Environment

WNPR's Environmental Reporting Initiative is made possible by United Technologies Corporation.

The Air We Breathe

Jan 14, 2013
The Environmental Blog on Flickr Creative Commons

The air we breathe is usually not something we can see.  Today, in Beijing, that is not the case. Activist Zhou Rong of Greenpeace tells NPR, "In the last three days, the air pollution is beyond index. It's the worst since we have readings starting from last year." But just because this blanket of smog highlight’s China’s less-than-stellar air quality, that doesn’t mean we’ve got the problem solved here at home.

Chion Wolf

The world is a pretty noisy place...but you don’t think of the middle of the ocean being one of those places. But a project by NOAA - the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration - has found that sea life in the North Atlantic Ocean is in danger because of the human sounds of shipping, military testing and oil and gas exploration.

Jiří Nedorost (Wikimedia Commons)

After chronic wasting disease was identified in Pennsylvania and New York, Connecticut is trying to keep the disease from crossing the border.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says whole deer carcasses may not be brought out from these affected areas.

Ray Hardman talked with state wildlife biologist Andrew Labonte about the ban, and about chronic wasting disease.

At the University of Connecticut's Storrs campus, plans for a major expansion are being hindered by a lack of water. So the university is looking at a few options for a new water supply, including drawing water from the Farmington River.

Joining us to talk about the proposals is Karl Wagener, executive director of the Council on Environmental Quality.

Transportation advocates and officials across Connecticut gathered in the state capitol Monday to ask some tough questions about how the state will pay for badly-needed transit upgrades. Commuters themselves will probably have to chip in.

On the national level, we’re looking either at a “fiscal cliff” meltdown with big spending cuts or possible tax increases. Here in Connecticut, the state’s own money problems seem to be getting worse each day. So where does that leave funding for transportation?

For Bridgeport, Post-Sandy Life Still A Struggle

Dec 10, 2012

Superstorm Sandy took a heavy toll on residents of public and low-income housing in Bridgeport. Those living near the water are faced with rebuilding as well as trying to prepare for the next storm. But they simply can’t afford to do both.

Debris still litters the front yards of Seaside Village in Bridgeport. It’s the second year in a row that resident Mariela Wilches has lost her washer, drier, water heater and furnace. Not only does she have to replace them all again, she has to pay rent to live somewhere while she has no heat.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

A new study takes a look at how climate change has impacted the northeast's hardwood forests. As WNPR's Ray Hardman reports, forests are threatened by a host of factors brought on by shorter winters.

The Thanksgiving Commute

Nov 27, 2012

42 million people drove to visit family and friends during Thanksgiving weekend. WNPR’s Neena Satija joined them this year, but before leaving, she paid a visit to the state department of transportation to get the insider’s guide to holiday traffic. 

Art G. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection refutes the notion that wild populations of mountain lions live in Connecticut. But as WNPR's Ray Hardman reports, a grass roots organization aims to prove DEEP wrong.

nitram242

Connecticut’s industrial history means that we have hundreds of  abandoned sites, or ”brownfields,” whose clean-up could provide economic opportunity and take away the pressures to develop “greener” land.

Successful clean-ups like the Brass Mill Center Mall in Berger’s hometown created new jobs, revitalized a park, and spurred new development. 

But, with hundreds of these sites still contaminated and left unused - there’s a long way to go.

Lack of funds, risk of liability, and unwieldy bureaucracy makes developing brownfields difficult.

State Energy Plan A Threat For Some Businesses

Nov 19, 2012

State officials held the first of several public hearings on Connecticut’s new comprehensive energy strategy last night, and many of those who attended voiced their concerns about the plan’s focus on natural gas.

Connecticut’s new energy plan calls for as many as 300,000 homes to be heated with natural gas instead of oil. That doesn’t sit well with the 600 or so home heating oil businesses in the state. Dozens of them said so in Bridgeport yesterday, including David Cohen, who works for Standard Oil of Connecticut. He said his industry could lose thousands of jobs.

The city of Hartford and the town of Farmington are working together to turn 86 acres of forested land into office space. The city owns about 1,000 acres of wooded property in Farmington, land it has had for nearly a century since it was acquired from the old Hartford Water Company.

Jan Ellen Spiegel

We’ve been thinking a lot about the damage Sandy inflicted on homes, communities, infrastructure. But it’s also been reshaping the coastline in places like Hammonasset beach, where a lot of sand and vegetation was cleaved away, leaving the dunes looking like cliffs. At Misquamicut beach in Rhode Island - a summertime destination for many Connecticut residents - four feet of sand was reportedly pushed into one beachside business.

Courtesy USDA (Creative Commons)

We've talked on WNPR's Morning Edition about the Emerald Ash Borer, the tiny green Asian beetle that feeds exclusively on the ash tree and has decimated millions of ash trees in over a dozen states. It has been recently discovered in several towns in Connecticut.

Superstorm Sandy has thrown a wrench in the effort to contain the Emerald Ash Borer. Joining us by phone is Chris Martin, Director of Forestry for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Dru Nadler

I don’t normally think of commuting as an adventure. But it did seem a little like one yesterday morning as people got word that they could finally take the train from Stamford into Manhattan once again. Trumbull resident Brian Keane usually commutes from Westport into the city. Today, he drove to Stamford’s train station – and was ready for a little adventure when it came to parking.

“I actually have a bike in my car, because I figured if there wasn’t any parking, I’d park up on Bedford Street and bike down," he told me.

INTRO: A Nor’easter hit Connecticut today with snow, sleet, rain, and strong wind gusts. The state is still recovering from damage caused by hurricane Sandy. And as WNPR’s Neena Satija reports, some shoreline towns are concerned it will hamper their recovery efforts.

About 1200 people in the town of Greenwich still don’t have power after last week’s storm. This storm is expected to cause more problems for the region.

One Week After Sandy

Nov 5, 2012
Jan Ellen Spiegel

It’s been one week since Sandy hit, and the state and region are still clearing up. While Connecticut has not suffered anything like the damage inflicted on New Jersey or Queens, thousands are still in the dark - and it’s unclear how this might all affect tomorrow’s election.

We get an update on power outages from Connecticut Light & Power's Frank Poirot. We'll also hear from Greenwich's First Selectman Peter Tesei. That town was rocked by Sandy and many are still without power.

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy wrapped up a post Hurricane Sandy news briefing earlier this week by talking about sewage discharges into Long Island Sound. "Suffice to say in the immediate time being, no one should eat the clams or oysters," he said.

That's right. Because of water quality issues, the state put a temporary stop to oyster farming, but that's usually a short-term thing and it happens fairly regularly after a big storm.

UConn Department of Marine Sciences

Hours before Connecticut started to feel the effects of Hurricane Sandy, a network of buoys in Long Island Sound were measuring the wind speed and potential storm surge. Joining us by phone is James O'Donnell, a marine sciences and physics professor at UConn's Avery Point campus, and oversees the Long Island Sound Integrated Coastal Observing System. LISICOS operates four buoys throughout the Sound, all providing data to the NOAA forecasting system in real time, about every 15 minutes.

NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab

It's really possible that ten years from now, the main thing anybody will remember about this presidential election is that the two candidates had three debates and never mentioned climate change. Ten years from now, this will seem to everyone as astonishing as it seems to me right now.  If the last few days are any indication, climate change is going to re-map our physical world and introduce a new level of uncertainty into our lives. Climate change is, I believe, the most pressing human issue of this century and nobody talked about it.
Astonishing.

Photo by Chione Wolf

Local registrars held a conference call Wednesday to talk about election preparation in the wak of Hurricane Sandy. As WNPRs Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, the Secretary of the State says Election Day will go on with or without power.

Denise Merrill says as of mid-week, there are one-hundred polling sites in Connecticut Light and Power's coverage area without  So far, Merrill says CL&P has been very responsive, making it a priority to get town halls back on. But she hasn't heard yet from United Illuminating, a utility that powers a much smaller part of the state.

Resilient Cities

Oct 31, 2012
Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York

The phrase is: “The new normal.” The world we used to know...one where Connecticut seemed neatly tucked away from hurricanes and tornadoes, destructive storm surges and catastrophic snowstorms.

James Baldwin's book "Fire Next Time" takes its title from a gospel song about Noah, whose warnings were not heeded by others. "God gave Noah the rainbow sign. Said it won't be water, but fire next time."

Sandy's Aftermath

Oct 30, 2012
Diane Orson

For days, meterologists and state officials have been saying that “Superstorm Sandy” would be one of the worst weather events in history - and as we woke up this morning, it seems those predictions were true.

More than 625 thousand customers are without power today because of high winds that uprooted trees and knocked down power lines.

And as Governor Dannell Malloy told the state in a briefing this morning, an unknown number of shoreline residents may be stranded by flooding.

Today, we’ll go around the state and get the latest on storm recovery.

Jan Ellen Spiegel

This is going to be a bad storm, but it doesn't have to be personally catastrophic. There will be considerable loss of property, but loss of life and limb doesn't have to be terrible if people will get out of the way of the water.

Easy to talk about. The persuading can be hard.

Mary Cesar

You could say we really have two storms today. There's the one on the coast and the one the rest of us have. The one the rest of us have will be pretty severe. The one on the coast is the one whose dangers are so intense and so complex that it's kind of a head scratcher. 

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

http://cptv.vo.llnwd.net/o2/ypmwebcontent/Jeff%20Cohen/JC%20121027%20Hurricane%20Sandy.wav

High water is also threatening the lower Connecticut River, which rises and falls with the tides.  WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports on preparations there. 

Steve Leonti and a coworker are on top of a tractor. They've just moved a boat away from the docks at Chester's Chrisholm Marina.  And as they look at the river, they're hoping the water coming in from Long Island Sound doesn't get so high that the docks start to float away.

Harriet Jones

As Hurricane Sandy moves in, we check in with Governor Dannel Malloy, the mayors of Stamford and Bridgeport, meteorologists and reporters.

Governor Malloy has ordered all state highways to be shut down to non-emergency vehicles starting at 1pm. A truck ban starts at 11am.

For the latest updates on the storm, follow us on Twitter @wnpr.

We will be carrying all of Governor Malloy's press briefings on-air. The Colin McEnroe Show will also be live today at 1pm with more updates on the storm.

Flickr Creative Commons, NASA Earth Observatory

I think is going to be a pretty bad storm.

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