5 Climate Bills Pass

After several years of virtually no progress on climate-related legislation in the Connecticut General Assembly, we finally have some good news. As of May 2, five bills have passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives and have been signed into law by Governor Lamont.

  • SB 176 doubles the caps on commercial and industrial solar, allowing more rapid deployment of renewable energy. Of all the bills under consideration, SB 176 was the primary focus of the Jonah Center and Ecoin’s Citizen Advocacy program. It supports the goal of decarbonized electricity sector by 2040, a goal included in the state’s Comprehensive Energy Plan and the Integrated Resource Plan. Thank you and congratulations to everyone who sent emails to your legislators. It clearly made a positive difference. SB 176 passed with broad bipartisan support.
  • SB 10 establishes in state law the commitment to achieve a fully decarbonized electrical grid by 2040. This  bill also passed with broad bipartisan support.
  • SB 4 strengthens the Clear Air Act to add incentives and deploy electric vehicles such as school buses and other government vehicles; tightens emission standards for medium and heavy duty trucks that are a major source of air pollution; and adds charging stations to encourage EV deployment. SB 4 was passed by Democrats, along a strict party line vote.
  • HB 5327 authorizes measures for electric distribution companies to deploy electricity storage to support more use of renewables and to increase resiliency of the electrical grid.
  • SB 5200 authorizes a study and pilot project on the generation and use of hydrogen in the state’s energy system.

Here’s how our local State Senators and Representatives voted on these bills.

 

If you’d like to become a Citizen Advocate, let us know by using the Contact tab. You will receive occasional action alerts pertaining to local and state-wide environmental opportunities and challenges.

Paddling Season Approaches

The Jonah Center is looking for paddlers to help save the Floating Meadows (Mattabessset River) in Middletown from invasive water chestnut. This is a fun, satisfying activity — combining paddling, teamwork, enjoying beautiful scenery and wildlife. We are looking for 20-30 volunteer paddlers on each of the 4 Saturday mornings, 9-11 a.m. We launch from and return to the canoe and kayak launch near the Middletown transfer station. (Navigate to 185 Johnson Street.) It’s an activity everyone seems to enjoy! Continue reading

Our Black Bear Neighbors

Bears are a wonderful part of the earth’s community, and they can coexist with humans very nicely. But it is critical that we do not become a source of food for bears. Birdfeeders and unsecured trash containers are tempting to bears and can lead to bears’ presence becoming problematic. Having said that, enjoy this video captured by Tom Humphreys in Portland.

Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail Connector Route Update

The Jonah Center’s most far-reaching project — to connect the 2 longest multi-use trails in Connecticut — was awarded a $350,000 route study grant by CT DOT this past February. We are well on our way to making the connector route a reality for regional bicyclists.

Of the 23 miles between the western terminus of the Air Line Trail in Portland and the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire, approximately 8.5 miles already exists in the form of shorter trail segments along the way. Another 8.6 miles has been planned or is in the process of being planned. That leaves about 5.5 miles in need of a routing study.  The project has was recognized in state law in 2019 as the Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail  (ALT-FCT) Connector. 

The Jonah Center collaborated with the Lower CT River Valley Council of Governments (the RiverCOG) in applying for the grant of $350,000 to study the whole connector route, with particular focus on the 5.5 miles between Smith Street in Middletown and North Broad Street in Meriden, and Newfield Street in Middletown. The grant was awarded by CT DOT in February 2022.

The ALT-FCT Connector, when completed, will use off-road trails for about 16 miles, and about 7 miles of on-road bike routes — provided that some sections of the Air Line Trail railroad bed and some parcels that include the old Middletown-Meriden trolley line can be utilized. Completion of the ALT-FCT Connector would result in completion of a 111-mile Central Connecticut  Loop Trail (shown below). Click here for a Google Map of the Loop Trail that allows you to zoom in for more detail.

 

Who’s Running In Portland?

Since 1980, Bob Sequenzia has been running and walking on the Air Line Trail, even when it was an overgrown dirt path prior to its reconstruction for public use in 2016. He runs year-round, but when there is deep snow on the ground he runs a loop on local roads — Job’s Pond, Middle Haddam, Penfield Hill, and Pepperidge. He enjoys the feeling of accomplishment from finishing a run. He starts out with his wife Barbara, also an avid exerciser, before they diverge onto their different routes. Since the pandemic began, Bob has ramped up his routine to 6 days a week, covering 30-35 miles per week on average. Continue reading

Talking Trash with the City’s Recycling Coordinator

As most of you are aware, the state is bracing for a trash disposal crisis.  In CT we are losing the capacity to handle our waste in-state, which will increase the impact on the environment and increase costs for everyone.

It is Important we take action at all levels – government, businesses and individuals. Here are some updates. Continue reading

An Invitation From Middletown’s Complete Streets & Bikeways Committee

by Laura Baum

We are a city committee and we meet on the second Monday of each month at 7pm (via Webex). We would love for any citizen to attend a meeting and get to know our friendly, collaborative team. Every new person brings new insights.

In the broadest sense, we’re working to make Middletown a safer and more enjoyable place to bike and walk. Some people choose to bike and walk, for others it’s a necessity. We work with city staff and raise issues and draw attention to big multi-year projects like the Long Lane bike path all the way down to small, but important sidewalk gaps. We maintain a map of priority walking and biking routes and we see ourselves as watchdogs for people who walk and bike in Middletown. Where do we need sidewalks, how could the city make it easier to bike where you want to go? Continue reading

Help Us Make A Better World

Who’s Walking In Portland?

 “Every day, weather permitting, I walk up and down High Street on the sidewalk across from my house,” says Ben Foley. “When the weather is nice, I like to go to the Portland Reservoir or the Air Line Trail.”

As many Portland residents know, when Ben was 14 years old, he survived a stroke caused by a rare arterio-venous malformation (a type of aneurism) that resulted in partial paralysis and weakness on his left side. Recovery from that was slow and difficult, but with hard work in physical therapy, he regained the ability to walk a significant distance with a cane by the time he finished high school. By the time he finished college, he walked everywhere on campus. Continue reading

Excellent Riverbend Exhibit at Main Street Market

by a Middletown resident

Middletown city representatives have been working hard to provide information about the RIVERBEND development planned for Middletown. The project is being developed very carefully, with information, opportunities to provide input, and time for discussion along the way. The successful completion of the project could help make the best of Middletown and its thriving Main St.

The  Riverbend exhibit is adjacent to Perk on Main, in the Main Street Market mall at 386 Main Street and provides up-to-date information on the development, all in one place.

The exhibit has everything needed to begin to understand the current state of planning for Riverbend project.  It provides information in various formats, from maps and photos to descriptions & illustrations of proposed stages of development. And it’s meant to evoke the kind of thoughtful  input  hoped for from Middletown residents.

The exhibit is a clear indication that people involved in planning the  project really want & value your input: Without your input they’re not going to be able to consider your thinking on this very important development brewing in our up-and-coming community.

Middletown values your opinion and input. I urge you to  look at this excellent exhibit and leave your feedback on the yellow pad.  Other information is available at  Return to the Riverbend, on the City of Middletown’s website.  Also see Dan Haar’s article in the February 26, 2021 issue of Connecticut Magazine, “What’s next for CT’s struggling cities? Middletown’s Main Street may show the path forward.” 

 

 

Change Solar Regulations To Achieve Climate Goals

A key goal of Connecticut’s climate change mitigation plan is to “decarbonize the electricity sector” by 2040. This will require, among other measures, rapid expansion of solar power, which now accounts for 2.5% of the electricity produced in our state. The challenge is daunting. So far, we are not on track to meet it.

But a key opportunity lies in the vast square footage of commercial rooftops and parking lots. So let’s do it, right?

Unfortunately, state regulations currently place a 50 MW cap on new commercial solar projects and the Shared Clean Energy Facilities (SCEF) program is capped at 25 MW. SCEF allows low- and moderate-income ratepayers to own part of a solar system and enjoy the economic benefits. These two caps, together, permit only 78,000 megawatt hours of solar electricity to be added each year. That is less than .2% (two-tenths of one percent) of the electricity generated in Connecticut — hardly a path to decarbonize the grid.

Read the entire article in the CT Mirror

To help change solar regulations, send us a message through the “Contact” button in the menu bar above.

Route 9 Middletown-Cromwell Multi-use Connector Trail

The proposed connector trail is indicated by the yellow line. The Arrigoni Bridge is at the bottom.

Let’s make it possible to bicycle or walk safely from downtown Middletown to Main Street in Cromwell via a multi-use trail constructed on the existing access road the lies parallel to Route 9, between the highway and the railroad tracks.

Here’s the background: Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 21-03, signed on December 16, 2021, lists actions to be taken by CT State agencies to achieve the goals of the Governor’s Climate Change Coalition (GC3).  Among them was this item:

DOT shall set a 2030 vehicle miles traveled reduction target and develop a plan of investments to contribute to and encourage the achievement of such targeted reductions. Continue reading