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Connecticut Bill Would Invite Competition To Run Energy Efficiency Programs

Sep 22, 2020
Chion Wolf / WNPR

A proposal buried at the end of Connecticut’s so-called “take back our grid” legislation would potentially make utilities compete for control of the energy efficiency programs they’ve operated for more than 20 years. 

And that has some lawmakers and contractors asking: Why?

Patrick Skahill

State officials say a forest fire in Windham is getting under control, but it could continue to smolder over the coming weeks if statewide drought conditions worsen. 

Wikimedia Commons

Bears are getting more and more used to raiding our trash cans and bird feeders for food. And as they get more comfortable with that behavior, they’re learning another one: coming into our houses. It’s not even fall yet, but state environmental officials said this week that Connecticut has already seen more incidents of bears entering homes in 2020 than in any previous year. 

Wikimedia Commons

State health officials say a potentially dangerous bacteria found in the water along Long Island Sound has caused an unusually high number of illnesses this summer. 

Eversource Says Storm Isaias Criticism 'Not Accurate'

Aug 27, 2020
An Eversource outage map showing the impact of Isaias. Eversource serves 149 of Connecticut’s 169  communities, UI handles 17 and three have municipal power.
CTMirror.org

This story was updated at 4:01 p.m.

Eversource Energy gave skeptical lawmakers a forceful rebuttal Thursday of the widespread complaints that the electric utility failed to prepare for Tropical Storm Isaias – then bungled the restoration of power in Connecticut’s worst blackout in nearly a decade.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

The arcane world of energy surcharges dominated a virtual conference call Monday, as hundreds of participants watched a public hearing between Eversource and state regulators. 

At issue was a controversial rate increase implemented shortly before Tropical Storm Isaias knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of Eversource customers.

Marina Shamesh / PublicDomainPictures.net

On sweltering summer days, having a house or apartment with air conditioning is important not only for comfort, but also for safety.  The need to cool down will only grow as climate change makes our world  hotter.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

What do the 2020 Doomsday Clock - you know, the calculation that tells us which technologies and conditions may annihilate us all - and the 2020 presidential election have in common?

Your vote impacts the outcome.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

The opaque world of energy policy continues to roil the surface of state government as regulators again have chastised the state’s two biggest utilities: Eversource and United Illuminating. This time, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority fined both companies, alleging an “insufficient” rollout of a program called shared solar.

Ed Dunens / Flickr

As President Trump talks about draining the swamp in Washington D.C., we turn our attention to actual swamps. Associated with death and decay, while also celebrated for their beauty and biodiversity, few landscapes evoke such contradictory sentiments as swamps.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

While Hurricane Isaias was still in the Caribbean, officials from Eversource sent a letter to state regulators predicting the storm’s impact. It was the only such letter they sent before the storm. 

But that letter came one day before the utility got a prediction from UConn about the storm’s impact on the power grid. And now, Eversource is facing scrutiny, and hundreds of thousands of customers are still without power. 

How Connecticut's Cautious First Step On Shared Solar Turned Into A False Start

Aug 4, 2020
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

More than three years after the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) selected three shared solar projects for a small pilot program, only one of those projects is operational.

The other two haven’t even started construction. 

Don McCullough / Creative Commons

The delicate balancing act of anticipating electric demand before and during the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown electricity suppliers, regulators and customers an unwelcome surprise this summer: massive jumps on electric bills. 

Marina Shamesh / PublicDomainPictures.net

On sweltering summer days, having a house or apartment with air conditioning is important not only for comfort, but also for safety.  The need to cool down will only grow as climate change makes our world  hotter.

But air conditioning itself also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. This hour, we talk about how to make sure climate-friendly cooling options are available to everyone.

Here in Connecticut, not all residents can afford to run air conditioners in the heat of summer because of sky-high electricity costs. We talk about how energy efficient homes are important not only for our state’s carbon footprint, but also for racial and socioeconomic equity.

Fadein / Wikimedia Commons

With the weather getting hotter and many indoor activities limited because of the pandemic, a trip to the water is a great way to cool off.

But not every Connecticut community has a beachfront or river in town, and many wealthy communities with waterfronts have a history of limiting water access to residents only.  Some of those restrictions have reappeared this summer in response to COVID-19.

This hour, we talk about the implications of excluding access to our state’s natural waters, especially during a pandemic.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

After years of debate and study, the future of Hartford’s aging trash-to-energy facility is finally beginning to crystalize. And Connecticut’s trash future may end up looking a lot like a step into the past: sending garbage to landfills. 

Mark Mühlhaus / attenzione

Proposals for large solar facilities routinely come under scrutiny for their potential to cause erosion and runoff, but for property owners who live nearby, concerns about the impact on their home values often loom just as large. 

Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

The EPA is proposing changes to its toxic waste cleanup plan for the Housatonic River, and is asking the public to submit comments starting Tuesday. The public comment period ends Aug. 28.

Ryan von Linden / New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Do you see bats where you live? These flying creatures play important roles in ecosystems around the world, from pest control to pollination.

But bats in Connecticut are in big trouble. This hour: bats in our state have been devastated by White-Nose Syndrome. We learn more about this deadly disease and talk about why we should be concerned that populations in Connecticut have been so hard hit.

Bats in China have made news because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We hear why scientists have looked to these flying creatures to understand the origins of a number of deadly diseases.

And we talk with bat researchers about why--amid fears of a pandemic--bats need our support, not our fear, more than ever.

A Dangerous Mix: High Ozone Levels And Obesity

Jul 9, 2020
Melanie Carol Stengel

For the 29 percent of Connecticut adults who live with obesity, summer brings a difficult form of air pollution. Ground-level ozone is the colorless, odorless gas formed when auto exhaust reacts with sunlight at temperatures above 80 degrees. Ozone can be dangerous for people who have higher body mass indexes.

Robin Lubbock / WBUR

The pandemic has forced many people in New England into a dire economic situation. But there is at least one potential silver lining: the opportunity for climate action. It’s likely the federal government will approve stimulus money again to try to boost the economy, and many environmentalists propose we intentionally direct some of those funds toward “green” recovery. 

Wood Thrush
Paul J. Fusco

Have you noticed fewer sparrows or warblers flitting about your backyard? Bird populations in North America have been declining for years, but in 2019, the data was particularly grim. Two-thirds of bird species are at risk of extinction due to climate change and urbanization, according to recent studies. What does that mean for Connecticut’s birds?

This hour, we talk to UConn professor Chris Elphick and climate scientist Brooke Bateman, from the National Audubon Society, about the factors contributing to bird decline and what we can do to protect bird habitats.

And Corina Newsome, a self-proclaimed “Hood Naturalist,” is on a mission to inspire young people of color to consider careers in wildlife sciences. We talk to Newsome about her work.

In New England, Declining Car Sales Prompt Call For Electric Bike Rebates

Jun 23, 2020
Richard Masoner / Flickr Creative Commons

As interest in cycling rises and electric vehicle sales drop off amid the pandemic, advocates are calling on Connecticut officials to extend the state’s rebate program to include electric bicycles.

Suzanne Proulx / http://www.suzanneproulx.com

Dust is a fascinating substance. Our bodies are always shedding dust from our skin, hair, and nails, leaving little bits of DNA wherever we roam. Dust floats unseen through the air around us. It's light. It's hard to see unless it lands on a contrasting surface or crosses the path of a ray of sunshine. It can travel far and wide.  

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Since the pandemic hit, carbon emissions have dropped globally. A study in “Nature Climate Change” found a 17 percent decrease in emissions by early April. In New England, data show that air pollution and energy consumption are down.

COVID-19 testing
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

Every Thursday, a researcher from Yale University picks up a cooler from the East Shore Water Pollution Abatement Facility in New Haven.

In that cooler is a week’s worth of samples from the sewer system that experts call “sludge,” or the solid waste that is left over after treating wastewater. It can contain a mixture of chemicals, metals and remnants of human waste that is flushed down the toilet. 

Pixabay

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and a day to acknowledge those who serve our country. This hour, what is it like to serve in the military during the coronavirus? How are those deployed, and their families navigating the pandemic?

JCT 600 / Flickr Creative Commons

A state report released last month sets out a pathway for getting at least 10 times as many electric vehicles on Connecticut roadways by 2025.

Ramping up electric vehicle use from roughly 12,000 to at least 125,000 in five years is ambitious by any measure. But with the country now sliding into recession, gas prices in free fall, and unemployment at record highs, the goals outlined in the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s 109-page Electric Vehicle Roadmap appear especially daunting.

Jess Gambel / Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

This hour, we take a look at bees. From the famous animals that make the honey we eat to lesser-known native “solitary bees” that nest in holes in the ground, there are thousands of species of bees, and hundreds of them have been found right here in Connecticut!

We'll talk about the critical role these pollinators play in agriculture and learn about the threats they face.

Mike Mozart / Flickr

How often do you buy new clothing?

Stores like H&M and Forever 21 sell new styles at low prices, making it easy to constantly update your wardrobe. But, this hour, we listen back to a conversation about the environmental and social costs of "fast fashion". 

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