Environment | Connecticut Public Radio


Jamie Lantzy (Wikimedia Commons)

Since the beginning of the recession, more families are in need of the services provided by food banks. Now this year, add in the effects of the drought that has hit much of the country. A recent report from the United States Department of Agriculture found that nearly 12 percent of Connecticut residents are what is known as "food insecure."

Joining us to talk about the state of food banks in Connecticut is Gloria McAdam. She's the President and CEO of Foodshare, which serves the Greater Hartford region. 

kestrana (Flickr Creative Commons)

Last month’s shutdown of the Millstone Nuclear Power Station’s Unit 2 was the first time in the U.S. a nuclear plant had to shutdown because the cooling water it uses was too warm.  

But as WNPR’s Jan Ellen Spiegel reports, the situation is bigger than just Millstone and the Sound. It involves climate change, the vast amounts of water practically every power plant in the country uses, and whether the nation’s electric grid is at risk.

Plugging In: Electric Vehicles in Connecticut

Sep 24, 2012
evgonetwork, creative commons

Yesterday was “National Plug In Day,” a celebration of the environmental and economic benefits of electric cars.

At CCSU, 100 people gathered with only 15 electric vehicles. You might think that by now, there should be hundreds - or thousands - of electric cars in Connecticut.  But there are only 98 registered in the whole state. 

Pink Sherbet Photography, Flickr Creative Commons

Recycling Routines: A Refresher

Sep 17, 2012
Heather Brandon

It wasn’t too long ago that everything you threw out went in the trash, then to a landfill. Now, due to changes in public attitude and government incentives, recycling has become a part of our daily lives.

Back in 1980, for instance, only about 10 percent of trash got recycled. That number is up to 34 percent. Much better, but still “lackluster” according to proponents of “sustainable” business. Some European countries are up around 50 percent. So, what can we do to recycle more? What’s the incentive? 

Mike Bender, US Fish and Wildlife Service (Wikimedia Commons)

Encounters between humans and bears are on the rise in Connecticut, and some of them could be dangerous. That’s prompting environmental officials to consider allowing a regular bear-hunting season for the first time ever in the state. WNPR’s Neena Satija reports.

Turning to Native Bees as Pollinators Amid Honeybee Die-Off

Sep 12, 2012
Roo72 (Wikimedia Commons)

Since 2006, much of the West has experienced unusually sharp declines in honeybee numbers, so much so that the unprecedented decline was given a name: Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon where worker bees seem to simply vanish. While scientists ponder the reasons for the collapse of honeybees, fruit farmers face extra pressure to pollinate their crops. Now, a handful of researchers in the Northeast are proposing that fruit growers in Maine, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut might look to the lesser-known members of the bee family to take up the slack. 

Hooking-Up To Power

Sep 10, 2012
Flickr Creative Commons, couscouschocolat

I did not participate in "hookup culture" when I attended Yale University. There were many reasons for that. World War I. The Russian Revolution.

Also, nobody wanted to have sex with me.

The Renaissance of the Connecticut Farm

Sep 7, 2012

After years of decline, Connecticut farms are on the rise, and they’re smaller, more diverse, and more self-sufficient than ever before.

It seemed for a long while that Connecticut farms were going out with the 20th century as more and more farms were being plowed under to make way for new suburban housing and commercial development.

Steve Zind (VPR)

It’s been one year since Hurricane Irene tore up the Eastern Seaboard, finally hitting Connecticut as a Tropical Storm. While the damage and power outages in this state were substantial, the impact was nothing like that in Vermont, where heavy rains flooded creeks and streams, blocking roads for days and washing away buildings across the state. As Steve Zind of Vermont Public Radio reports, the recovery effort is ongoing. But it’s not just about rebuilding…it’s also planning for future storms. 

Warming Ocean Waters

Sep 6, 2012
NOAA (Wikimedia Commons)

Ice in the Arctic Ocean is at a record-setting low this summer - covering less of the sea, and melting at a more rapid rate than ever. Although climate change skeptics rail about Al Gore’s stranded polar bears, the melting of Arctic ice is - scientifically - really real...

Over 30 years, the area it covers has dropped by about half. It’s also not as thick as it used to be, which means it melts more rapidly. 

Taking a Ride Down the Connecticut River

Sep 5, 2012
Bongaboo, Creative Commons

It flows from the upper reaches of New Hampshire through the heart of New England...and winds its way through our state - twisting, turning, sometimes flooding, and eventually emptying into Long Island Sound.

The 410-mile-long Connecticut River was recently designated America’s first National Blueway.

Connecticut's Space Case

Aug 30, 2012
Royalty-free image collection

Two stories this summer have had us thinking about the stars... and a bit about our own backyard.  

The death of Neil Armstrong - the first man to walk on the moon - has made many nostalgic for a time when the American space program captured the world’s imagination.  The local connection?  

The iconic Apollo spacesuit was designed by Connecticut’s own Hamilton Standard.  That company - now Hamilton Sunstrand - just announced job cuts at its aerospace division.

Will the Future of Rail Travel Include Metro-North?

Aug 27, 2012
WalkingGeek (Flickr Creative Commons)

There’s talk of Hartford to New York in half an hour. New York to Boston in 90 minutes. Tunnels under the Long Island Sound zipping trains across the region. It’s exciting stuff. But here in Connecticut, many are saying, ‘wait a minute. First thing’s first.’

“We don’t have money today to run the railroad that we operate – or try to operate – today," says Jim Cameron.

Neena Satija

A mattress recycling factory in Bridgeport is bringing jobs to those who need them – while disposing mattresses in an environmentally-friendly way. WNPR’s Neena Satija reports on Park City Green.

44-year-old Angel Morales is surrounded by piles and piles of old mattresses. His job is to deconstruct them using his hands and a utility blade.

Kayley Sisco

DANBURY – The CPBN Media Lab traveled to Candlewood Lake to spend a day on the water with Mark Chanski, a DEEP officer and tour guide for this segment of Outdoor Enthusiast.  After a quick lesson on lifejackets and water safety, the team headed out to explore Connecticut’s largest lake.

Tlindenbaum (Flickr Creative Commons)

The makeup of butterfly populations in the Northeast has changed dramatically in the last two decades, according to a new study. That's because global warming is driving butterflies to cooler climates farther north.


Mosquitoes are one of those things that we learn to deal with. We put the bug spray on, light the citronella candle, and try to keep the itching to a minimum. But for some people, those skeeters are deadly.

Yesterday, the Dallas, Texas region saw its 11th death of the year from the West Nile Virus. More than 200 people have been infected by the disease. And here in Connecticut, officials announced the first case of West Nile last week. The Agricultural Experiment Station has found mosquitoes carrying the virus in dozens of towns across Connecticut.

Courtesy State Vegetation Management Task Force

A report on how to manage the trees alongside Connecticut's roads is expected to be released this week.

Scott Lawler (Flickr Creative Commons)

Hikers visiting the Appalachian Trail this summer may not realize how much coordination goes into maintaining the 2,180-mile trail that winds through 14 states.

A memorandum of understanding was signed in Connecticut earlier this summer to outline just how coordination on the Appalachian Trail will occur over the next ten years. It was signed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Department of Community and Economic Development, the State Police, and the Department of Transportation.

kestrana (Flickr Creative Commons)

Connecticut's Millstone nuclear power plant shut down one of two units on Sunday, not because of any problems at the plant, but because the sea water used to cool the plant is too warm. Unit 2 may not take in water warmer than 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and the water has been averaging closer to 77.

"All summer long, Long Island Sound temperatures have been higher than historical," Ken Holt, Dominion spokesperson, said today. "This morning, the 24-hour average temperature for service water at Unit 2 is 75.7 degrees."

Powering Connecticut

Aug 13, 2012
Dave L. (Wikimedia Commons)

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan, Germany is undertaking a massive effort to eliminate its eight nuclear power plants. It will rely on more wind and solar power, and less on coal.

The Germans may spend as much as $250 billion over the next several years just to get this plan started. Japan, meanwhile, despite a worried public, is still considering how much nuclear power they want to have part of their future energy mix.

Courtesy of Flickr CC by USDA

Connecticut has a new, destructive resident that most likely is here to stay. As WNPRs Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, the arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer has caused state officials to impose a quarantine in one part of Connecticut.

Chion Wolf

There are more than 800 miles of Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails in Connecticut. Today we're doing our show from one of them. 

Pridatko Oleksandr (Wikimedia Commons)

Tropical Storm Irene, record snowfalls in 2011, and a freak snowstorm last October: even in a part of the country that has unpredictable weather, Connecticut has had its share of extreme weather in the last few years.

YVSREDDY (Wikimedia Commons)

Stamford is ramping up efforts to test private wells for potentially cancer-causing pesticides that may be in the water. But getting the word out is a slow process, and so far, surrounding towns haven’t shown much concern.

Nick Woodward (Maine Public Broadcasting)

The Federal Government is touting the potential for tidal energy production, using underwater turbines. Thirty of these turbines are planned for New York City's East River by 2015, and a New York-based company is exploring an area of Eastern Long Island Sound known as "The Race" for a possible turbine site.

As Maine Public Broadcasting's Jay Field reports, that state is taking the lead in tidalenergy generation, lowering a 180-kilowatt turbine into the waters of Cobscook Bay. It will make Maine the first state to feed energy to the commercial electric grid.


jimflix! (Flickr Creative Commons)

The name Anguilla Brook is actually taken from the genus name for the American eel, Anguilla rostrata. But eels have been scare in the stream for decades, in part to an old dam that has blocked the eel and alewife from migrating upstream. Now, thanks to a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, that dam will be removed, and replaced with a new dam a half mile upstream that will include a fish ladder. 

Decumanus (Wikimedia Commons)

Environmental advocates and Connecticut lobstermen are calling on state and federal lawmakers to do more to restore the health of Long Island Sound. As WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, the state's commercial lobster industry has been hit hard by a severely depleted lobster harvest.