Thursday, April 06, 2006

Where are the Environment Reporters? Here's a List of Things I'd Like to Know About

Have the reporters who cover the environment in the region all gone on spring break? Or have the cutbacks at their newspapers been so great that they’re busy covering other things like fires and parades and visits to Connecticut by the president? Whatever it is, environment reporting has been severely lacking lately, putting me in a bind. It’s hard to blog without news and it’s hard to get news if reporters aren’t out there scaring up stories. Yesterday I had to resort to a seven-year-old anecdote from the Hudson River.

But maybe it’s just a lack of ideas on the part of reporters that’s holding them back. If so, here’s a list of things to look into. Or if you’re not a reporter and you happen to know about some of these, drop me a line. You can click through the archives here for background information.

1.The Connecticut Legislature has been severely underfunding its Clean Water Fund, jeopardizing the Long Island Sound cleanup. But some legislators want to increase the amount of money in the fund this year. What is the status of that attempt?

2. It’s almost a year since 12 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into a tributary of the Sound in New Haven. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said at the time there would be an investigation. Then he shut up. Was there an investigation and, if so, what was the result?

3. A few years ago New York City tried to convince state regulators to allow the city to use a nitrogen removal method at its sewage treatment plants that apparently had beeen used successfully in the Netherlands, a method that goes by the acronym of SHARON. The city said the method was cheaper and more efficient. The state said no and required the city to agree to a new nitrogen removal schedule. But it also gave permission for the city to use the SHARON method on a trial basis at its Wards Island plant, on the far western end of the Sound. What exactly is SHARON and does it really have the potential to do a better and cheaper job cleaning up the Sound?

4. It’s spring, and anadromous fish are returning to spawn. There are so few alewives and blueback herring that it’s illegal to catch them anywhere between New York and New Hampshire. But what about their cousin, the American shad? What condition is the Connecticut River’s shad fishery in?

5. Has anyone who requested Broadwater CEII information from FERC received it? And if so, did they get what they needed or was the material too heavily-redacted to be useful?

6. Birds are a good indicator of environmental health. Fifteen years ago the Sound had colonial bird rookeries on Huckleberry Island off New Rochelle, Captain’s Island off Greenwich (I forget if it was Great or Little Captain’s), Chimon Island off Norwalk, Falkner’s Island off Guilford, and elsewhere. Are they still thriving? Have other islands been colonized? Has the number and kinds of species changed in any way?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since Roger Witherspoon left the Journal News, environmental reporting (at least on this side of the Hudson) has been severly lacking.

10:45 AM  

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