Environmental Reporting Initiative

Make It MIRA
7:37 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Bill Proposes Radical Overhaul of CRRA

A new bill written by Governor Dannel Malloy's office proposes overhauling CRRA and changing its name.
Credit Heather Brandon / WNPR

A new bill is proposing a major overhaul to the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, which handles waste for more than 50 towns.

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Investing in Energy
7:09 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Group of Foundations Unite in Divesting From Fossil Fuels

A group of foundations has decided to divest from companies doing business in fossil fuels.
Credit _J_D_R_ / Creative Commons

A recent move by 17 foundations to stop investing in fossil fuels has added to a growing debate about "green portfolios."

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Earthquakes
5:32 pm
Sun February 9, 2014

Oil, Gas Drilling Seems To Make The Earth Slip And Go Boom

Infrastructure used for oil and gas may be making more earthquakes. In Texas, there 10 times the number of earthquakes now than a few years ago.
Mark Rogers AP

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 5:21 pm

There's been a surge in earthquakes in the U.S. over the last few years. In Texas, there are 10 times the number of earthquakes now than just a few years ago.

Scientists say it's likely linked to the boom in oil and gas activity, meaning that people who never felt the ground shake are starting to.

Here's how Pat Jones of Snyder, Texas, describes the earthquake that struck her town in 2010: "It just sounded like some car hit the back of our house. We got up and checked around and we didn't see anything or hear anything else."

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Ice Bustin'
7:15 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Why the Connecticut River Needs an Ice Breaker During the Cold Season

USCGC Bollard drives down the Connecticut River in Middletown. The 65-foot ship's main mission during the winter is breaking up ice.
Patrick Skahill / WNPR

If you've looked out on the Connecticut River this winter, you may have seen something a bit unexpected: a Coast Guard cutter. It's called the USCG Bollard, and it's been on the river for weeks, dutifully breaking up ice.

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Utilities
6:01 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Officials Delay Decision On Fate of UI's Ambitious Tree-Cutting Plan

A downed power line following an ice storm in 2011.
Chion Wolf / WNPR

According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, PURA will now delay their decision on United Illuminating's ambitious tree-cutting plan past Wednesday, January 29, due to a public hearing request from UI to discuss "technical issues."

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Open Season On Open Land?
2:12 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

State Parks and Forests Aren't as Protected as You Think

Credit Flickr Creative Commons / ChrisHConnelly

If you think Connecticut's roughly 270,000 acres of forests and parks are protected forever, you're wrong. That's according to a new report from Connecticut's Council on Environmental Quality claiming state conservation lands aren't always preserved forever.

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Antarctica
8:28 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Yale Student Treks to the South Pole at Record Pace

Yale student Parker Liautaud and explorer Doug Stoup in Antarctica.
The Willis Group

Parker Liautaud, 19, is a sophomore at Yale University studying geology and geophysics. He’s also a polar adventurer who just returned from an expedition, where he and another explorer broke the world record for the fastest unsupported trek from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole.

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Leadership Changes
1:11 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Top Esty Aide Named As New Commissioner of DEEP

Robert Klee will take over as the new head of Connecticut's DEEP.
Credit Yale World Fellows

Robert Klee, a lawyer who served as chief of staff to Dan Esty, will take over as the new commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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Game of Cones
2:15 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Brace Yourselves, Potholes Are Coming

Potholes in New York City. This winter's multiple frost/thaw cycles are expected to contribute to a high volume of potholes in the spring.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

As cold weather returns to Connecticut, a slew of potholes are expected to appear around the state. According to Jim Mahoney from the Connecticut Transportation Institute, "This is about as perfect as a setup as you can get for potholes, and unfortunately, every road is susceptible to them."

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Wildlife
4:11 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

To Save Threatened Owl, Another Species Is Shot

A northern spotted owl in a Redwood forest.
Michael Nichols Getty Images/National Geographic Creative

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:19 pm

In desperation to save the rare northern spotted owl, biologists are doing something that goes against their core — shooting another owl that's rapidly taking over spotted owl territory across the northwest.

"If we don't do it, what we're essentially doing, in my view, is dooming the spotted owl to extinction," says Lowell Diller, senior biologist for Green Diamond, a timber company.

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Leadership Changes
12:04 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Dan Esty To Leave DEEP, Return To Yale

Dan Esty has led Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection since 2011.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Dan Esty will step down as commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection effective Feb. 3. He told Governor Malloy he plans to return to a teaching position at Yale. 

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:04 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Why Compost?

Susannah Castle runs Blue Earth Compost.
Chion Wolf WNPR

You may think that composting all your kitchen waste sounds like a good idea, but you probably don't realize how many things really can be composted, what services are available if you can't get yourself organized to do it, and if you do have a compost pile, which animals visit it at night, and for what purpose?

This hour, a heap of information about compost!

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NIMBYISM, Considered
7:00 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Wind Turbines Have Little Impact on Property Values, Study Finds

A new study observing 122,000 home sales in Massachusetts says nearby wind turbines have little impact on residential property values.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / lamoix

A new UConn report looked at more than 120,000 Massachusetts home sales and found wind turbines have little impact on prices. Carol Atkinson-Palombo is co-author of the paper, which tracked the data spanning a 14-year period.

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Invasive Insects
9:44 am
Sat January 11, 2014

The Upside Of The Bitter Cold: It Kills Bugs That Kill Trees

Tom Tiddens, supervisor of plant health care at the Chicago Botanic Garden, displays bark with beetle larvae.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:19 pm

While many of us may prefer to never again see temperatures drop below zero like they did earlier this week across the country, the deep freeze is putting warm smiles on the faces of many entomologists.

That's because it may have been cold enough in some areas to freeze and kill some damaging invasive species of insects, including the tree-killing emerald ash borer.

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Trains of History
3:24 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Is It Time to Bring Passenger Service Back to a Historic Connecticut Railroad?

A train on the Housatonic Railroad in Canaan, Connecticut in 2004. Legislators are exploring the possibility of investing in the historic tracks and reopening them to passenger service.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

A group in Connecticut would like to see passenger service restored to the Housatonic Railroad and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty seems willing to explore the idea. The 90-mile-long Housatonic Railroad was chartered prior to the dawn of the Civil War and runs from Massachusetts to Danbury. Currently, it serves only freight trains. Its last passenger train ran in 1971.

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Wildlife
11:02 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Second Beaked Whale Found Beached in Eastern Long Island

True's beaked whales are known mainly from stranded specimens, accoridng to the NOAA Fisheries Service.
NOAA

Biologists are investigating the death of a second True's beaked whale that washed ashore on Monday in eastern Long Island, found on a beach in the Hamptons.

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Food Waste
7:00 am
Tue January 7, 2014

How a Compost Pile in Danbury is About to Get Richer

Jeff Demers stands on a hill overlooking New England Compost in Danbury, one of three licensed food residual composting facilities in the state. A new law aims to increase that number by targeting large-scale food waste generators.
Patrick Skahill WNPR

A new law went into effect January 1 requiring certain businesses to start recycling their food waste. According to the state, the legislation is aimed at gradually bringing more composting facilities to Connecticut.

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DEEP
4:17 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Environmental Violations Cost Three New Haven Companies $750K

Attorney General George Jepsen says three New Haven companies and their operator, Bruno F. Suraci, Jr., must pay nearly $750,000 in civil violations as the result of environmental violations.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / jwellsrobinsonpc

At the center of the investigation was Bruno Suraci, Jr., owner of three metal-finishing businesses near the Quinnipiac River in New Haven. The court ruling, totaling nearly $750,000 in civil penalties, comes for hazardous waste and air pollution violations.

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Wildlife
7:47 am
Fri January 3, 2014

'You're Invisible, But I'll Eat You Anyway.' Secrets Of Snow-Diving Foxes

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 1:57 pm

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Ice Crystals
2:30 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

What's in a Snowflake?

Credit Catie Talarski / WNPR

The winter storm hitting Connecticut is bringing "light, fluffy snow" to many parts of the state. Have you wondered what exactly makes the snow fluffy? 

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Boots Were Made For It
7:00 am
Tue December 31, 2013

New Haven Ranks as Country's Eighth "Most Walkable City"

About 12 percent of New Haven commuters report walking to their jobs, according to U.S. census data.
Yale University Creative Commons

First, let's check the numbers. About 12 percent of New Haven commuters report walking to their jobs, which ranks the Elm City eighth nationally -- that's right alongside Washington D.C. and Boston.

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Rare Bird
12:08 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

A Partridge in a Pear Tree? Unlikely, in Connecticut

Alex Brash, president of Connecticut Audubon Society, said, "Our forests are aging and our landscape [is] less diverse, which means that many of Connecticut’s most beautiful birds, such as Ruffed Grouse, are disappearing."
Credit Ybou photos / Creative Commons

The Connecticut Audubon Society says that if state residents plan to give their true love a partridge in a pear tree on the first day of Christmas this year, they're likely to be disappointed.

Partridges have become so rare in Connecticut over the last two decades that it might be easier to find two French hens, or three Turtle Doves, than a partridge -- known more commonly here as the Ruffed Grouse.

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Rick In Space
6:53 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Space Station Repairs Are Made Following Issues With Space Suit

Waterbury native Rick Mastracchio holds the degraded pump module while the International Space Station's robotic arm guides the module to a grapple fixture.
Credit NASA TV

Rick Mastracchio will continue repairs to a damaged cooling system on the International Space Station on Tuesday morning.

The Waterbury native was originally scheduled to conduct his second space walk Monday, but the mission was pushed back following a minor issue with the astronaut's space suit.

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Magic Carpet Ride
6:36 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Connecticut Weighs Feasibility of Carpet Recycling Law

Credit Flickr Creative Commons, stevendepolo

Earlier this year, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to pass a law requiring manufacturers to recycle unwanted mattresses generated in the state. Now, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is reviewing similar rules for things like carpet and batteries. 

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Photography
6:34 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Wadsworth Atheneum Highlights "An Artificial Wilderness"

Edward Burtynsky's "Oxford Tire Pile #1," taken in Westley, Calif. in 1999, is one of the centerpieces of "An Artificial Wilderness," which runs through Feb. 23 at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.
Edward Burtynsky / Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

It might seem odd for a museum boasting one of the nation's largest collections of the Hudson River School, a 19th-century art movement celebrating the beauty of America's outdoors, to document parking lots and discarded rubber tires. 

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Insects
1:49 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

From 'Death Jars' To Wasps: A Quest To Stamp Out The Stink Bug

The invasive brown marmorated stink bug has become an expensive nuisance for U.S. farmers. It has spread to 40 states and eats about 100 different crops.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:26 am

The brown marmorated stink bug doesn't just smell bad. It's also been causing trouble for homeowners and farmers from New Hampshire to California for the past three years.

No predators are eating the invasive species fast enough to keep it under control, but researchers think they may have found a solution to the stink-bug menace.

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O Rly?
5:41 am
Tue December 17, 2013

In Search of the Majestic Snowy Owl on the Connecticut Coast

A Snowy Owl spotted at Stratford Point.
Anthony Zemba Connecticut Audubon Society

Birders in Connecticut are enjoying a rare spectacle this holiday season: the Snowy Owl. I teamed up with Milan Bull from the Connecticut Audubon Society and went searching for this arctic bird, which is capturing the imagination of bird lovers across the state.

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Pollutants
11:42 am
Fri December 13, 2013

How Plastic In The Ocean Is Contaminating Your Seafood

"A lot of people are eating seafood all the time, and fish are eating plastic all the time, so I think that's a problem," says a marine toxicologist.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 10:38 am

We've long known that the fish we eat are exposed to toxic chemicals in the rivers, bays and oceans they inhabit. The substance that's gotten the most attention — because it has shown up at disturbingly high levels in some fish — is mercury.

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Ice Missiles
12:04 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Clean Snow Off Your Car, Or Face Fines

Credit Flickr Creative Commons, imrambi

Motorists who fail to remove ice or snow from their vehicles will face possible fines beginning Dec. 31.

The so-called "ice-missile" legislation requires drivers to remove any "threatening" ice or snow from the hood, trunk, and roof of their car or face a $75 fine. Fines will be even higher if the ice or snow causes property damage. Non-commercial motorists could face a $200 to $1000 penalty for each offense. Commercial violators could be fined between $500 and $1200.

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Blame It On The Wind
5:00 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Connecticut Asks Upwind States to Clean Up Their Air

An ozone transport map illustrates how out-of-state pollution moves into Connecticut. Red is westerly transported air, which moves hundreds of miles. Yellow is a southerly, nocturnal, low-level jet. Green is short-range pollution, which moves at ground level and city-to-city in the mid-Atlantic and northeast.
Credit CT DEEP

Blame it on the wind patterns, which are responsible for moving most of America's air from west to east. Often, that air carries pollution from out-of-state coal plants into Connecticut, which contributes to the formation of ozone. Now, Governor Dannel Malloy and environmental leaders from around the northeast have filed a formal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency saying they've had enough. 

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