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.
Diagram courtesy of EPA.
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 →
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since 2010, the review reveals both attendance and overall revenue at state parks in Connecticut have dipped and are trending downward. Continue reading →
UPDATE: Due to today’s weather, Governor Malloy did not go to Washington, DC and is staying in Hartford. However, he will still be participating in this news conference via conference call.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will join Democratic governors in Washington, D.C. today to announce “a bold strategy” that would require nine Midwestern and Southern states to clean up their air before it drifts eastward.
According to the New York Times, the governors will request that the federal Environmental Protection Agency to force the states to take strict air-pollution control measures.
Gov. Malloy, who talked with the Times, was described as “leading the effort by East Coast governors to crack down on out-of-state pollution.”
New London has joined other cities, including San Francisco, CA, Providence, RI, Santa Monica, CA, Ithaca, NY, Madison, WI, and Seattle, WA. by voting to dump fossil fuels from its pension fund investments.
“I think today’s action demonstrates the City of New London is on the forefront of environmentally conscious thinking,” Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said in a statement released by a public relations firm working for the city.“There is no better way to demonstrate New London’s commitment to being an environmentally conscious leader than in choosing where the City invests its money.”
Capitol Watch’s Jon Lender reports in The Courant this morning that the state Supreme Court has overturned a ruling that would have allowed Connecticut’s bottle companies to get back $6 million in unclaimed deposits the state claimed from them under a 2009 law.
In a unanimous verdict that you can read here, the justices said Tuesday that the state can hang onto unclaimed deposits from the period of Dec. 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009, because bottlers did not have a “vested property interest” in those deposits.
A lawyer for the bottlers called the decision “surprising,” because the companies had collected and managed unclaimed deposit money to fund the state’s recycling program for nearly 30 years before the unclaimed deposit funds were shifted to the state.
After blocking her nomination for more than four months, the U.S. Senate voted Thursday to confirm a former Connecticut official as head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
In a 59-40 vote that was part of a high-profile compromise in the chamber, senators cleared the final hurdle for Gina McCarthy, an assistant EPA administrator who President Barack Obama tapped for the job in March.
McCarthy was the head of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 to 2009. She had also held environmental posts in Massachusetts’ state government.
McCarthy’s nomination had been held up for months as Republican senators demanded documents and answers to hundreds of questions about the transparency of the science the EPA uses when it makes environmental rules. But this week, the GOP relented, saying they had secured key promises from McCarthy to disclose more of the agencies scientific data and to retrain its workers to communicate in ways that can be tracked with public records requests.
Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said on the Senate floor Thursday that McCarthy is “an environmental protector for all seasons, not a partisan by any stretch of the imagination.”
He added that he thought she will be able to carefully weigh the desires of environmental groups and businesses that might be able to make more money if regulations weren’t as stringent.
“I certainly know no one who strikes the balance and seeks both goals…with such zeal and passion,” he said. “She epitomizes the kind of bipartisan spirit that we should seek to grow and
attract in our federal government.”
With her approval as EPA Administrator in jeopardy, supporters of Gina McCarthy, Connecticut’s former commissioner of the old Department of Environmental Protection, have started running TV ads in New Hampshire, Ohio and Maine. Senators from those states could be critical to her approval when the U.S. Senate takes up her nomination this month. Here’s one of the ads by the American Sustainable Business Council Action Fund.