloy Petition, Stage Demonstration

by Categorized: Environment Tagged: Date:

A coalition of environmental groups and activists Wednesday offered Gov. Dannel Malloy a petition carrying thousands of signatures of people who want to ban any waste from natural gas “fracking” operations from coming into Connecticut for storage or disposal.

More than 50 people representing five different organizations also staged a brief demonstration outside the State Capitol to urge lawmakers to pass the proposed fracking waste prohibition.

Jennifer Siskind of Food & Water Watch holds an anti-fracking waste banner at Wednesday's State Capitol demonstration.

Jennifer Siskind of Food & Water Watch holds an anti-fracking waste banner at Wednesday’s State Capitol demonstration.

Malloy’s administration has called for authority to regulate toxic wastes from fracking (technically called “hydraulic fracturing”). The process involves pumping millions of gallons of water and chemicals deep into shale deposits to force out natural gas and oil. The wastes that result can contain toxic chemicals and may even be radioactive.

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GMO Battles Set for NY, Massachusetts, Vermont and Congress

by Categorized: Agriculture, Environment, GMOs, Uncategorized Date:

Connecticut made national headlines last year by becoming the first state in the nation to pass legislation requiring labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Anti-GMO rally at Connecticut State Capitol

Anti-GMO rally at Connecticut State Capitol

There were some big, big conditions attached to Connecticut’s bill that have prevented those labeling requirements from actually making an impact for consumers. But developments in other states could change the situation soon.

In order for Connecticut’s law to take effect, at least four other states with a combined population of at least 20 million would have to pass similar laws. And at least one of those state would have to border Connecticut.

Right now, the odds of those conditions being met seem to be getting better.

New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maryland all have GMO labeling legislation in the works. (Maine passed its own GMO law last year.) Polls consistently show massive public support for such labeling requirements, but federal officials and Big Food and  Big Agriculture are opposed. Continue reading

Deer Counting Isn\’t An Exact Science

by Categorized: Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Environment, Uncategorized Tagged: , , , , Date:

How deer are counted in Connecticut is a big deal for a lot of folks: hunters; people concerned about Lyme Disease; naturalists worried about deer damage to our landscape; and the wildlife experts actually doing the counting.

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The federal Centers for Disease Control, for example, is paying for annual helicopter surveys of a few square miles in Redding as part of a broader effort to reduce the number of Lyme Disease ticks in that town. Those surveys make it clear how tough it is to actually count deer in our forest lands, and are part of Connecticut’s overall deer-counting disputes.

Scientists say their January 2014 Redding deer count turned up a figure of about 34 white-tails per square mile. Hunters in that area insist those numbers are wildly inflated, and that the actual population for Redding is more like 11-13 deer per square mile.

Hunters, of course, like having more deer because they like shooting deer. Public health officials and many Connecticut residents don’t like having lots of deer because of Lyme Disease.

(How many deer are being killed by Connecticut hunters, an increase in bow hunting, and new legislation to expand Sunday archery hunting are issues discussed in a Hartford Courant report you can read here.)

Black-legged ticks are the primary carriers of Lyme Disease, and deer are critical to the tick’s reproductive cycle. The more deer there are, scientists say, the more ticks are around and the more Lyme Disease cases result. Although some hunters think deer get far too much blame, the CDC program is aimed in part at dramatic reductions in the Redding deer population. Continue reading

Meyer Makes it Official: He Won\’t Seek Reelection

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Environment Date:

State Sen. Ed Meyer, a five-term Democrat from Guilford, announced Monday he won\’t seek reelection.

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Meyer turns 80 next year and said in a statement that he looks forward to retirement after about five decades of public service.

Before his election to the Connecticut legislature in 2004, Meyer served in the New York state assembly. \”It has been my particular pleasure to have served in the legislature of two states and to have actively participated in some of the significant initiatives of those states–the creation in the 1970\’s of the State University system in New York and the closing of New York\’s mental health \’snake pits,\’ and during my 5 terms in Connecticut, the abolition of the unworkable death penalty, the enactment of historic gun restraints after Newtown, the emergence of same gender rights and a host of environment initiatives from restrictions on pesticides and other toxic chemicals to our confrontation of climate change and water contamination,\’\’ Meyer said in a statement.

Meyer\’s official announcement confirms what Kevin Rennie and others have been hearing for months. According to Rennie, Meyer\’s departure could open up an opportunity for Ted Kennedy Jr.

Meyer\’s full statement is after the jump.

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Fracking Fears Lead To Calls For Ban on Disposal

by Categorized: Environment, General Assembly, New York, Uncategorized Date:

Environmental activists say the fear is not that Connecticut will be pin-cushioned with natural gas “fracking” wells, but that we’ll become a dumping ground for fracking waste from Pennsylvania and New York.

That was the theme at a news conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford Tuesday where lawmakers and environmentalists called for a state ban on toxic waste water from fracking wells in other states.

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Connecticut doesn’t have the right sort of underground shale deposits that can produce natural gas from fracking, a system of forcing huge amounts of water and chemicals into the earth to push out the gas. Pennsylvania and New York do have the right type of shale and the question is, what’s going to happen to all the waste from fracking in those states.

“This is an issue of absolute importance,” insisted state Rep. Matthew Lesser, D-Middletown. He said Connecticut needs to ban disposal of fracking chemicals and water before it drowns in “an avalanche of waste products.” Continue reading

Watching The Snow, Thinking About Monarchs

by Categorized: Agriculture, Climate change, Environment, GMOs Date:

 

If this cascade of snow has you dreaming about summertime and gardens and flowers, maybe you should also be giving some thought to the ugly reports coming out of a small valley in Mexico, and the plight of the Monarchs.

\"monarchEPA\"The Monarch butterfly\’s winter retreat in Mexico\’s Sierra Madres once covered something like 45 acres. Billions of the brilliantly colored butterflies would make there way there from all over Canada and the U.S. (including Connecticut), sometimes taking as many as four generations to complete the migration.

Now, biologists report that this winter less than 1.7 acres are covered with Monarchs, and their numbers have dwindled to about 35 million.

Theories about why this massive decline is occurring range from climate change to the dramatic increase in the use of certain GMO-related pesticides that have nearly wiped out milkweed, a key Monarch feeding resource, from great stretches of the Midwest.

If it is the loss of milkweed that\’s driving down North America\’s Monarch populations, it\’s an unintended consequence of the push to find better, more profitable agricultural methods.

Monsanto genetically engineered corn and soybeans to be able to withstand the herbicide Roundup. Farmers in the Midwest have vastly expanded acreage devoted to those GMO crops, and one consequence is that Roundup has virtually eradicated milkweed that once grew in those farmlands. One biologist estimated that 98 percent of all milkweed has disappeared from Iowa farmlands

Monsanto scientists insist there is evidence indicating the Monarchs\’ decline is linked to other causes, such as shifts in climate caused by global warming.

What to do about the Monarchs may actually become a topic at a summit meeting next week in Mexico between President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephan Harper, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

 

Conservation Group Gives Connecticut Delegation Top Marks

by Categorized: Chris Murphy, Congress, Environment, Richard Blumenthal, Uncategorized Date:
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As far as the League of Conservation Voters is concerned, Connecticut\’s congressional delegation is almost perfect.

In the group\’s annual rankings of conservation-related voting in Congress, Connecticut was right at the top in both the U.S. Senate and House.

This state\’s U.S. Senators, Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, got a combined 100 percent League rating. Connecticut\’s five Democratic U.S. House members racked up a 96 percent positive conservation voting record, according to the League\’s system.

In case you were wondering, Wyoming\’s Senate and House members came in at the very bottom in the group\’s estimation, scoring zero in both chambers.

The League\’s rating system is based on how members of congress voted on key conservation issues, such as federal funding to repair Hurricane Sandy damage to the McKinney Wildlife Refuge along the Connecticut shoreline. (Not exactly a tough vote for any lawmaker from this state.) Other issues on the League\’s watch list included the Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline, military biofuels, the Farm Bill, and toxic air pollution.

Paper or … Plastic?

by Categorized: Environment, General Assembly Date:

Gregory B. Hladky reports today that environmentalists are preparing another push to ban plastic bags:

Los Angeles just did it, joining close to 100 other cities and counties in that state alone. Every county in Hawaii has done it. So have communities in at least 13 other states and the District of Columbia. Westport did it way back in 2009, and it seems to be working just fine.

Environmentalists are now wondering if it isn\’t time for Connecticut to finally follow suit and take some kind of action to deal with our plastic plague of shopping bags.

Based on experiences around the nation, a ban would dramatically cut back on the estimated 400 million bags used in this state each year. It would also reduce the tons of long-lasting plastic that\’s thrown away and ends up clogging dumps, sewers, waterways and marine life in Long Island Sound.

Critics claim bans on plastic bags are anti-consumer, or anti-business, or unnecessary. But in the one town in Connecticut that restricts plastic bags, businesses and customers have grown accustomed to life without plastic.

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Funding for State Parks is Inadequate, Committee Finds

by Categorized: Environment Date:

A recent review of state park funding by the Programs Review and Investigations Committee (PRI) has revealed \”inadequate\” funding to sustain short and long term operational needs of many state parks in Connecticut.

The 80+ page report includes information on resource trends and expenditures, revenue and staffing. Key findings suggest that the Parks Division total budget expenditure has declined annually since 2010. In fact, the Division\’s total budget for 2013 is comparable to that of the budget for FY 2006.

The review also finds that staffing levels are critically low, threatening the overall operations of individual parks, Additionally, the PRI reports that fees in Connecticut state parks are higher than other states in the region. Under current circumstances, the committee calls operational planning within the parks \”crisis driven;\” the system lacks structured attendance to performance based measurement in light of declining resources and dwindling staff.

\"ParkSince 2010, the review reveals both attendance and overall revenue at state parks in Connecticut have dipped and are trending downward. Continue reading