Monday, June 12, 2006

Connecticut Legislature to Long Island Sound: Drop Dead

The Connecticut State Legislature managed to finish its session without bothering to approve $50 million in bonding for the Long Island Sound cleanup and other clean water projects. I don’t live in Connecticut any longer, but it pisses me off anyway; and if I did live in Connecticut, I’d also be embarrassed.

In this piece, published in the Hartford Courtant, Leah Schmalz of Save the Sound and Lori Brown of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, explain why the bonding is important and also call for a special session of the Legislature to rectify the neglect.

Whether they do or don’t, it’s clear the Long Island Sound and clean water in general have become a low priority in Connecticut.

It also seems as if the environmental groups – Connecticut Fund for the Environment, League of Conservation Voters, Audubon Connecticut, and even Soundkeeper (I use the word “even” because Terry Backer, the Soundkeeper, represents Stratford in the State House) – are viewed as little more than special interests, with no broad grassroots support. Politicians can therefore ignore them with impunity.

And to say that the press coverage of the issue has been sporadic would be to wildly exaggerate its consistency.

But I don’t mean to blame the environmental groups or the press. The fault lies with Connecticut’s irresponsible politicians. They are the ones who in recent years took money out of the Clean Water Fund and used it for other purposes. (There’s lots of information about this in the archives for Novemer, December, and January.)

Keep in mind that House Speaker James Amann of Milford made no apologies about not funding the Sound cleanup. His reasoning? Sewage treatment plants are not sexy.

And Greenwich’s legislators, to single out one contingent, were not even aware that they themselves had cut funding for clean water projects.

The whole thing reminds me of the 1970s, when Abe Beame was looking for the federal government to bail out New York City. When President Ford said no, the Daily News headline was: Ford to City: Drop Dead.

The headline now should be:

Connecticut Legislature to Long Island Sound: Drop Dead.


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