Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Whither the Riverkeeper?

One of the good things about being a reporter all those years ago was that people returned my phone calls in a generally timely way. One person who didn't was John Cronin, who was then the Hudson Riverkeeper.

Cronin loved publicity, and was something of a genius about getting press attention for Hudson River issues. He just happened to operate on his own schedule and according to his own priorities, and that meant if you called him on a Monday you might expect to hear back from him the following Monday. Once I learned this, it was no big deal -- I just timed my calls accordingly, which I was happy to do because he knew what reporters needed and was happy to dole out the strong opinions and relevant anecdotes on cue, or I found someone else to call when I was on deadline.

Out of the blue late last night, John emailed me. He's the head of the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, in Beacon, N.Y. (another old friend and colleague, Marc Moran, is the chief operating officer). John also has a sort-of blog -- I say 'sort-of' because he's not using the traditional blog format.

In my opinion, John is one of the most important figures in modern environmental advocacy. I was bummed when a rift occurred at Riverkeeper that prompted him to quit and Bobby Kennedy Jr. to feud with Bob Boyle and eventually oust him as head of the organization (although I remember, about four years before John quit, he told me he was exhausted and didn't intend to be Riverkeeper forever and, a couple of years later, him empasizing to me twice in an interview that Bobby worked for him, so the end was in sight for a while before it happened. But I digress...)

John cares deeply about the river and environmental issues, and always had thoughtful and insightful things to say. His blog, or whatever you want to call it, is here.

John, by the way, was the second of three Hudson Riverkeepers. Tom Whyatt, who is now an environmental attorney, was the first; after he was Riverkeeper, Tom was the executive director of Westchester Land Trust (I'm now the acting executive director); Alex Matthiessen is the third.

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Duke of Oil

Ralph Lewis (via Phil Reisman, personal communication, as they say in book footnotes) puts the oil-under-Long Island Sound issue to rest. There's none there, he says.

When Phil contacted me on Monday for his column he asked me who would know if there's even any oil under the Sound. I suggested Lewis, who I first heard talk about the Sound's geology at a conference in 1986 and who, more than a decade later, generously read and critiqued the geology chapter of my book. He wasn't around on Monday but Phil said he got back to him yesterday and said drilling in the Sound isn't worth the debate because there's no oil there.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Drill, Baby, Drill -- Not

Phil Reisman, the mad genius of the Journal News, takes on the recent suggestion that Long Island Sound would be a good place to drill for oil, in today's column, here. Tongue in cheek, obviously, Phil writes:

"Drill, baby, drill!" should be shouted across the placid waters from Pelham Bay to Bridgeport. Where to begin? Hmm. Ah, how about a few hundred feet off Premium Point?

After joking around a bit, he quotes me, of all people, making the point that Long Island Sound is owned by New York and Connecticut, and it's just not rational to think that either state would allow drilling, assuming that there's oil there in the first place, which is assuming a lot:

Tom Andersen, a former newspaper colleague of mine who authored "This Fine Piece of Water: An Environmental History of Long Island Sound," said even if there were oil out there, it would be a very long shot that drilling would ever be allowed.

"One serious point is that Long Island Sound are not federal waters," Andersen said in an e-mail. "Any drilling in the Sound would have to be approved by whichever state the proposal happens to be made in.

"Given the states' recent, admirable performance critiquing, reviewing and then rejecting the proposal for a liquefied natural gas terminal in the Sound, it's unimaginable that they would even consider drilling for oil."

Given that the candidate who proposed drilling in the Sound is the longest of long shots, criticizing the proposal is shooting fish in a barrel. But in this case it's worth taking the shots, just to make sure no one takes it seriously.

And also just so you don't think I'm a complete dunce, the email I shot off to Phil said, "... Long Island Sound waters are not federal waters." He must have made a transcription error and quoted my email as, "... Long Island Sound are federal waters."

The only drills I want in the Sound are oyster drills, and not too many of those either.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Big Land Deal Preserves Big Acreage in Guilford

The Goss family of Guilford, Connecticut, has decided to forego a development plan that could have resulted in scores of new houses and instead sell 577 acres near Long Island Sound for preservation and protect another 47 acres with a conservation easement.

The family has owned the land, on Guilford's East River, just above (I think) I-95, for decades and my guess is that their plans to develop were half-hearted, particularly since they will continue to live on the 47 acres of conservation easement land. So in that sense the deal – 624 acres for $14.4 million, or $23,000 an acre – is a great one for them and, undoubtedly, a great one for the town and the state.

Here's the Hartford Courant story, and here's how the New Haven Register reported it. In the Courant, David Funkhouser wrote:

The East River runs from Guilford Lakes south into Long Island Sound. The agreement, negotiated with help from Audubon Connecticut and the state Department of Environmental Protection, would protect nearly 2 miles of the river corridor and the second-largest high tidal marsh around the Sound. Audubon's Guilford Salt Meadows Sanctuary and protected state land are just downriver.

The area is a rich habitat for fish, shellfish, birds and other wildlife, including several species in need of protection.

A high tidal marsh, by the way, is one that is dominated by Spartina patens, the short, cow-licked salt marsh grass; it gets inundated by the tides just a couple of times a month. A high-marsh has the taller Spartina alterniflora, and is flooded twice a day.

In the Register, Rachael Scarborough King wrote:

The land — the largest privately owned tract left in Guilford — includes wetlands and about two miles of shoreline along the East River, which flows south through the Audubon Society's Salt Meadows Sanctuary into Long Island Sound. Tom Baptist, executive director of the Connecticut Audubon Society, stressed the importance of the area for the health of the Sound and the salt marsh sharp-tailed sparrow, a threatened species that has a strong population in Guilford.

"It is one of the most ecologically important coastal properties left in Connecticut," Baptist said.

Audubon's press release explains further:

The land in question is adjacent to Audubon's 200-acre Guilford Salt Meadow Sanctuary established by area landowners in the 1960's. At a press conference on Friday, Baptist stated: "Audubon Connecticut is proud to be a partner in this landmark initiative to preserve this area. Conservation of the property will protect 1.9 miles of coastal shoreline, helping to preserve water quality in the East River Marsh, which hosts a globally significant breeding population of Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows, and also provides a vital refueling stop for thousands of migratory birds during spring and fall migration season."

In addition, Baptist noted: "Protecting this stretch of river corridor will improve capacity for marsh migration in the face of sea level rise due to global warming, a serious threat to the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow and other species that rely on the Marsh."

According to Audubon, the also property marks the southern terminus of a large-scale forested landscape known to conservation biologists as the Cockaponset Triangle/Bolton Range Corridor. "Successful preservation of this site will help to maintain the ecological integrity of this large forest tract, which is easily identifiable in aerial photographs as a relatively green and, at night, dark swath of land running from the shoreline to the northern part of the state," said Baptist.

Representative Rosa DeLauro secured $3 million in federal funding for the project, and Guilford voters will have to approve the rest. By presenting it at a press event on Friday as a done deal, both sides might have helped prevent any real local opposition from arising, although you can never tell.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Soundkeeper Website Says Stratford Should Vote Yes on Sale of Long Beach to the Feds

The big question facing Stratford voters in two weeks is this:

Shall the Town of Stratford enter into an agreement in the form of the September 2, 2008 Option Agreement with the Trust for Public Land to sell Long Beach West to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for a minimum of Ten Million ($10,000,000) Dollars with a full public access easement reserved for Stratford residents in perpetuity?

Soundkeeper Terry Backer says the right answer is "yes." Here's part of the reason:

Stratford’s Long Beach, together with Bridgeport’s Pleasure Beach, comprises a unique 2-mile long barrier beach that shelters the Great Meadows Marsh Unit of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. At 80 acres combined, Long Beach and Pleasure Beach represent 20% of Connecticut’s undeveloped barrier beaches and contain a rich set of sand dunes, tidal wetlands, and sand flats. The area – widely recognized as a haven for birds and wildlife – also provides invaluable access to Long Island Sound.

There's more here, at a new Long Beach West website the Soundkeeper has created. Click around the site and you'll find an op-ed tht Terry wrote in which his answer is, "Yes, if ..." but the conditions implicit in the "if" seem to have been met.

What other organizations are supporting this?

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Look Who Loves TransCanada!

We now know that Sarah Palin is an acknowledged supporter of TransCanada, the company that constitutes half the Broadwater LNG conglomerate. That might be worth considering on Election Day, were it not for the fact that it's not even close in Connecticut and New York. (I freely acknowledge that this post is somewhat gratuitous but I wanted to see if putting the words "Sarah Palin" onto my blog did anything to my daily tracking poll.)


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Broad and Hard Look at Oysters in the Sound

boats Vince Breslin, a professor of science education and environmental studies at Southern Connecticut State's Center for Coastal and Marine Studies, has gotten a $270,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study oysters in Long Island Sound with a host of other educational institutions. Here's the nut graf from a New Haven Register story about it:

While scientists have studied various aspects of the Sound and its bivalve population piecemeal, the current study is intended to provide an all-inclusive record of currents, salinity, pollution, invasive species, sediment, temperature, micro-organism populations and other factors to be a base for future studies, Breslin said.

Breslin has drawn colleagues from SCSU, Central Connecticut State University, Western Connecticut State University, Wesleyan University and the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk.

The Sound School, in New Haven, is involved too.

Vince told me he's particularly excited because the grant will let them buy a DMA 80 direct mercury analyzer and a sediment grain-size analyzer. Here's what the Register says about that:

Breslin said he has used grant money to acquire a $40,000 instrument that can quickly measure mercury levels in oyster tissue. Older methods require time-consuming and complicated chemistry.

Breslin and colleagues also purchased a sediment grain-size analyzer. The old way of measuring grain sizes in a sample of sediment was to sift the material through a series of sieves. The process is slow. The new instrument uses a laser beam and optics to determine the percentages of different sized grains in a sample.

Ultimately, anyone researching oysters will be able to check dozens of sample points in the Sound, using a computer. Each sample site will reveal a wealth of information. The data also will be categorized and cross-linked in a number of ways to suit the different disciplines that are apt to employ the information.

(The photo is of oyster sloops on the Sound, courtesy of the Rowayton Historical Society.)


Left Holding the Bag

One of the great things about not owning a dog, I wrote last week, is that you never have to walk around carrying a bag of dog doo. The existence of a product named Flush Doggy does not change that (I should add that I did not watch the instructional video).

Thursday, October 16, 2008


the blues
I read this fishing column, by Captain Morgan, fairly often and it's never clear to me if it's a real "news" column or if he pays to publish it -- after all, every column ends with what is essentially an ad for his business.

Nevertheless, he makes an interesting point in this week's: bluefish are way abundant in Long Island Sound, they're not bad to eat and food prices are rising, so instead of always practicing catch-and-release, try catch-and-eat or catch-and-give-away-to-someone-who-would-appreciate-it. And you can keep 10 a day:

So the next time you’re out and about hooking into pound-for-pound one of the best fighting fish, before releasing it, check over your shoulder or think of a neighbor. It wouldn’t hurt to ask if anyone would like to take it home for the table. Certainly, in this—the year of the bluefish—there are plenty of fillets to go around, and then some.

"Let's Drill for Oil in the Sound"

For a truly different point of view on how Long Island Sound should be used, check out this guy, James Faulkner, a Yonkers resident who is running for the New York State Assembly as a Republican:

Faulkner ... said the state can solve its money problems by immediately leasing oil rights in Long Island Sound and offshore.

"New York can lease those lands and we can get money, right now. Right now, we can do it. We have oil companies that want it. We have offshore oil companies that want it," Faulkner said.

So great is the wealth, Faulkner insisted, "we have a chance to be just like Alaska - we can actually give money back to the people and the residents of New York."

Later asked for evidence of oil under the Sound, Faulkner said there had been talk of such resources during the debate over whether to build a nuclear power plant at Shoreham, on Long Island, nearly three decades ago. He said a plan for oil drilling in waters such as Long Island Sound would not need a lengthy environmental review because it was not harmful.

"The environmentalists are basically a communist-socialist concept, and it's become a religion. And Mike has bought into that religion," said Faulkner, who also has Independence Party backing.

This sounds of course like what someone would say if he were trying to get voters to dismiss him as loony and vote for his opponent. I have no idea what his prospects of winning are -- probably not great, since his opponent, Michael Spano, at least has a recognizable name in the district. But I take some comfort in knowing that in his wish to drill for oil in the Sound, Faulkner is alone.

Kudos to my former colleague, Len Maniace, for keeping a straight face while reporting this.

One Dead Manatee

The manatee that swam to New England and then couldn't find its way back south when the waers started to cool off died the other day on the truck ride to Florida. From the Boston Globe:

Cold stress syndrome in manatees is a series of physiological symptoms and diseases that can be triggered in cold water. Studies show that water that dips into the 60s can dampen manatees' metabolism, making them lose weight and weakening their immune system. In Sesuit Harbor last week, water temperatures hovered at 65 degrees, and Dennis's body temperature Saturday was almost 15 degrees below normal.

That's why wildlife rescue groups decided to catch Dennis, take him south to rehabilitate, and release him in the warm waters of his native habitat, Florida. But he died Sunday after a 27-hour journey by truck to a rehabilitation Center at SeaWorld in Orlando.

"If this animal had been caught sooner, the prognosis would have been better," said Bob Bonde, a biologist with the US Geological Survey in Florida who has studied manatees for 30 years. "I think in hindsight, with cold-stressed animals, it would be a good idea to get them to a facility locally before having them undergo transit."

The US Fish and Wildlife program rescues about 50 manatees a year, mostly from Florida's coastal waters, as winter approaches. Most survive, said Bonde, but they are not forced to make such a long trip.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Choking the Sound: Conditions in '08 Were Worse Than Usual

Conditions in Long Island Sound, as defined by concentrations of dissolved oxygen, were bad this summer, and they were bad for a long time. Using 3.5 milligrams of dissolved oxygen per liter as the point at which hypoxia starts (which is Connecticut's standard), the Connecticut DEP found:

...the maximum area affected by hypoxia was observed ... between 20 and 22 August and encompassed 360 square miles .... The aereal extent was the highest since 2003. ...

The duration of this year's hypoxic event concluded on our about 20 September after approximately 83 days. The duration of this year's hypoxic event is greater than the 16-year (1991-2007) average of 68 days.

Three hundred and sixty square miles is about 30 percent of the Sound.

Using 3.0 mg/L as the standard (which is what the Long Island Sound Study does), the duration was 79 days (as compared to an average of 57 days and the maximum extent was 181 square miles (the report the DEP sent out late yesterday didn't provide information on the average number of square miles affected.

Of course no one ever knows why conditions are more or less bad -- maybe the weather, maybe the rainfall, maybe the fact that New York City, Great Neck and Westchester County haven't completed their sewage treatment plant upgrades yet. Of course the fish don't really care. All they know is that they can't live there. And if it gets really low, like the 0.14 mg/L it sank to in mid-August off Great Neck, any fish that haven't fled probably will die.

The DEP puts its hypoxia maps online here, although this year's aren't up yet.


Cheap Lobster

The cost of lobster is as low as it was in 1980 (while the cost of operating a boat obviously isn't), and lobstermen in Maine are feeling it:

“People are still thinking of lobster as a luxury item, but when it’s cheaper than steak it’s not. Right now it’s cheaper than hamburger,” she said.

The price of lobster, which has been low through most of the summer, dropped by 20 percent last week. According to previous reports, concerns over the crisis on Wall Street have curbed consumer demand for “luxury items,” and the international credit crisis has effectively shut off orders from major processors in Canada.

The price for lobster has continued to decline to 1980 levels. Fishermen reportedly were getting $2.25 a pound in Stonington this weekend with prices closer to $2 a pound reported in other areas of the state.

That’s compared to the $4 a pound which, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, fishermen have received in the past several years.


Free Water

Bad for Pepsi and some of its workers but good for sustainability and common sense: people are remembering that water is free:

... consumers are increasingly choosing tap water over other beverages at restaurants and at home to help save money and the environment, according to PepsiCo and industry analysts. Research by William Pecoriello, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, found that 34 percent of consumers say they are reusing plastic bottles more often and 23 percent say they are cutting back on bottled beverages in favor of tap water or beverages in containers that create less waste.

Thirty three hundred people will lose their jobs because of it. I hate to be insensitive but to me those were unsustainable jobs.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dolphins Near Mamaroneck

A reader just submitted this comment to a post about dolphins from three years ago...

Was out fishing and saw a dolphin swimming alone yesterday (10/13/08) near Mamaroneck. We followed it at a safe distance for awhile with our boat. Moving very slowly, it even doubled back a few times, as if it were lost. Hope it made it out to the open water okay...


Humane Behavior or Subverting Natural Selection?

Is this a smart way to spend "tens of thousands of dollars"? I realize that manatees are an endangered species but isn't the fact that a manatee is swimming off Cape Cod in October and apparently has no way of figuring out how to get back to its home waters an example of natural selection? When we give individual wild animals names, we're pretty much acknowledging that we don't really think it's wild anymore.

Food, Farms and the Next President

"Dear Mr. President-Elect," is the way Michael Pollan starts his long discussion in the Sunday Times Magazine about how we should change the way we produce and eat our food. It's comprehensive and radical -- in that it gets to the root of the problem -- and indispensible (as is, by the way, the New York Times, in case we've forgotten).

Pollan says the U.S. government should stop subsidizing the growing of crops -- corn, e.g. -- that have caused high rates of obesity and diabetes. He says we should go back to farming a diversity of crops and abandon the monocultures that now dominate our agricultural lands. He points to Wendell Berry's description of the problems created when animals were moved off farms and onto feedlots:

But if taking the animals off farms made a certain kind of economic sense, it made no ecological sense whatever: their waste, formerly regarded as a precious source of fertility on the farm, became a pollutant — factory farms are now one of America’s biggest sources of pollution. As Wendell Berry has tartly observed, to take animals off farms and put them on feedlots is to take an elegant solution — animals replenishing the fertility that crops deplete — and neatly divide it into two problems: a fertility problem on the farm and a pollution problem on the feedlot. The former problem is remedied with fossil-fuel fertilizer; the latter is remedied not at all.

He suggests -- and I loved this one -- that a portion of the White House lawn be turned into a vegetable garden.

You can read it here.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Compo Beach

What a draw the beach is on a warm fall day! We went to Compo early in the afternoon and there were hundreds of people there. A sign near the entrance said "Furball," with an arrow pointing toward the beach. and from the number of dogs we encountered, I'd say the Furball is obviously some kind of canine get-together. There were dozens of dogs and dozens of people with dogs, and I was reminded that one of the advantages of not owning a dog is that you never have to walk around carrying a plastic bag of dog shit.

The tide was dropping and Kaare, our 10-year-old son, waited for it to get low enough to skim board. Four or five people were swimming. Three police boats (at least) and a Coast Guard boat were sitting together a thousand feet or so off the beach, responding (I learned today) to a 12:30 p.m. call that a swimmer was in trouble. We could see divers in the water, and for a while a helicopter hovered high above the mouth of the Saugatuck, west of Compo, but there wasn't much other activity.

I used my binoculars to scan the water from Fairfield in the east and south to the Compo jetty -- I did it three times between roughly 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., and counted 45 sailboats, 50 sailboats, and 47 sailboats. By the time we left, the sun was low, the water was almost purple, and the shadows were long.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Cost of Eating Locally

I love the idea of eating locally and sustainably.

On the other hand, we've had roast chicken for dinner twice in the last two weeks. The first was produced by a neighbor of ours who has a farm somewhere in upstate New York, Washington County I think. The chicken was organic and free range. It was delicious, far, far superior to a Perdue chicken (which we haven't eaten in years) and better than a Bell & Evans. It cost about $22.

The second was from Trader Joe's, which is based in California and has a store in Darien. I have no idea where the chicken was produced but I doubt it was anywhere near here. The chicken was organic and free range. It was delicious, far, far superior to a Perdue chicken and better than a Bell & Evans. It cost about $11.

In other words the local chicken -- presumably the more "sustainable" chicken -- carried an $11 premium over the comparable Trader Joe's chicken.

Unfortunately in this case, sustainable for the environment does equal sustainable for our budget.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Updating the Underwater Charts

A reporter for the Suffolk Times saw a big boat on Long Island Sound, going back and forth along the north shore of Long Island, asked the simplest question -- what's that boat doing? -- and came up with a terrific story about an effort to update the NOAA nautical charts that sailors rely on. Here's what Eric Shultz writes:

With specialized echo sounders, multi-beam and side-scan sonars, this boat's mission is to update Long Island Sound's nautical charts, some of which haven't been updated in more than 100 years -- like a section near the coast off Orient Point with huge underwater boulders that have never before been documented.

A torpedo-shaped surveyor -- or moving vessel profiler -- sends an immediate picture to analysts on the boat:

That colorful picture, with reds indicating average and shallow depths and blues indicating deep crevasses, includes a 275-foot hole with a 77-foot hill next to it. It includes 30-foot underwater sand dunes and large boulders closer to shore. It includes shipwrecks old and new.

"A lot of wrecks are known," Mr. Wright said. "But many are not."

It's worth a read, here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Manatees and Terrapins

Out near Cape Cod, scientists are trying to keep track of a manatee that has made its way north. Manatees are unusual but certainly not unheard of up here. Three years ago, one swam up the Hudson River and another (or maybe the same one -- I forget) was spotted in Rhode Island waters. The concern now, according to this story, is that the waters will get too cold for the Cap manatee, although why that should be an issue for a mammal -- as opposed to a cold-blodded sea turtle, for example -- isn't clear to me.

DSC00285 In Maryland, scientists are trying to keep diamond-backed terrapins from disappearing. Amazingly, there was a legal commercial harvest of terrapins in Maryland until as recently as last year. There's a good story about the situation here. Back in '03, the Times published a piece about the work Matt Draud, of LIU-C.W. Post, is doing to study Long Island Sound's terrapins, which I wrote about more briefly here. Track down Joseph Mitchell's piece, "Better than Monkey Glands," in Up in the Old Hotel, for a great account of terrapins as a culinary item.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Broadwater's Appeal

I haven't had to write about Broadwater in a while; neither has Newsday but that didn't stop them from publishing a short let's-look-at-where-we-are-in-the-appeal-process story today, the nut grafs of which are:

Houston-based Broadwater still is pursuing regulatory channels in hopes of getting the project permitted. The joint venture between Shell and TransCanada had wanted to have its proposed 1,200-foot-long, 200-foot-wide floating terminal in operation 9.2 miles north of Wading River in 2011.

The company's senior vice president in charge of the project, John Hritcko Jr., said in an interview recently that its appeal of New York's decision, to the U.S. Department of Commerce, is pending, with the federal agency expected to cut off comments by mid-December and make a decision next year.

What Broadwater is appealing, of course, is New York State's decision last spring that the proposal is inconsistent with state policies for use of the coastal area. The appeal route isn't an easy one. Here's how Suffolk County editor-reporter Denise Civiletti explained it back then, comparing it to a proposal to run a natural gas pipeline under the Hudson River:

The secretary of commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, can override the state's consistency ruling if he determines that the Broadwater plan is "consistent with the objectives of the CZMA," or if the project is "necessary in the interest of national security."

In 2003, the commerce secretary rejected the consistency appeal of Millennium Pipeline Company, whose plans, like Broadwater's, had been found inconsistent with New York's coastal management policies by the New York secretary of state. The secretary of commerce refused to override the state's determination, ruling that a project is consistent with the objectives of the CZMA only if it furthers the national interest articulated by Congress in a significant way, and if the national interest outweighs the activities' adverse coastal effects, and there is no reasonable alternative available. "A negative finding for any of the three elements will preclude [the] project from being consistent with the objectives of the CZMA," the commerce secretary wrote. In the Millennium case, he found that there was a reasonable alternative to the proposed project. He also refused to allow the project on the grounds of "national security," saying the record must show that "a specific impairment of a national security interest would result if [the] project were not permitted to go forward as proposed." General statements that the project is important to the national interest are not enough, he ruled.

If Commerce rejects the appeal, Broadwater can go to court, which is what Millennium did. Three years later the state decision was upheld.By that schedule, we can expect a court decision perhaps in 2010.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Excellent Question

Chris Zurcher excerpts a New London Day story about a new Connecticut law that requires you to put used fishing line in the trash or else face a fine, and then he asks an excellent question (here, on his environmental headlines blog):

Cigarette butts belong in the trash too. When are we going to fine people for flicking their trash out the window? Flicking your cigarette butt out the window is like walking down to Long Island Sound and emptying your ashtray into the water because, eventually, that cig you've flicked out the window, will end up there by floating into a storm drain and into a river, which flows into the Sound.

Our tolerance for garbage on the streets astonishes me. Long-time readers might remember this post, from an appaling morning spent cleaning up other people's garbage in West Haven.


Lost and Found Ring

Remember the story a few years back about the guy who was digging for clams in the Sound off Branford and found his wedding ring, which he had lost while clamming in the same spot two years earlier?

I read today about a woman named Margaret Barisone, who lost her Greenwich Academy school ring in Cold Spring Harbor in the mid 1950s and had it returned last week by a man who found it while using a metal detector across the Sound at Greenwich Point. Here's an excerpt from

Her grandfather, through a business associate, had the use for a day of a yacht that had once belonged to J.P. Morgan, and she’d been invited to come along as it sailed on Long Island Sound....

But while she was swimming in Cold Spring Harbor, her class ring from Greenwich Academy slipped off her finger and fell to the ocean floor, where she believed it would stay.

It's a great story. You can read it here.

Connecticut Approves Madison Landing Project Near Hammonasset

Catching up on news that happened when I wasn't paying attention, the Madison Landing housing development, proposed for a defunct airport next to Hammonasset State Park, got its final approval from the state last week for the use of a sewage treatment system that some people say is great while others revile.

The developers want to build 127 houses on 42 acres. Lots of people, including friends of mine in the environmental community, think it's a horror show. Others, including friends and acquaintances who worked on the project, think it's a good project because it represents a break from the kind of sprawling, single-family development that has scarred Connecticut's landscape.

My opinion is that if the property is so crucial for environmental protection, the neighbors and the environmentalists who oppose it should start a campaign to persuade the town and the state to buy it. Here's the Courant's story, from last week.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Millstone to Make Some Improvements

Connecticut Fund for the Environment and Soundkeeper have gotten the operators of the Millstone nuclear power plant, in Waterford, to move a little faster in its efforts to improve its technology so it doesn't kill as many young fish trapped in the cooling water it takes from Long Island Sound.

David Funkhouser has some details here, in the Courant (glad to see David has survived the Courant's layoffs).

There's been so little news about the Sound lately that there's hasn't been much to blog about, and I've been too busy at work to dig things up, and then on days like yesterday and today, when stories are dropped in my lap, like this Millstone one, I'm still too busy to go into it in any depth. My apologies to the six or seven people still reading this blog.


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