The Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) is a carefully constructed regional plan to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. If implemented, TCI will create allowances for the wholesale distribution of oil and gas, place a fee upon those allowances, and invest the resulting revenue in clean public transportation, electric vehicle infrastructure, and non-motorized transportation options such as bike routes. Over time, the allowances will decline and the cost will rise, to ensure lower emissions from transportation.
The emission reductions will occur because the revenue from the sale of allowances will be invested in clean transportation. For example, more electric school buses will use less gasoline and diesel fuel. That will also reduce emissions of particulate matter (PM) that are so harmful to respiratory health, especially for children whose developing lungs are especially vulnerable to particulate matter pollution. Asthma is often a direct result of PM pollution, and diesel school buses are notorious emitters of PM.
In short, TCI will produce a double benefit: 1) reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and 2) reduce air pollution that is especially harmful to children and low income residents of who live near highways and congested streets where air pollution is the worst.
In the 2021 session of the Connecticut General Assembly, TCI was vigorously opposed by Republicans and the oil and gas industry who called it a disguised gas tax that would lead to exorbitant gas prices at the pump that would ruin the economy and hurt the poor. But TCI actually includes a mechanism to ensure that the wholesale fees will not raise gas prices by more than 5 cents per gallon. And if Republicans really wanted to help the poor, they could 1) expand the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit that would offset a higher price for carbon, and 2) relieve the poor from the harmful effects of air pollution.
Since retail gas prices have risen in the past months, TCI is sure to face stiff opposition from its usual opponents. But if we delay climate action until a time when it is easy, painless, and convenient, we can be sure that no action will happen.
Urge Middletown’s Common Council and Mayor Florsheim to urge our local legislators and the leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly to pass legislation to enact TCI.
The City of Middletown is now constructing a walking trail to the top of the retired landfill — a project that the Jonah Center has been advocating since 2005. The views from the top are spectacular, and sure to be a magnet for residents of the North End and elsewhere. We will let our readers know when the trail is open for public access. Below are some pictures of the site taken 16 years ago, when our project advocacy began.
On November 6, an article on the project appeared in the Middletown Press.
View from the landfill mound looking north over the Floating Meadows (Mattabesset River). Cromwell is in the background.
On September 8, 2020, the City of Middletown Common Council voted unanimously to pass a Declaration of a Climate Emergency “that threatens the existence of our civilization and the natural world.” The declaration included bold statements of resolve: to make the declaration the “foundation up which the City of Middletown shall develop future priorities, legislation, policies, plans, budgets, and actions; to end City-generated greenhouse gas emissions by 2030; to establish plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by both the City and the wider community; and to advocate for coordinated climate action at the regional, state, and federal levels.” The Declaration included recognition that environmental justice is a racial justice issue and that “an equitable transition to a fossil-fuel-free economy requires full community participation.”
Over the past year, we haven’t heard much in terms of follow-through on the Declaration. Continue reading
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the Town of Portland’s Complete Streets achievements in recent years. This National Roadway Safety award recognizes the town’s sidewalk replacement program, road improvements, digital speed sign installation, bicycle routes, and the Air Line Trail.
The Jonah Center is proud to have played a role in all of these developments — in the formation of the Air Line Trail Steering Committee and the Complete Streets Group in 2014, and by urging the town to take advantage of a state-sponsored road safety audit that qualified the Town for 2 Connecticut DOT Community Connectivity grants. John Hall and former Jonah Center Board member Bob Herron co-chaired the Sidewalk Committee. Portland citizens and Town officials have been very supportive and resourceful in support of these initiatives. Congratulations, Portland.
Shown below at the Award Ceremony are (from left to right): Rosario Rizzo, Air Line Trail Committee; Lou Pear, Air Line Trail Committee and Selectman; Midge Malicki, Alice Schumacher, and Kathy Herron of the Complete Streets Group; Bob Shea, Public Works Director; Susan Bransfield, First Selectwoman; Jim Tripp, Selectman; and Mary Dickerson, Economic Development Consultant.
By Phil LeMontagne
Years ago our front yard contained a beautiful Crabapple tree and a lovely Red Maple. Each provided abundant shade, but still allowed enough light through to maintain a healthy green lawn. We planted a Hosta garden beneath the spreading boughs.
In light of increasing threats to the environment and inadequate response from all levels of government, the Jonah Center and Ecoin (the Environmental Collective Impact Network) are ramping up citizen action. We need more people to get involved, and we need to focus and coordinate our efforts more sharply.
In short, WE NEED YOUR VOICE. You can join this effort by filling out the questionnaire below. Tell us what you care about most — enough to send an email about it. Stay informed by joining our email lists — if you aren’t already on them. THANK YOU.
A land parcel at the intersection of West St. and Middlefield St. in Middletown (just west of the Aldi’s and CVS development at West & Washington) was approved for 17 town houses by Inland Wetlands and Planning and Zoning in recent years. Now the property is now for sale by the owner. (See rendering of project below.) Apparently, there are no regulations to prevent tree removal when there is no immediate construction planned. The photo below and commentary are from Ecoin member Zoemma Warshafsy, who lives nearby.
The majority of this property was nicely wooded with large mature trees that have now all been clear cut and stacked in giant piles. This area now looks devastating and the clear cutting was a complete waste of forested area along a sensitive river habitat. There is trash everywhere on the property as well. It has been like this for about two weeks and there is currently no sign of activity for further cleaning up the property. It could sit like this for years if it is not bought. Clear cutting before a property has a buyer is a terrible process that has no clear benefits for the environment or the adjacent land owners. What a sad sight to see every morning.
The City of Middletown, through its Clean Energy Task Force (CETF) and its CHEER Middletown program, has partnered with SustainableCT’s Matching Grant program and People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) to provide important energy-related programming in the City of Middletown.
CHEER is CETF’s program helping local residents address health and safety barriers in their homes in order to facilitate energy efficiency improvements and improve access to lower cost renewable energy. The HeatSmart program helps residents explore ways to improve how they heat and cool their homes by using efficient, electric heat pump systems. Together, the programs provide information and resources including educational events, home energy assessments, and connections with energy and remediation experts as well as local heat pump installers. Continue reading
Congratulations to Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim and the Public Works Department for supporting and implementing the Complete Streets Committee’s recommendation to reduce cut-through traffic on Spring Street by making it one-way eastbound between High Street and Rome Avenue.
The Complete Streets Committee pushed to include a westbound bike lane in the one-way section, since Spring Street is included in the Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Connector Route and is important for bicyclists riding from Portland into Middletown. The City decided to include bike lanes in both eastbound and westbound directions, which will reduce illegal parking that narrows the travel lane. In a WTNH News 8 interview, the Mayor supported the development of off-street parking in the area to address the need for resident parking. Continue reading
As of today (late June 2021) the Jonah Center has been successful in planting 17 trees in “high public benefit” areas in Portland. 8 trees were planted in the Quarry Heights and Chatham Court neighborhoods of the Portland Housing Authority (see above); 3 trees were planted in the Quarry View Brownstone Park; 3 trees were planted on East Main; 2 trees were planted on Main Street; and 1 was planted on Waverly Avenue. We thank all the Portland donors to the Jonah Center Tree Fund who made these new trees possible. Pictured above are: Milca Santiago; Bonita Brockers and her son Cartier Brockers; Jesslyn Jordan her daughter Savannah LaFountain and son Travis LaFountain.
Shown above is one of the red maples planted at Quarry View Park. Pictured are Darlene Rice (co-owner of the park) and John Hall. Photo credit: Dean Soucy, the other co-owner and park developer.
The Quarry View Park assumed 1/2 of the cost by delivering and planting the trees themselves, and Portland Housing Authority paid 3/5 of the cost of the ornamental trees they received. Most of the 17 trees were larger-growing shade trees such as red maple, oak, London plane, and linden.
Below are the 2 red maples and 1 pin oak on East Main Street near Fairview.
Middletown clothing store Ciinder + Salt at 195 Main Street organizes clean-up events throughout the season. Below is a list, with links for registration.
cinder + salt River Paddle & Clean-up with Time of Day Band
Saturday, August 14, 2021 | 8:30am-10:30am
Grab your kayak or paddleboard & meet cinder + salt at Harbor Park in Middletown for a river clean-up and paddle with our official tour guide, Dave from Time of Day Band.
Event registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cinder-salt-paddle-river-clean-up-with-time-of-day-band-tickets-141878623783?utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&utm-medium=discovery&utm-term=listing&utm-source=cp&aff=escb
Facebook event page: https://fb.me/e/Opk1IRda
cinder + salt Beach Clean-Up & Yoga Practice with Starr Mill Yoga
Saturday, September 4, 2021 | 8:30am-11:30am
cinder + salt is partnering with friends at Starr Mill Yoga for a seaside yoga practice and clean-up at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison.
Event registration and Facebook event page: https://fb.me/e/NIvGKQVB
cinder + salt Trail Clean-Up with The Rockfall Foundation
Saturday, September 25, 2021 | 9am-11am
Immerse yourself in beautiful fall foliage for cinder + salt’s final clean-up of the year with The Rockfall Foundation at Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middletown.
Event registration and Facebook event page: https://fb.me/e/2ehJuH8pd