Environment | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Environment

Irish Moss
beautifulcataya (Flickr / Creative Commons)

In honor of St. Patrick's Day next week, I thought I'd skip the green beer and talk about Irish moss.

In one of his first actions in January, President Biden announced an ambitious plan that he said would create jobs and reduce the federal government's greenhouse gas emissions.

"The federal government also owns an enormous fleet of vehicles," he said Jan. 25, "which we're going to replace with clean, electric vehicles made right here in America by American workers, creating millions of jobs — a million autoworker jobs in clean energy — and vehicles that are net-zero emissions."

Cloe Poisson / Connecticut Mirror

When the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority announced plans to close its trash-burning plant in Hartford by July 2022, the agency said it would turn off the incinerators and transform the site into a transfer station for garbage. But conversations with the state appear to have stopped those plans, which could mean that when the plant shuts down, hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage may no longer make their way into Hartford.

In this file photo, an Amtrak train arrives at Hartford Union Station on October 5, 2018.
Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public

Ridership on Metro North and the Hartford Line has plummeted as many residents suddenly stopped commuting by public transit during the pandemic.

But as the federal government eyes infrastructure as a recovery priority, will Connecticut benefit?

This hour, we talk to Senator Richard Blumenthal about what this could mean for our region’s rail system.

And some proponents in our region see this as an opportunity to bring high speed rail to Connecticut. Is that a realistic possibility for our state?

Gov. Ned Lamont holds a press briefing at the Community Health Center in New Britain to highlight CHC’s walk-up COVID-19 testing site and to encourage continued testing, June 18, 2020.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Members of the state legislature heard testimony Monday on a bill from Gov. Ned Lamont aimed at reducing transportation emissions via a multistate collaborative called the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI).

Connecticut Solar Developers Enlist Sheep To Cut Grass And Ease Tensions

Mar 8, 2021
Antalexion/Creative Commons

It wasn’t your usual Connecticut Siting Council hearing. 

The petition before the regulators last week concerned a proposed 4.99-megawatt solar project on a tobacco farm in East Windsor. But many of the councilors’ questions for developer Greenskies Clean Energy had little to do with the technicalities of solar. 

Agapostemon splendens bee sitting on a flower
Michael C. Thomas / PNAS

Insects are the most abundant group of animals on the planet. There are an estimated 10 quintillion of them on Earth.

But in recent years, scientists have found disturbing evidence that insect populations are on the decline around the world.

Pixabay.com

If you're looking for a good, native, evergreen shrub that's an alternative or compliment to your rhododendrons, don't forget the state flower, the mountain laurel or Kalmia latifolia.

Newly confirmed Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm seized on the bruising winter weather that left millions of Texans without heat and electricity last week to press for reform of the state's power systems, arguing that pivoting to a clean energy economy can ensure a dependable grid and help create jobs.

Somewhere near his fifty-sixth straight hour of chasing flames, CalFire Captain Matt Newberry and his crew were hitting a wall. They'd been dispatched to the wildfire days earlier in the middle of the night. By the next morning, the fire had already ripped across 11,000 acres of Napa County, tearing even through the night the way fires do now.

Despite everything they'd done, hundreds of homes were in smolders.

Courtesy: DEEP

Crews worked Thursday to contain a fire at a scrapyard in Waterbury, which environmental officials said impacted the Naugatuck River.

Pixabay.com

Celosia are annual flowers that are getting lots of attention. They come in two different types: Cockscomb and Pampas Plume. The cockscomb looks likes a colorful rooster's comb and, in Victorian times, were exhibited at county fairs with the biggest comb winning. The more popular Pampas Plume varieties have large, feathery plumes that bloom all summer.

Pixabay

Preserving agriculture in our state is important. Farmers have the option to preserve their land as farmland in perpetuity. But this risks pushing potential new residents out of farming communities.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Gov. Ned Lamont said last week that he supports an idea to double the 5-cent deposit and refund for certain cans and bottles. And while the so-called “bottle bill” still needs to go through the state legislature, increasing the deposit is an idea that Speaker of the House Matt Ritter recently said he also supports.

Apocalypse When?

Feb 19, 2021
Courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Site Office / Wikipedia

The Doomsday Clock is a metaphor. It moves closer to midnight depending on how close we are to human-made global catastrophe through climate change, nuclear weapons, and pandemics fueled by misinformation and failed leadership. Y’know, the typical folly of humankind.

Find out what time it is from two members of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Pixabay.com

While we're still a good month away from starting tomato seeds indoors, it's not too early to plan what varieties to grow. Growing tomato plants from seed indoors is easy if you have a light setup. They only take about 6 weeks of indoor growing to be ready to plant and you get to choose from a wide range of varieties.

Pixabay.com

If you have a sunny, south-facing window in your home or apartment, try growing indoor cactus. Indoor cactus are easy. Many grow slowly over time, don't require frequent watering and tolerate our dry, indoor air conditions in winter. Use cactus potting soil, and water throughly, but infrequently, and don't mist the plants. It's good to choose the right cactus. While all cactus are considered succulents, not all succulents are cactus. Cactus have growth points or areoles where spines, hairs and flowers grow. Here are some of the easiest cactus to grow in your sunny spot.

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Connecticut’s top environmental official said Wednesday she supports a proposal to prohibit the use of firefighting foam containing a family of toxic chemicals of the type that washed into the Farmington River in 2019.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public

Gov. Ned Lamont said last week that he doesn’t want to build a proposed natural gas power plant in Killingly and that he is hamstrung by regional market obligations. But the head of a trade group representing virtually all of the power plants in New England said the state does have some control over whether to approve the project. 

Pixabay.com

Houseplants not only do provide soothing greenery in winter, they also bring in some pests! There are a number of houseplant pests you're probably seeing right now. Here are three main ones.

Infrared photo of Venus at night, from the Japanese robotic spacecraft Akatsuki, which orbits the planet
JAXA / ISAS / DARTS / Damia Bouic

Extreme heat, crushing air pressure, and toxic clouds. Venus may not seem like a hospitable place.

But the discovery of a certain chemical, phosphine, in that planet’s atmosphere has raised new questions about the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Scientists wonder if a living organism could possibly be creating this unexpected chemical.

This hour, we sit down Martha Gilmore, a Wesleyan professor. She’s a planetary geologist and Venus expert.

What questions do you have about Venus or our solar system?

It Has Been Slow To Arrive, But High-Speed Rail Could Be Coming

Feb 2, 2021
The North Atlantic Rail project will include a tunnel under Long Island Sound through New Haven to Hartford, create a new line from Hartford to Providence, RI and connect multiple mid-sized cities.
North Atlantic Rail

In 2016, federal officials unveiled a plan for high-speed rail along the Northeast Corridor that included a 50-mile passage from Old Saybrook to the village of Kenyon, R.I.

The route went through Old Lyme and other historic small towns while bypassing New London. The plan, called NEC Future, met with heavy — almost unanimous — opposition. Hundreds turned out at meetings to oppose the plan. Sen. Richard Blumenthal seemed ready to lash himself to the tracks, calling the idea “half-baked and hare-brained” and “unworthy of any sort of taxpayer dollars.”

We, The Dog

Jan 29, 2021
Photos: Quino Al (background), Niclas Moser (dog),  ActionVance (human) via Unsplash. Illustration by Chion Wolf.


What do the ways we train our dogs say about us?

You’ll hear about how dogs are trained to search and rescue, dating back to some of our earliest wars. How they’ve been trained by authority figures for hundreds of years to bite - and hold - and sometimes kill. And how the street dogs of Moscow were trained to fly into space - even though it meant their certain doom.

Devon Hall has lived most of his nearly seven decades in Duplin County, N.C. The land is flat and green there in the southeastern part of the state, about an hour's drive from the coast. It's lovely unless you live downwind of one of the county's many industrial hog farms.

"It can get really bad," says Hall, the co-founder of the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help in Duplin County.

Leeks
Pixabay.com

One of my favorite winter vegetables are leeks. These non-bulbing, onion-family plants, have a mild flavor, are easy to grow and are beautiful in the garden. Of course, I'm not growing any leeks in late January, but I am thinking about them. They freeze really well and we're still making delicious potato-leek soups in winter.

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to refocus the Department of Energy on climate change if she's confirmed as the next secretary of energy.

In a confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Granholm echoed President Biden's emphasis on new jobs created through achieving his goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

In an effort to slow the nation's contribution to climate change, President Biden has signed an executive order to begin halting oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.

The much-anticipated move is one of several executive actions the president took on Wednesday to address the worsening climate crisis and the broader decline of the natural world, but it won't come without pushback.

The U.S. government has lifted a quarantine on an invasive insect, the emerald ash borer, that's killed many trees in Massachusetts and Connecticut. But critics of the change have been more vocal outside those states.

While COVID-19 and the state’s budget are likely to dominate the current legislative session, Speaker of the House Matt Ritter said Monday that environmental issues are also on his radar.

John Kees / Wikimedia Commons

During this pandemic, most of the day our eyes are glued to our screens as we continue to work from home. This hour, we challenge you to look outside as we talk about bird watching in our state! 

Sales of bird feeders and bird seed have skyrocketed this year. If you are one of the many people that have picked up birding, look out for cardinals and woodpeckers!

Pages