Monday, July 02, 2007

The New London Day Advocates Like No Other Paper for Long Island Sound

Of all the newspapers in all the communities on the coast of Long Island Sound, the furthest away from the western end, where seriously low levels of dissolved oxygen have caused an ecological crisis for well over two decades, is the New London Day. New Lodnon is almost 100 miles from the heart of the dead zone. And yet The Day is covering the Sound’s most important issue, and advocating for a comprehensive cleanup – to include the federal government, the state governments, local governments, and residents of New York and Connecticut – like no other paper.

The Day asked Greg Stone, who retired as deputy editorial page editor a couple of months ago, to organized a public forum about the Sound’s hypoxia problem (it was on June 19 and was The Day’s third forum on Sound issues this year; I participated in one in early April, on Broadwater, but I would have happily given up that one for the June 19 forum, alas). Greg wrote a good account of it yesterday, here.

Then read the case that Leah Schmalz, of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, makes in favor of the Connecticut General Assembly and Governor Rell putting enough money in the Clean Water Fund, which thus far this year they have neglected to do yet again, here.

And finally an editorial. Some excerpts follow, but you should read the whole thing, here:

Connecticut needs to build and maintain a healthy Clean Water Fund, which helps finance improvements to the sewer works in the Sound's watershed. The state Department of Environmental Protection has calculated it would require about $160 million a year merely to keep up with approved projects, not to mention the totality of the $5 billion in needed improvements.

Congress needs to step up to the plate again. The federal government, which invested heavily in the original public sewage systems, has left the expense of maintaining and improving those facilities to state and local governments, as it has with other important public investments. The health of Long Island Sound is a responsibility the federal government shares. Washington needs to become a significant investor again. The state legislatures in New York and Connecticut must urge that it do so….

With investment funds in the pipeline, government should turn its attention to land-use planning that will protect the Sound from damage from pollution. Connecticut needs to revisit its coastal management law and develop a more comprehensive plan to protect the Long Island Sound watershed….

The mere fact that the federal and state governments refer to a “dead zone” the size of southeastern Connecticut in Long Island Sound ought to drive public policy and public opinion in such directions.

The reality that there is such an expanse of water that has lost its capacity to support life and that the cause is likely manmade is another way of saying man is killing the Sound through carelessness and bad choices. But there is an alternative. It is not too late. People can take steps to restore this natural treasure to health and keep it healthy through enthusiastic stewardship.

They should.

The should, indeed. And other newspapers should take a lesson from the New London Day.

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