Stopping State Handouts for Sprawl

Jul 21, 2014 at 4:39pm by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Over the past year it has been troubling to see large new development projects planned for areas around Vermont’s highway interchanges. It was not that long ago that Vermont’s then Governor Howard Dean issued an executive order protecting our highway interchanges from sprawl development. Our public dollars created the interstates and we have a responsibility – to our pocketbooks and to our environment – to take good care of them. That responsibility includes avoiding traffic snarling commercial sprawl at our highway exits. Highway sprawl is expensive. A look at the roadway improvements planned around Burlington, Vermont, including two multi-million dollar interchange re-builds, show that many of them are needed now because of the commercial sprawl that sprang up around these exits.  As federal transportation dollars dwindle, we can ill afford read more…

This Week on TalkingFish.org – July 14-18

Jul 18, 2014 at 4:53pm by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

July 14 - The Beer-Reviewed Stock Assessment: A Fisheries Phenomenon - We’ve all heard about peer-reviewed stock assessments. That’s what you get when a team of biologists assesses the health of one stock of fish, and another panel of expert scientists, unrelated to the first, reviews that team’s work and determines whether it is good enough to use for fisheries management purposes. If it is, it represents a sort of “gold standard” for fisheries managers, who can then establish regulations based on the assessment, and be reasonably certain that they’re doing the right thing. However, if you go down to the docks, pick up a press release put out by one of the anglers’ rights groups or read some of the comments on Internet chat boards, you’ll find that a lot of people read more…

Launching a New Phase of the Great Bay–Piscataqua Waterkeeper Program

Jul 17, 2014 at 12:04pm by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

The Great Bay–Piscataqua Waterkeeper vessel will be launched in the next week or so amidst absolutely no fanfare. The reason? We first need to take it out for a shakedown cruise and equipment tests. Many folks have spent considerable time and effort raising funds to purchase the 20-foot, center-console Key West skiff from Port Harbor Marine in Kittery, Maine. The Waterkeeper Advisory Group, a group of energetic supporters from around the bay, was key in raising the funds to purchase the boat. In addition to contributions from businesses like the Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, ME, and the Wentworth Marina in New Castle, generous amounts have been provided by individuals. But we are not quite done. An additional $5K is still necessary to pay for outfitting the vessel and anticipated read more…

The Boston Globe Visits Cashes Ledge

Jul 14, 2014 at 5:21pm by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

If you picked up The Boston Globe on Sunday, you may have noticed this striking photograph of a scuba diver swimming through a lush, colorful kelp forest. The photo might have been familiar to you – it was taken by our friend Brian Skerry on Cashes Ledge, one of the most remarkable places in the Gulf of Maine. The Globe’s front-page article lays out some of the reasons why Cashes Ledge is so important – it says “the frigid waters and glacier-sculpted peaks are home to a billowy kelp forest and an abundant array of life, from multicolored anemones to cod the size of refrigerators”; notes that the Ledge has been protected from trawling for more than a decade, creating a sanctuary of biodiversity; and acknowledges the importance of Cashes Ledge as a breeding ground for depleted cod. read more…

VT Gas Pipeline: Review Ballooning Costs and Halt Construction

Jul 14, 2014 at 11:03am by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

CLF is asking Vermont regulators to examine the Vermont Gas pipeline project in light of its soaring costs. Construction should be halted unless and until regulators approve the changed project. Soaring costs require reassessment. Recently Vermont Gas announced that the costs for its new gas pipeline will be 40% higher than they represented to regulators. These higher costs come as no surprise to CLF or to Vermont Gas. Vermont law requires regulators to review new utility projects. Regulators can only approve projects if they will “promote the general good of the state.” Approvals are not blank checks. When costs soar, benefits decline.  Construction cannot move forward without review and approval of the changed project. Vermont law has long required that when there is a substantial change to a project, an read more…

Three Ugly Numbers Behind the Governors’ Push for Canadian Hydropower

Jul 10, 2014 at 10:37pm by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

  As the New England Governors and the Eastern Canadian Premiers gather in Bretton Woods for their annual conference next week, it’s likely there will be much discussion of building new transmission lines to enable additional imports of Canadian hydropower into New England. Indeed, financing such transmission lines is the centerpiece of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s pending energy bill and the supposedly “clean” half of the New England Governors’ massive gas pipeline and hydropower plan. Earlier this year, after the Governors’ energy plan emerged, I broke down three big questions about increasing hydropower imports through new transmission projects: namely, cost, environmental impact, and reliability. We’re not alone in asking these questions. Just yesterday, the Boston Business Journal’s managing editor argued that the region deserves a fuller, better accounting of the total costs read more…

The Elephant Not in the Room at the New England Governors – Eastern Canadian Premiers Conference: Tar Sands Fuels and Climate Impacts

Jul 10, 2014 at 4:42pm by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

This Sunday marks the start of the annual New England Governors–Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG-ECP) Conference. Each year, these regional leaders join forces to discuss pressing policy issues of mutual importance to their states and provinces. While energy issues have been a regular feature of recent NEG-ECP conferences, we understand that a certain energy elephant will be conspicuously absent from the conference room this year: tar sands fuels. Tar sands fuels are slated to hit the region soon, and in a big way. While our current fuel mix is virtually tar sands free, the expansion of tar sands pipelines in the region and nationally means that this dirty fuel could soon make up as much as 18% of our fuel mix by 2020. This rapid shift has huge climate consequences, given read more…

Summertime Is Not the Time to Fertilize Your Lawn!

Jul 10, 2014 at 12:05pm by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Indeed, maybe you shouldn’t fertilize at all. I do not believe that my Dad ever put anything on our lawn. The neighbors never complained that we weren’t keeping up with the Joneses and we kids were thrilled not to have to mow it as often. If you ever pushed a reel mower, you know why. But, it’s different today – vibrant green and absolutely not one dandelion are apt descriptions of what many folks aspire to. But there is a price to pay. Estuaries across the country are under assault from too much nitrogen and New Hampshire’s Great Bay is no exception. In fact, that is precisely why Great Bay’s waters are officially impaired by the EPA – too much nitrogen. Sewage treatment plants are certainly a source of excessive read more…

CLF Appeals Withholding of Public Records on Regional Energy Plans

Jul 10, 2014 at 9:00am by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Conservation Law Foundation filed appeals in Vermont and Massachusetts regarding the withholding of public documents about the development of the New England Governors’ regional energy plans, which include gas pipeline and hydropower projects. CLF requested these documents in March to bring transparency to the process surrounding the Governors’ plans, which to date have been shrouded in unnecessary secrecy. In Vermont, CLF primarily seeks documents that the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) – the agency working to implement the massive initiative – has refused to produce. CLF appealed NESCOE’s refusal under Vermont’s broad access to public records law. Vermont law is clear that all entities that act as an arm of the state and perform a government function are subject to Vermont’s Access to Public Records Law. Vermont has read more…

CLF and Allies to Department of Energy: Take off the Blinders in Northern Pass Review

Jul 3, 2014 at 12:50pm by  | Bio |  3 Comments »

Back in May, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a report listing the alternatives to the Northern Pass transmission project that the agency may study during its environmental review. As I explained at the time, the report was a hard-won victory for transparency in the federal permitting process for Northern Pass. Unfortunately, the report failed to answer key questions, to include obvious and reasonable alternatives, or to demonstrate that the agency was independently and impartially considering the public’s feedback. Last week, CLF and several environmental allies explained the problems with the alternatives report in detailed comments to DOE and the other federal and state agencies participating in the environmental review (PDF here, 6MB .zip archive of exhibits here). Our message: DOE must consider a broader set of alternatives to the project than those listed in read more…

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