Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Naked Truth

What do you do when a naked stranger walks into the backyard of your vacation house at the beach? Here's what I did a year ago.

Friday, July 29, 2005

LNG Proponents, Save the Sound to Discuss Plans for Energy Plant in the Middle of the Sound

The corporate suits who want to put a huge liquefied natural gas plant in the middle of Long Island Sound will have a chance to make their case to the public and the Southwest Regional Planning Agency at a meeting in Stamford on Monday night, August 1.

Save the Sound, which opposes the plant, will argue its case too, and there will be time for questions and answers, evasive and otherwise.

The meeting will be on the third floor** of the Stamford Government Center, 888 Washington Boulevard. It will start at 7 p.m.

There's another interesting meeting (I realize that's an oxymoron) at the same time in Bridgeport to talk about a project that I don't yet know much about but which sounds important. Here's the text of an e-mail I got about it:

During the past year the Connecticut Conservation Association, Inc. has been working with the Rivers Alliance of CT and the CT DEP through the small watershed grants program to focus attention on the environmental problems confronting the nine, small coastal watersheds in the Greater Bridgeport Region.

Included among these watersheds are: the Pequonnock River, Mill River, Sasco Brook, Ash Creek-Rooster River, Cricker Brook, Booth Hill Brook, Yellow Mill Channel, Bruce Brook and the Stratford Great Meadows - Johnson's Creek.

In order to indentify critical issues facing these watersheds and establish protection and reglulatory priorities, a special citizen stake-holder meeting has been scheduled for August 1, 2005 @ 7PM in the Community room of the North Branch of the Bridgeport Public Library -3455 Madison Avenue, Bridgeport, CT.

Folks interested in any one of these critical watersheds should plan to attend and comment on the issues important to them. It is hoped that this meeting will identify a nucleus of concerned citizens and result in the creation of a "Greater Bridgeport Regional Watershed Alliance.

**It's been moved to the second floor in anticipation of a large audience.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Madison Landing: What Kind of Development is OK for the Long Island Sound Area?

What kind of development should be allowed near Long Island Sound? Does it matter if a project is a typical subdivision, with houses spread out on large lots, or a "new urbanist" development that tries to create a neighborhood that fits in with the larger community?

In Madison, Connecticut, a developer wants to build 127 houses on an old airport next to Hammonasset state park, and use a septic system to treat its sewage.

Madison Landing, as it's called, is different because it is new urbanist. It will have sidewalks, streets that lead somewhere rather than cul-de-sacs, front porches, houses and townhouses on relatively small lots, a community meeting place, a trail near the salt marsh. It was designed by Duany Plater-Zyberk, a firm that has made its reputation proselytizing for traditional neighborhoods and against commonplace subdivisions.

Has that won it good will among neighbors? Not much apparently.

More important, though, is that while the development company has gotten town approvals, it has yet to convince the Connecticut DEP that its sewage won't affect Hammonasset and the Sound. Last week the Hartford Courant reported:

Engineers at the DEP are scrutinizing the designs for Madison Landing's septic system, to make sure sewage and wastewater from the proposed development won't end up in the Hammonasset River and the sensitive salt marsh that surrounds the property.

The long delay has raised the hopes of residents in Clinton and Madison who have opposed the project for years.

I happen to be biased in favor of "new urbanist" projects, and I'm friends with a couple of the people who worked tangentially on Madison Landing, which might make me more biased. But this seems to be one of those situations where a piece of property -- in this case, the old airport -- is going to be developed one way or another, and probably should be developed. So do you want a typical large-lot subdivision? A mall? More suburban sprawl? Or is it worth trying something new?

One of the people I know who worked on it is John Massengale, an architect and new urbanist planner, who participated in a charette for the project in 2001 and 2002. Last week I asked John about it in an e-mail. Here's what he said:

My reaction to reading the story is that the residents of Madison don’t really know as much about sewage and septic as they pretend to, but that they are NIMBYs grasping at whatever environmental straw they can.

Should the project be stopped if it is doing environmental damage? Yes.

Is the motive of Madison residents saving the environment? I don’t think so.

Nobody is helped by NIMBYs who use whatever means they can to try to stop projects.

A review process intended to judge the quality of the project would be an entirely different project.

John says that a town in New York that he and I are familiar with "makes developers jump through environmental hoops and still ends up with BAD PLACES, because they are not judging the quality of the places they review." He adds:

Sometimes they think they are, but they have lawyers, engineers and non-visual planners advising them.

Do you know Dana Beach, the Director of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League (SCCCL)? Many years ago he commissioned Dover Kohl [a planning firm] to study the effects of concentrated development versus sprawl, and more recently he’s written a paper for the Pew Ocean Commission (which he’s on, I think).

One of Andres’s standard comments is that environmentalists won’t let us build Charleston today. Dana comments that we have to look at the big picture and make tradeoffs for the common good and the environment as a whole.

Nobody wants their hometown to change dramatically, and nobody wants development that's going to damage Long Island Sound. But the old airport is going to be built on, so let's move past suburban sprawl and get something better. Here's hoping the DEP scrutinizes it as closely as anything it's ever scrutinized, and finds that it's worthy of approving.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Stamford Will Soon Smell Better

The neighborhood that surrounds Stamford’s sewage treatment plant will soon stink a lot less. The city is almost finished with its $105 million sewage plant reconstruction project, and it includes a $6 million odor-control component, which should be completed by the end of August. When I first toured the plant, 17 years ago, Jeanette Brown (who was then Jeanette Semon) excused the smell by saying it was inevitable. Obviously, a lot changes in 17 years and soon the smell will be gone, which is good news for Stamford.

I went back to the plant last August to interview Jeanette, who runs the treatment plant operation, for a magazine article, and she gave me some even better news – the upgrade will result in improved nitrogen-removal capabilities at the plant, which was already one of the best on the Sound. By the beginning of 2005, Jeanette told me, the Stamford plant will already have exceeded the 2014 nitrogen reduction goals set by the Long Island Sound Study. Stamford’s 20 million gallons a day are a mere drop, but when everyone else follows it will mean a healthier ecosystem. Or so we hope.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Is Long Island Sound Sponge-Worthy?

Storm sewers in South Norwalk are being fitted with sponges (contraceptive jokes should be directed to the comments section, please) in a half-million-dollar experiment to see if they can rid the water of contaminants (stormwater in general in our region is so rife with pathogens, that it’s unsafe to swim at the beaches or eat raw shellfish from local waters after a heavy rain).

Terry Backer, the Soundkeeper, is working with Norwalk to install “box-like filters containing ‘Smart Sponges’ ” in 275 SoNo storm sewers. It’s an experiment because while the sponges have apparently worked in California, no one has tried them in colder climates.

The sponges are made by a company called AbTech. Here’s what its website says:

AbTech has developed the capability to bind an anti-microbial agent to its proprietary polymers thereby modifying their surface and adding micro biostatic features while maintaining their oil absorbing capabilities. The enhanced material, or Smart Sponge Plus, destroys harmful bacteria and other pathogens frequently found in stormwater and other water streams. The Company believes that this breakthrough is highly significant in the stormwater market.

The project is being funded by the feds, the state and a private foundation. I haven’t seen a budget, but $500,000 is a lot of money, although the cost presumably includes monitoring and analysis that wouldn’t be needed over the long term if they are shown to be effective. On the other hand, I can’t find anything that indicates whether the sponges themselves are expensive and if they have to be replaced often.

Would the economic benefit of keeping the beaches and shellfish beds outweigh the cost of the sponges? One would hope so. On the other hand, without the sponges, would the city be required to try other, more expensive stormwater controls – in other words, might the sponges be the lesser of two expensive choices?

If there’s a cost-benefit analysis around, or being planned, it would be interesting to see it, to determine if the beaches and oyster grounds really are sponge-worthy.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Interested in the news and commentary about whether the bird in Arkansas really was an ivory-billed woodpecker? Bootstrap Analysis has another good discussion.

Fishers Island's Real World

The 250 year-round residents of Fishers Island are looking for new neighbors. They want people who might join the volunteer fire department, people who will be active in community organizations, and people with kids who will go to school there. They are so determined to build the population that they have brought in the Island Institute to help them figure out how to do it.

Fishers Island, of course, is part of New York’s Suffolk County, although the only way to get there is via a 45-minute ferry ride from New London. It is small and isolated, the grocery store opens for just two hours a day in winter, and you would imagine the March can be a bleak as it gets. That’s one reality of Fishers Island. The other is that if you live there and you’re of normal economic means, roughly half the island – the eastern half – is off-limits, gated, and open only to the Duponts and the Roosevelts and other wealthy people who can afford houses there and membership in the Fishers Island Club.

I don’t point this out as a criticism. Last August, the east-enders invited me out to give a talk about the Sound (it was open to everyone, and a diverse crowd attended, but it was a couple of east enders who organized it), paid me a nice, appropriate honorarium, put me and my wife up for the night as the guest of a very nice and hospitable fellow, and took us to dinner at the club, which I enjoyed even though I had to wear a tie. One of the people we had dinner with had played golf a couple of days earlier at the club with Porter Goss, who had just been nominated to head the CIA. One of our hosts at the club was a Dupont, and when I got back home I ran into Christopher Dupont Roosevelt, FDR’s grandson, who told me how sorry he was that he hadn’t been on the island that week and therefore couldn’t come to hear me talk.

In other words, Fishers Island is two different worlds. But I hope they succeed in attracting new families. Here’s a terrific story from the New London Day that explains what’s going on and why they need people to move there (the story is from yesterday so you’ll need to register, but it’s worth it).

Monday, July 25, 2005

Water Quality is Getting Worse as July Wears On

Water quality as measured by dissolved oxygen got worse last week throughout the parts of Long Island Sound between Westchester and Nassau, as well as in pockets of water in Smithtown Bay and off Bridgeport. Almost five per cent of the Sound – 60 square miles of water – had dissolved oxygen levels below 3 milligrams per liter.

Connecticut DEP distributed its water quality maps this morning and they clearly show a deterioration from earlier in the month. The first map is based on samples taken between July 18 and 21. The second is based on samples taken between July 7 and 12. The red area in the far west of the Sound was where DO concentrations were between 1 and 1.99 milligrams per liter; the orange area was between 2 and 2.99 milligrams per liter, and the yellow between 3 and 3.49.

The unfortunate thing is that this is fairly typical – hypoxia is still a severe problem in the Sound. Here’s a post from a couple of weeks ago that explains why.

Should the Eastern Oyster be on the Endangered Species List? It's Worth Considering

"I think I like best the oysters from Long Island Sound," M.F.K. Fisher wrote in 1941. My experience is not as wide and varied as hers but I like best the oysters from the Sound too, particularly a dozen I ate last summer during a brief visit to Fishers Island. Long Island Sound oysters are indisputably delicious -- when you can find them. And therein lies the problem. The Sound's oyster industry is dependent on a body of water that is as heavily urbanized as any in the world, and the oysters themselves are so sensitive to environmental degradation that they can easily become vectors of frightening illnesses that bring to mind the wisdom not of M.F.K. Fisher but of Hemingway, who remarked, "I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead."

But with the effects of environmental degradation being so dramatic, do we need another threat to Crassostrea virginica, the eastern oyster? A former U.S. Fisheries Service official in Maryland says no. He is arguing that if Maryland gets its way and introduces the exotic Asian oyster, Crassostrea ariakensis, into Chesapeake Bay, it might in fact lead to the eastern oyster's extinction, which would give another meaning entirely to Hemingway's "I want my food dead."

The former official, Wolf-Dieter N. Busch, has petitioned the federal government to list the eastern oyster as a threatened or endangered species. Oyster growers in the Long Island Sound area, as well as environmentalists such as Soundkeeper Terry Backer and Art Glowka, one of the founders of Riverkeeper, say Busch's idea is terrible. They say that oysters, particularly in the Sound, don't need federal protections that might lead to limits on how many can be harvested.

And it is true that one aspect of Busch's petition is specious, namely his argument that evidence of the oyster's troubles can be found in the fact that the annual oyster harvest in the eastern U.S. is only two percent of what it was at its peak, in the late 1800s. That peak was in fact an unsustainable over harvest, and saying that oysters are endangered because we're not harvesting as many as when we were harvesting too many is a weak argument.

Nevertheless, I think Busch has some valid points. Here's what his petition says:

Whereas historically the oyster created 'high-rise reefs' ... (up to 50 ft. high), washed by clean nutritious waters of various levels of salinity, much of the current remnant stock is trying to survive in single layers, often in muck ..., washed by dirty water, frequently low in oxygen, and with little variations in salinity. These unsuitable conditions have encouraged low survival of their wild progeny or hatchery seedlings due to excessive mortality caused by diseases, predation, siltation and, in some micro habitats, periodic low levels of oxygen. ...

The most critical new concern is the potential introduction of the exotic Asian oyster, Crassostrea ariakensis. Accidental or purposeful introduction of exotic species have generally caused many more problems than benefits and usually can not be reversed. In this specific case, the introduction of the Asian oyster may result in the extinction of the eastern oyster from competition and hybridization.

Art Glowka and others know well the problems that exotic species, particularly the Asian shore crab, have caused. It does not seem far-fetched at all to suppose that the Asian oyster could gradually replace the eastern oyster. People in the oyster business, such as Jimmy and Norm Bloom, who work out of Norwalk, and Karen Rivara, of Southold, might not care -- a marketable oyster is, after all, a marketable oyster.

But even if federal fisheries officials decide not to declare the eastern oyster endangered, Busch's petition offers a good opportunity to consider and oppose Maryland's plan to introduce an exotic species into a not-too-distant estuary.

My reason is M.F.K. Fisher's: I think I like best the oysters from Long Island Sound -- Crassosteria virginica, that is, not Crassosteria ariakensis.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ebb Tide on the Sandbars

When the tide drops in Westport, people slosh out to the shoals, where exploring is as rewarding as in the tide pools and easier on the feet.

A Treasure in the Clam Beds

A man who was digging clams off Branford, Connecticut, found a gold wedding band among the beds of Mercenaria mercenaria. When his wife cleaned off the encrustations, the inscription looked familiar -- it was his wedding band. Two years ago it had slipped off his finger while he was clamming in the same spot.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Keep Your Boat Away from the Ferry

The Coast Guard is sending boats out to maintain a 300-yard security zone around local ferries, and has increased patrols on the ferries themselves. From the sound of it in this Providence Journal story, they take their job seriously:

"We'll do whatever is necessary to keep the security zone open. We'll take any means necessary to protect. . . . We'll go as far as to shoot," said Petty Officer Lucas Marland, 23, who served as coxswain. The four crew members wore bulletproof vests beneath their life jackets and carried 9mm Beretta handguns. Seaman Phillip Montoya, 30, stood lookout with an M-16.

Marland ... took the loudspeaker. "All vessels stop on this side of the channel. Wait till the ferry goes outbound," he called to the half-dozen small fishing boats making their way toward the western gap in the breakwater.

Most complied without hesitation. One testy fisherman in a wide-brimmed hat waved Marland off. "Don't argue," Marland commanded.

Their threshold is a minimum of 150 passengers. ProJo says there are 300 such ferries nationwide, 110 of them from New York to the Canadian border.

Friday, July 22, 2005

"thousands of fish called marsbancken"

Bunker are starting to show up in Long Island Sound, according to the fishing blogs (here and here), as are bluefish of five to 15 pounds. Bluefish, bunker and hot weather are often a perfect recipe for the typical summertime bunker kills, which occur in shallow bays, harbors and tidal creeks. (Bunker, by the way, is fishermen-speak for mossbunkers/menhaden.)

Fisheries experts tend to distinguish between bunker kills and the fish kills of July 1987, when a dozen or more species of fish and crustaceans were killed in the Sound because of a fast and severe drop in dissolved oxygen concentrations. The big fish kills were clearly pollution-related; the bunker kills probably are not.

Why do I say that? For one thing, bunker kills have been occurring in coastal waters and estuaries for a long time. In 1679 a Dutchman visiting Staten Island reported:

“Lying rotting upon the shore were thousands of fish called marsbancken, which are about the size of a common carp. These fish swim close together in large schools, and are pursued so by other fish that they are forced upon the shore in order to avoid the mouths of their enemies, and when the water falls they are left there to die, food for the eagles and other birds of prey."

About 150 years later, Henry David Thoreau was living on Staten Island with William Emerson, Ralph Waldo’s brother. He spent a lot of time exploring the beaches and also observed a mossbunker or menhaden kill. (Thoreau and Walt Whitman, by the way, spelled it ‘moss bonkers.’)

There’s no telling whether we’ll see any fish kills in the Sound this summer. But if we do, it’s important to recognize the bunker kills for what they are and to not act as if the Sound were dying simply because something that was witnessed 326 years ago is happening again.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Discoverers of the Ivory-Bill Stick to Their Guns But Will the Challenge to Their Sighting Hurt Endangered Species Protection

The question of whether reports of the ivory-billed woorpecker’s extinction were greatly exaggerated gets an airing in today’s Times, where Andy Revkin has a piece that picks up where Bootstrap Analysis started yesterday.

The authors of the paper – which will be published in a peer-reviewed, online journal – challenging the ivory-billed woodpecker report maintain that they’re not saying ivory-bills aren’t still around, only that the evidence submitted by the ornithologists who reported in April that they saw one in Arkansas isn’t conclusive. The team that saw the ivory-bill isn’t backing down.

“We can counter everything,” he said. “We stick to our guns.”

More interesting is what Bootstrap Analysis has to say. He makes an educated guess that the online journal is PloS Biology, a journal that’s available to everyone, not just subscribers. The original sighting was reported in Science, which is highly-regarded and available only to subscribers. Why is that important?

[The] paper could have serious ramifications on endangered species conservation. Publishing open-access may provide an easy source of ammunition (without balance) for those willing to use normal scientific dissent as proof we need to raise the bar to unreasonably high standards prior to species protection. Uh-oh.

Here’s Bootstrap Analysis. It has all the links an interested reader could want.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Was It Really an Ivory-Bill?

Could the ivory-billed woodpecker seen in Arkansas recently really have been nothing more than a pileated woodpecker, a common bird that we have here in Connecticut and New York? A blog called Bootstrap Analysis says that a group of ornithologists is about to publish a paper arguing that the Arkansas bird was misidentified and was really a pileated.

Bootstrap Analysis (written by an ornithologist whose name isn’t on his blog, or if it is I can’t find it) discusses why the skeptics might be wrong, why they're right to publish their findings anyway, and how their paper is likely to be misinterpreted and misused in the mainstream media by people who would be happy not to protect land for endangered species. Worth a look, particularly if you're interested in birds.

Sound "Celebration" to Focus on LNG Proposal

The proposal to put a liquefied natural gas plant in the middle of Long Island Sound -- as outrageous an idea as anyone could come up with -- is prompting environmental groups to get together a week from Sunday in Branford, Connecticut, for what is being billed as "A Bi-State Day of Celebrating Long Island Sound."

The sponsoring organizations are Save the Sound, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Anti-Broadwater Coalition, Sound Alliance, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and Hands Across Our Pond, which Leah Lopez of Save the Sound tells me is a relatively is a new group founded by Lonnie Reid, a member of Branford's Representative Town Meeting.

Noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 31, at 134 and 138 Pawson Road, Branford. Check the Save the Sound and Connecticut Fund for the Environment websites for more information.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Truth, Beauty, Culture, Homer, Shakespeare

Where’s Winslow Homer?
Gina and I have been to the Adirondacks at least eight times since I last visited the Hyde Collection, in 1981, which means we’ve driven past its exit on the Northway, at Glens Falls, at least 16 times, and each time we talked about stopping there. But we never did, until last week. On a recent rainy Friday, as we drove home from a trip that took us to the Champlain Valley and the High Peaks region, we made the detour and spent about an hour at the Hyde Collection. It’s a terrific little museum, consisting mainly of the collection of Louis Fiske Hyde and his wife, Charlotte Pruyn Hyde. It has sculptures, tapestries, furniture and other artifacts, and one or two works by a lot of interesting painters: Picasso, El Greco, Botticelli, Rubens, Rembrandt, Homer, Seurat, Eakins, Pisarro, Renoir, Ingres, Hassam and Bierstadt, among others.

The building that houses the collection was the Hydes’ house. It was designed as a Florentine villa, but it seems modest in size and general grandiosity by the standards of other 19th- and early 20th-century robber barons, industrialists, and land-rapers. Mrs. Hyde’s father was a founder of the Finch Pruyn paper company, and the family made its money by laying waste to the Adirondack forests in the 19th century and turning the trees into newsprint. But at least she didn’t completely sequester herself from the unsightly source of her wealth. Glance away from a Rubens portrait in one of the house’s rooms and you can see Finch Pruyn’s Glens Falls mill, its huge machines grabbing logs from a pile of timber of a scale that wouldn’t be out of place at Cheops, and sending them to the mill with its huge smokestacks.

Not that I mean to single out the Finches or the Pruyns, or even the Hydes for that matter. Museums and galleries and collections throughout the U.S. are filled with paintings bought with the profits of pollution and environmental degradation (and then given away for tax breaks from the IRS), just as the buildings that house them were built with those profits. The Adirondack forests have grown back, their destruction led to the Forever Wild section of the state constitution, and Finch Pruyn is now logging 160,000 or so acres in what it claims (and I have no reason not to believe them) is a sustainable manner. And at least we can go see the paintings.

When I was there in 1981, the visitors center and new gallery had not been built, and everything was in the villa itself. It was relatively small and intimate and dark, and it felt as if I were in Mrs. Hyde’s house, rather than in a museum, and that the old woman herself might be in the atrium taking tea. I went specifically to look at one of Winslow Homer’s Adirondack watercolors, “A Good One,” and it was on my mind again on this visit.

My favorite room this time was the Down Guest Room, which was one of the first we walked through. A small Homer called “Adirondack Guide” hung on a dark wall near the door (this being an old house, the lighting occasionally is more conducive to napping than to looking at paintings), and nearby there was a terrific Homer watercolor called “Forebodings,” which depicts two women holding babies on a foggy shore presumably waiting for their fishermen husbands and fathers to return. Over the bed in the Down Guest Room is a Bierstadt (“Yosemite”), and near the bathroom is a beautiful Childe Hassam called “Geraniums” -- brilliant sunlight, a woman in the background knitting or doing some other handiwork, two watering cans in the foreground, and small drops of vermillion geraniums.

It took us about an hour to look through all the galleries, and when we were finished I was baffled by not having encountered “A Good One.” A guard on the second floor didn’t know its whereabouts. A woman at the information desk had no idea where it might be and in fact had never heard of it. She asked a guard near the front door, but he had never heard of it either. Maybe I was imagining things. I found a Hyde Collection catalogue in the gift shop and quickly flipped to the page with “A Good One.” I showed it to the woman at the information desk, who took it to yet another guard - one who had worked at the Hyde Collection for longer than the others, I gathered. Oh yes, he said. It used to be in the Down Guest Room, hanging on the dank wall where “Adirondack Guide” now hangs. It’s been in storage for a couple of years, presumably to protect it. I was disappointed, but I hadn’t expected to see the other two Homers, and the rest of the collection,
including the Childe Hassam.

The suggested donation at the Hyde Collection is $8 for a family, which is a bargain, even if you have a daughter who will sit in the lobby and read, and a son whose energetic wanderings threaten to topple the sculptures in the atrium and set off the alarms protecting the book collection in the library. It was well worth the detour.

Where the Bee Sucks, There Suck I …
On Wednesday it was overcast and humid, but there was no rain, and so we went to Boscobel, in Garrison, New York, to see The Tempest, put on by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (not that the weather mattered - the show goes on, rain or shine).

We brought our dinner, as Boscobel encourages play-goers to do, and ate on the lawn. It has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. Garrison is in the heart of the Hudson Highlands, and the lawn looks south over Constitution Marsh and toward the Bear Mountain Bridge.

The play itself was terrific. The tent that covers the seats looks out past the lawn to the Highlands (throughout the performance we could see commuter trains running along the west shore of the Hudson), and the cast magically came and went through the darkening landscape, materializing far off among the trees or seeming to rise out of the grass.

We had been to Boscobel before but never to the Shakespeare Festival. The play cost $25, and for that price you can wander around the gardens at will; considering that it costs $7 to visit the gardens without seeing the play, it is truly a bargain, and a delight. They're also staging Two Gentlemen of Verona this summer, and they'll do two more next summer. Depending on the play, we’ll be sure to go again.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Greenwich Point Beach Isn't as Nice as Greenwich Seems to Think

People who don't live in Greenwich and who want to occasionally use the town's beaches to reach the publicly-owned waters of Long Island Sound have long known that the town's beach admission policies for non-residents are designed to keep them out.

Now, thanks to the Greenwich Time, they know the policy is working and they know that at least one elected official in Greenwich is happy about it.

They also know that if you dare enter a Greenwich beach without paying, the police will treat you like public enemy number one and set up road block to stop you from getting out -- even if you're a 75-year-old man on a bike.

Greenwich used to have a policy of not letting anyone on its beaches who didn't live in town. Then Brenden Leydon of Stamford sued and won, and the courts told Greenwich that it could no longer keep non-residents out.

So Greenwich officials decided they'd charge $25 a day to park at the beach and $10 a person to enter. For a family of five, that's obviously $75 for a day at the beach. As if that's not onerous enough, you have to buy your permits to enter and park at Town Hall, which is not near any of the beaches. So even if you feel like laying out $75, you have to deal with downtown traffic and a Town Hall bureaucrat. Who'd bother?

The Greenwich Time looked at the non-resident attendance and found that the number of people who would bother has been declining annually: 11,081 out of towners in 2002, 8,200 in 2003, and 7,740 last year.

A Selectman with the name Peter Crumbine could not be happier:

"I think things have turned out better than expected. There has not been a flood of people wanting to get into our beach."

The beach policies so happily accepts have prompted at least one case of civil disobedience. From the Greenwich Time:

On June 8, [Paul] Kempner, a 75-year-old retiree, disobeyed a gatekeeper's orders to the pay the fee and entered the beach, police said, who were waiting for the cyclist at the beach's entrance when he exited.

"The police car was there blocking the road like I was some thief," said Kempner, who said he would plead not guilty when he appears in state Superior Court in Stamford on Aug. 24 on the infraction, which carries a $92 fine.

Kempner said he would use the incident to shed light on the town's beach fees, which he described as a costly impediment to his free speech rights.

"It's just prohibitive price-wise," he said. "For me to go in every day is $70 every week. I can't do that.

Here's how a few other Connecticut towns handle beach fees for out of towners (all this is from the local governments' web sites):

West Haven: Admission is free but parking for non-residents is available for a $10 daily fee at Morse Park and Sandy Point, while Oak Street, Rock Street and Bradley Point require a $10 daily fee or a $5 fee after 4 p.m.

Milford: Non Residents pay $5 per day to the parking attendant at either Gulf Beach or Walnut Beach.

Stratford: Beach Stickers for non-residents are $100/season or $10/day for Long Beach, and $5.00 for a daily pass at Short Beach.

Westport: $15 per car on weekdays and $30 on weekends for Compo.

The Greenwich Time story implies that Kempner might sue. A lawyer used the term "grudging compliance" to characterize Greenwich's reaction to its loss in court. I hope Kempner does sue and I hope he wins.

But Crumbine and the others who want to keep unelect out might think about another reason out-of-town attendance has fallen: Greenwich Point isn't that great.

True, it's nice in winter -- in fact that photo at the top of this page was taken there on New Year's Day. But I've also been to Compo in Westport, and the beach there is better than the one at Greenwich Point. And Westport residents don't mind sharing it with the unwashed out of towners.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Scientists Think New England's Lobsters Might be on the Verge of a Big Die-Off

Some scientists think conditions are right for a catastrophic lobster die-off elsewhere in New England, like the one that hit Long Island Sound in 1999.

Lobster scientists met in Rhode Island the other day for a symposium and the Providence Journal reported that rose-colored glasses weren't exactly in evidence.

The star of the show was J. Stanley Cobb, a retired biological sciences professor at the University of Rhode Island, co-author of a standard lobster text and a mentor to many of those at the symposium.

Peter Lord, ProJo's environment reporter, wrote:

Cobb, in a presentation, said he is concerned about the effects on lobsters of rising water temperataures and pollutants in bottom sediments.

"It makes one wonder whether the net result is a lower threshold to disease. It's a real concern. And I don't have a clue what to do. A new disease would change natural mortality rates, and impact what fishermen can take out of the population. So to me, that's a real challenge to lobster biologists. The emergence of disease is an important population leveling factor."

Lord then went on to quote a lobster biologist named Jan Factor (who coincidentally was my roommate for a while back in '83 and '84, when he was first teaching at SUNY Purchase and I was starting as a reporter):

Jan Factor, a biologist at State University of New York, offered a way of looking at what is happening to lobsters, based on his observations following the dramatic die-off of lobsters in western Long Island Sound in 1999.

First there is an environmental stress. In the Sound it was water temperatures rising to levels lethal to lobsters. Also, dissolved oxygen in the water declined dramatically.

The stresses caused physiological problems for the lobsters that weakened their immune systems. That allowed a breakout of disease. In the Sound, it was shell disease and a parasitic amoeba. The result was dramatic mortalities.

"The same things won't happen everywhere," Factor said. "But fill in your own stresses, upsets and diseases. We can generalize from the experience in Long Island Sound, which was a very extreme experience."

Lobster population, and the role of lobstermen in raising the population to what might be artificially high levels, is also important. Here's what I wrote in my book:

In the Sound, lobsters are almost like livestock being raised for slaughter. A lobsterman on the Sound can haul a trap crammed with up to twenty undersized lobsters for every keeper. These "shorts" have gorged themselves on the bait, and since the lobsterman must by law toss them back, he is, in effect, feeding lobsters now so they will be big enough to keep later.

Here's what Lord reported:

In Maine, lobster catches continue at high levels. But the scientists pointed out that lobster populations have increased in direct proportion to the decline of cod, a key predator. Also, with 3 million lobster pots in the water, Maine fishermen are simply feeding young lobsters.

The lobster die-offs and diseases aren't inconsequential and they're not isolated. Lord summarized the sentiment at the symposium: These are "problems that seem to be changing entire ecosystems."

(Thanks to Sandy Pardes of the Connecticut Fishing and Connecticut Fishing Report blogs for the heads up on this story.)

Fishers Island Ferry Sewage Investigation Lingers for a Year

Speaking of boats dumping sewage, I had complained the other day because Connecticut has taken 10 weeks to investigate a 12-million-gallon sewage spill in New Haven. Further east, the Coast Guard has been investigating a spill for a year and still hasn't figured out what's going on.

Much to the embarassment of Fishers Island residents, a year ago the Fishers Island Ferry was found to be opening its valves so that sewage went directly into the Thames River and the Sound. It seemed like a clear cut case but for reasons that no one is explaining, it still hasn't been solved.

The good news, according to the New London Day, is that there's no reason to open those valves again:

This spring, the ferry passengers and staff began using a new waiting room and offices at an expanded New London terminal, a project paid for with $6 million in federal grants and $3 million in ferry district funds. The project included underground pipes and pumps enabling sewage from ferry toilets to be discharged directly into the New London treatment plant instead of having to be pumped out periodically by trucks.

No-Discharge Zone Proposed for Huge Area of the Sound

EPA is proposing that a big area of Connecticut's portion of Long Island Sound -- from Branford west to the New York border -- be designated a no discharge zone for boats.

AP reported:

The designation would also include the Quinnipiac River from North Haven and the Housatonic River from Derby Dam in Derby to the coast of Long Island Sound.

According to DEP, eliminating the release of treated and untreated sewage from boats will reduce pollution in swimming areas, shellfish beds and other environmentally sensitive aquatic habitats.

Rick Huntley, the DEP's Clean Vessels Act coordinator, said average recreational vessels can often hold 20 to 50 gallons of sewage on board, while megayachts and commercial vessels hold much more.

It's mind boggling that people in boats would think it's OK to put their sewage into the Sound. The truth is, though, that over the years it has become both more unacceptable among boaters and easier to to avoid because of an increase in pump out stations, including Soundkeeper's free program.

Soundkeeper has four pump out boats that operate from Westport to the Byram River in Greenwich, and in Mamaroneck Harbor (which is also a no discharge zone).

It's a good program and EPA's proposal deserves support.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Water Quality in the Sound

Dissolved oxygen levels throughout the western half of Long Island Sound were in reasonably good shape from July 7 through 12. But as I noted a couple of days ago, readings since then have fallen in the western-most sections.

The information comes from the Connecticut DEP, which sent out its first water quality map of the summer this morning. The map shows that most of the Sound from New Haven to the west had dissolved oxygen concentrations between 3.5 and 4.8 milligrams per liter (shown in green).

(In terms of dissolved, the Sound east of New Haven is essentially a different body of water -- the Sound is wide, has an open connection to the ocean, and gets a huge amount of water from the Connecticut river, all of which tend to keep dissolved oxygen concentrations high.)

The furthest western reaches – the narrows, where hypoxia has traditionally been the worst – had readings between 3 and 3.5 milligrams per liter (shown in yellow).

In an e-mail this morning, Matthew Lyman, of the DEP, explained the readings this way:

DOs were up in the narrows largely due to the remnants of tropical storm Cindy and a lot of east wind on Friday. The latest buoy reading is showing DOs back down below 2.0 mg/L at the western most stations. We will be back out next week.

Oxygen is as important to creatures who live in the water as it is to those of us who live on land. Here’s what the Long Island Sound Study’s website says:

To date, research shows that the most severe effects (such as mortality) occur when dissolved oxygen levels fall below 1.5 mg/l at any time and below 3.5 mg/l in the short-term (i.e., 4 days), but that there are probably mild effects of hypoxia when dissolved oxygen levels fall below 5 mg/l. The levels regularly observed in the Sound during late summer:
-- Reduce the abundance and diversity of adult finfish;
-- Reduce the growth rate of newly-settled lobsters and perhaps juvenile winter flounder;
-- Can kill species that cannot move or move slowly, such as lobsters caught in pots and starfish, and early life stages of species such as bay anchovy, menhaden, cunner, tautog, and sea robin;
-- May reduce the resistance to disease of lobsters and other species; and
-- Diminish the habitat value of Long Island Sound.

The Long Island Sound Study has set interim goals for dissolved oxygen:

-- Maintain existing dissolved oxygen levels in waters that currently meet state standards;
-- Increase dissolved oxygen levels to meet standards in those areas below the state standards but above 3.5 mg/l; and,
-- Increase short-term average dissolved oxygen levels to 3.5 mg/l in those areas currently below 3.5 mg/l, ensuring that dissolved oxygen never goes below 1.5 mg/l at any time.

Obviously, higher readings are better, but it’s hard to say what the current readings predict. The past two summers, DO concentrations have been good right up until mid-August, when they dropped precipitously.

You can see previous water quality maps by clicking on the DEP Hypoxia Maps link to the right.

I think it speaks well of the DEP, by the way, that it makes these maps available so quickly, and I thank Matthew Lyman for including me on his e-mail list.


Is Long Island Sound’s lobster population rebounding? This editorial, from the Connecticut Post, asserts that it might be:

Lobstermen are working the waters once again in greater numbers and they report they are finding more keeper-sized lobsters in their traps.

In addition, the lobstermen say their traps are filling once again with nuisance spider crabs, a species very sensitive to low oxygen levels in the water. Such crabs had all but disappeared from Sound waters right before the lobster die-off.

Another encouraging sign is that lobster fishing equipment sales have steadily rebounded.

No indication, however, what the source of this information is. One discouraging note is that the editorial says the big lobster die-off occurred in 1998. Dead lobsters were indeed reported from the far western part of the Sound late in the ’98 season, but the big die-off was in 1999, the year of Tropical Storm Floyd. Click the Long Island Sound Study link to the right for information about the die-off and its causes.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Wilson's Storm-Petrels

The Wilson's storm-petrels that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago are still in Long Island Sound. In fact, 40 or more were seen the other day.

Here's a good look at some of them, in a picture taken by a birder named Larry Flynn. Patrick Comins sent it to me. Thanks to Patrick, and especially to Larry for letting me us it.

Connecticut's Investigation of the New Haven Sewage Spill is at 75 Days and Counting

It’s been 75 days since New Haven’s sewage plant spilled 12 million gallons of sewage into Long Island Sound, and 70 days since Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal issued a statement saying the state was actively investigating the cause.

Here’s what Blumenthal said in an e-mail statement back in early May:

The sewage spill in the Morris Cove neighborhood of New Haven on April 30 is a very serious and urgent concern. I understand that DEP is continuing its active investigation. This factual investigation should provide a full understanding of the cause, nature and extent of the spill. We then will determine, in cooperation with DEP, what legal action under the water pollution laws may be appropriate. I am strongly committed to the protection of Long Island Sound from all encroachments and damage, whether from sewage or unnecessary and inappropriate utility projects. Long Island Sound is a precious and irreplaceable resource, and I will continue to fight to protect it.

I guess I didn’t realize an investigation of a sewage spill would take so long. Has anybody been questioned? Have any documents been reviewed? Has any assessment been done of the damages to natural resources? Has Blumenthal consulted with the DEP yet on possible legal action? Has anyone from the state even put in a call to the people who run the New Haven plant?

If anyone knows the answers to these questions, feel free to drop me a line.

If You Don't Want These, How About Box Seats for the Yankees?

Admission to some beaches on Long Island Sound is a hotter ticket than you thought.

Clinton, Connecticut, Wants to Study Increasing Access to Sound; Neighbors Object

The problem with increasing public access to Long Island Sound is that everyone is in favor of it except the people who live near new public access locations.

In Clinton, Connecticut, the town is studying whether some narrow strips of land can be used by the public to reach not the beach (because it's privately owned) but the water below the mean high tide mark (which we all own). Neighbors are incensed, according to the New Haven Register, and apparently would prefer it if the study went no further.

I've been to Clinton but I don't know the specific area. But public access doesn't necessarily mean a new Hammonasset or even a new town beach. In this case particularly the road that leads to these strips of land is apparently not conducive to lots of traffic, which would keep the crowds down; and I wonder how many people are going to flock to the shore so they can use the beach below the high tide line anyway. Some fishermen, beachcombers, an occasional birdwatcher maybe. But not many more, I would guess. And small areas of public access can do a lot of good.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Dissolved Oxygen Levels are Low off New Rochelle

Dissolved oxygen levels in the bottom waters (54 feet deep) near Execution Rocks are at 1.6 milligrams per liter this morning, which is very low.

In 2003 and 2004, DO concentrations didn’t drop that low until mid- to late-August, but then they dropped even lower, to below 1 milligram per liter. In 2002, concentrations dropped below 2 in late July and then were bad throughout August. In 2001, concentration didn’t go below 2 until mid to late August and never went lower. Here are the Connecticut DEP's hypoxia maps.

Execution Rocks, off New Rochelle, is just one dot on the map. A bit further east, about three miles off Greenwich, DO concentrations are 4.1 milligrams per liter, which is fine. DEP should be posting its hypoxia maps soon, which will tell us if the Execution Rocks reading is an isolated low spot or if a general hypoxia is settling in.

Dissolved oxygen concentrations fall every summer. With the Long Island Sound cleanup well under way, the annual questions are: how low will they fall and how big of an area will be affected. There have been no catastrophic fish kills on the Sound since the late 1980s but the last two or three summers have been surprisingly bad in terms of water quality and temporary habitat loss. What will happen this summer, obviously, remains to be seen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Sewage Spill Closes Popular Clamming Spot on Block Island

On Block Island, a sewage catch basin overflowed and spilled sewage into the Great Salt Pond, which is usually open for clamming by the public. The same thing happened two years ago. Here's what the Block Island Times reported:

.. a combination of factors were working together to produce a small disaster at Negus Park. Tree roots had grown down into the catch basin underneath the park, said Sewer Commission Chair Cliff McGinnes, since the basin was last serviced two years ago. All the sewage from New Harbor, including boat pump-out effluence, siphons through the system there.

So it happened two years ago and it hasn't been serviced since then. One would think they might consider servicing it annually from now on.

New Links

I've added the four new sites that I wrote about earlier to the links on the right: three about fishing in the Sound, and the Long Island Sound Resource Center.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Long Island Sound Resource Center

When I needed to know the basic geology of Long Island Sound for my book, I went to Ralph Lewis, the Connecticut State Geologist (now retired), who I had heard speak at a Long Island Sound Taskforce conference in Milford back in 1985 or '86. I dropped in to see him unannounced at his office UConn/Avery Point, and he sent me off with geological maps and publications; and when I was hurrying to get my manuscript ready and needed help, he read sections and directed me to more information on line.

The Long Island Sound Resource Center is a website that he helped set up a number of years ago, and it's just been updated. Here's what it says:

This web site is an ongoing project to provide access to data and information. Visitors can search the bibliography of the Long Island Sound Foundation Collection; browse the directory of organizations and information sources; or look for a location to access the Sound. This web site will continue to grow and change as new features, data, and information are added.

Six organizations are listed as partners and supporters, including the DEP and UConn. It's well worth spending some time clicking around on, especially if you're into geology.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Where the Fish Are

I don't fish, and unless you fish it's hard to know anything about what goes on under the surface of the water. When I was a reporter, and when I was researching my book, I spent hours and hours on boats, in marinas, on docks, and on beaches trying to get fishermen to tell me about what they were catching.

Last weekend I came upon three blogs devoted to fishing in Long Island Sound and Connecticut: Connecticut Fishing Reports, Connecticut Fishing, and Fishing Reports (one wonders if the similarity in names says anything about the verbal imagination of fishermen who take up writing). They're all interesting and I check in with them regularly.

By the way, I found them through a new blog called Connecticut Weblogs, which tracks and links to blogs about Connecticut. If you live in Connecticut you might find it worthwhile.

Is the Eastern Oyster Endangered?

The National Marine Fisheries Service is looking into whether the eastern oyster should be listed as an endangered species. This seems odd to me, given that oystering is almost like farming (in fact, it's called aquaculture, and in the Connecticut state bureaucracy, the aquaculture division is in the Department of Agriculture). This story, from Newsday, explains what's going on.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

How's the Water in Oyster Bay?

The Friends of the Bay newsletter arrived by e-mail while I was away. It's excellent. Among other things, it includes this "How's the Water" column, written by Pat Aitken, the FOB water quality monitoring coordinator.

Monday, July 04, 2005

To the Beach, to the Mountains

One and a half million people go to the beach at Hammonasset State Park every summer, and another 400,000 visit Rocky Neck State park. Twenty years ago it was estimated that all the beaches on Long Island Sound -- on Long Island's north shore and Orchard Beach in the Bronx and Glen Island and Playland in Westchester and the municipal beaches in Greenwich and Stamford and Norwalk and West Haven -- drew about 60 million swimmers each year.

The staff of Sphere is off for a few days, but to the mountains not the beach. For those who want to keep up with the news, check Atlantic Coast Watch, which posts links to news stories from coastal area newspapers. The link is on the right; ACW puts its links up in early afternoon. Sphere will resume it's regularly scheduled posting in about a week.

Monk Parakeets

I took these photos of a monk parakeet nest in April (you can barely see the birds on the wire), while driving the wrong way down a one-way street in West Haven.

monk parakeet nest 4.05

The Connecticut DEP estimates that more than 1,000 monk parakeets live in the state. Most of the birds nest in towns along the Sound. But some are moving inland.

Monk parakeet nest 2, 4.05

The utility companies think they're a pain in the neck but people who live near the nests seem to like them. I side with the people.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Common Eiders Are Nesting on the Sound, a First for New York

A couple of pairs of common eiders are nesting near Fishers Island this year, and it apparently marks the first time the birds have been recorded nesting either on the Sound** or in New York State.

Earlier today Patrick Comins, of Audubon Connecticut, sent an e-mail to a number of bird experts (with a copy to me), that said this:

Penni Sharp, one of our Science and Bird Conservation Committee members was at Fisher's Island doing some field work in June and she and another observer noted two pairs of Common Eiders, along with some downy young. I thought this was a significant nesting record for Long Island Sound and that it should be brought to someone's attention. Not sure if they have ever been recorded as nesting in New York (my NY book is at home), but I thought it could represent a record of a new breeding species for the state.

It seems like he's right. Common eiders are not in the 1988 edition of The Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State (by Andrle and Carroll), but this map, from the current update of the atlas, shows that atlas workers found them on Fishers Island in March of this year. I haven't been able to find anything online about common eiders in Rhode Island, which might give an idea if they've been moving south, in the way that chuck-wills-widows have been moving north, but I'm pretty sure I saw common eiders in 1997 on Block Island, swimming among the rocks off Clay Head (though I have no idea if they were nesting).

The Birder's Handbook (by Ehrlich, Dobkin & Wheye) says common eiders nest on the "Shore of ponds and lagoons with outlet to rocky seacoast." Birds of the New York Area (by Bull in 1964) says they are a "Holarctic species ... breeding along the coast south to southwestern Maine" (holarctic, as far as I can tell, means the northern hemisphere north of the tropics).

With Wilson's storm-petrels and chuck-wills-widows here too, it makes for an interesting bird season on the Sound. Now if only my fish sources were as good as my bird sources...

** Maybe not. Min T. Huang, the migratory game bird leader for the Connecticut DEP, said this in an e-mail on July 2:

...we have had reports of these birds for the past couple of years. Last year, I believe, there were 4 young and about 20 adults in July.

Two-Day Meeting in Port Jeff Will Provide Update on All Parts of LI Sound Program

If you’re wondering what exactly is going on in Long Island Sound, at least from the perspective of government managers, there’s a two-day meeting later this month in Port Jefferson where you can find out. EPA’s Long Island Sound program is bringing people together to talk about nutrients and hypoxia, fish and wildlife habitats and how they’ve changed, changes in land use and population in the Sound’s watershed, and populations of fish and birds and animals such as seals, among other things.

The Long Island Sound study, which later became the Sound program, officially started in the summer of 1985, so this will essentially be a 20-year update.

Mark Tedesco, who runs the Sound program, told me that the meeting is mainly to get the program’s management committee and staff together so people working in different areas and on different problems can listen and talk to one another. But management committee meetings have always been open to the public (admirably and understandably, in my opinion) and this one is too.

It will be from 9:30 a.m. until 5:45 p.m. on July 20 and from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on July 21, at Danfords Inn, in Port Jefferson. I’m sure much of it will be dry and technical, and there will be far too many hard-to-follow Power Point presentations, but if you’re interested in what the establishment thinks is going on in the Sound, it will be essential.

I might try to get out there myself for one of the two days, to see how comfortably I slip back into the role of reporter, and become the first blogger to cover a Sound event.

Keep Off Charles & Duck Islands

As of today, you won't be able to get onto Charles Island in Milford or Duck Island in Westbrook legally until September 9. The Connecticut DEP has shut down access to the islands to protect nesting snowy egrets, great egrets, glossy ibis and little blue herons. The DEP press release says:

"Despite all of the educational and protective efforts provided for the 2005 season, human disturbance continues to jeopardize the continued existence of rookeries at Duck and Charles Islands," said Jenny Dickson, a DEP Wildlife Division biologist. "At Charles Island, the birds have already shifted away from their preferred nesting site and are frequently displaying alarm behavior."

And here's more from the New Haven Register.

Speaking of nesting birds and human disturbance, I heard from Miley Bull of Connecticut Audubon yesterday regarding this post about Sandy Point, in West Haven.

I had summarized a study of Sandy Point's least terns by saying that researcher Jennifer Healey has found that common terns and birdwatchers had caused the most disturbance to the least terns. Miley wrote:

It was noted that birders caused the most disturbances (in frequency), but had little effect on the birds themselves, ie. the birds settled quickly back on the nests. This is opposed to other disturbances, like dogs, that seem to have a more lasting effect (the birds stayed off their nests longer).

Planting Oysters in the Sound off Greenwich

Someone in Greenwich is planting millions of oyster spat in hopes of reestablishing the population, which has been wiped out by two diseases, dermo and MSX. This Greenwich Time story describes what's going on but leaves unanswered the basic question of who's doing the work. A volunteer? The town's shellfish commission? A company from Brookhaven?

Despite that omission, there's some interesting stuff in the story, such as this:

To aid the process, Atlantic Clam Farms, based in Brookhaven, L.I., harvested an estimated 1 million large quahog clams from the area to prevent them from crowding out the developing oysters. The large clams, some of which weigh more than a pound and a half, siphon in oyster eggs and other plant matter that the developing oysters need, Jinishian said.

Those clams are sold to environmental organizations that move them to Great South Bay to help eat algae that cause environmental problems there, and to Peconic Bay near Shelter Island, where it is hoped they will breed, said Ed Stillwagon, co-owner of Atlantic Clam Farms.

Everything is connected to everything else.

Feds Announce Decisions on Two New England LNG Proposals

For those keeping an eye on the proposal by Shell and TransCanada to put a liquefied natural gas plant in the middle of Long Island Sound (it goes by the Orwellian name of Broadwater), the feds announced decisions yesterday on two other proposals, one in Providence (rejected), the other in Fall River, Massachusetts (approved).
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