Category Archives: Environment

Cut taxes for “green” cars?

What does everyone think of the idea of dropping car taxes for all vehicles in town that get more than 40 miles to the gallon? It’s at least an interesting idea, right?



Filed under Environment, global warming, Property taxes

Put the elms back in Elmwood

I know the town doesn’t have any money. I know people want to spend, well, nothing.

But here’s a program that we can still somehow do together: Put the elms back in Elmwood.

Since Dutch Elm Disease wiped out 100 million American Elm trees during the 20th century, including most of the tree-lined streets in our cities, the trees are hard to find. But that’s changing thanks to disease-resistant varieties that are on the market now.

USA Today, for example, recently had a story about the return of the elm tree. Even Home Depot is selling the new version of the famous old trees.

It’s time that we jump on the bandwagon in this town and start planting trees again, beginning with new elms in Elmwood.

Not long ago, Rick Liftig posted in one thread here that the “Elmwood Business Association will be sponsoring an elm planting program over the next several months. We will be starting with a small project and hope that things will ‘blossom’ from there. Despite the elm tree moniker, the program is meant to be a town-wide (and likely species diverse) effort that will hopefully continue for many years.”

That’s terrific news, which the Courant oddly hasn’t jumped on yet.

But it doesn’t need to be “a small project” that one business group is sponsoring. This should be a townwide initiative that aims in the long run to plant more trees everywhere to make sure West Hartford in 50 or 100 years looks better than it does today, with giant, native trees dotting the landscape.

Perhaps the town could buy elms in bulk and sell them at discounted rates to residents who promise to plant them in West Hartford. Or perhaps a tree tax break is possible somehow. Or maybe we could just get a fund going to buy the trees and give them away in areas that most need more trees. I’m fuzzy on the details, only certain that the idea has merit.

Liftig wrote on a comment on this blog that “informal discussions have shown us that the Town is very interested in pursuing these avenues by partnering with the communities and community organizations.” That means there’s already something afoot. I just hope it’s not stamped under foot by the budget debacle.

Tree planting programs are catching on all over. But let’s be a leader in this and make West Hartford even more green. And let’s start by bringing the elms back to Elmwood.

 Elm-lined street in Washington, DV


Filed under American Elm, elm, elms, Elmwood, Environment, trees

Larson to take global warming junket



WASHINGTON- Today, Congressman John B. Larson announced that he is participating in a bipartisan Congressional Delegation trip to Greenland, Germany, Great Britain and Belgium to meet with leading scientists and political leaders working on solutions to combat global warming lead by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.   Earlier this year Larson was appointed by Pelosi to serve on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. 

“Global warming and energy dependence are probably two of the most important issues facing the future of our planet,” said Larson.  “This is a unique opportunity to see the global impacts of global warming and meet with global leaders that are addressing global warming in effective and innovative ways. This issue has been ignored for far too long and now it is time for serious solutions and action and I am proud to be a part.”

Congress is drafting wide-ranging legislation on energy independence by July 4 and global warming later this year. Pelosi also created the Select Committee Energy Independence and Global Warming to promote greater understanding of the problem. 

The Congressional Delegation is made up of other members of the Select Committee, including Chairman Ed Markey of Massachusetts; Congresswoman Hilda Solis of California ; Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin of South Dakota; Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon; and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri.  Congressman David Hobson of Ohio, Ranking member of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee is also traveling.

The bipartisan delegation will be traveling to Greenland and is scheduled to meet with Dr. Konrad Steffen, who is the lead scientist at Swiss Camp located on the Jakobshavn Glacier.  In Europe, the delegation is scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, foreign and environmental ministers, members of parliament and leading environmentalists and scientists.

Because of the significance of this trip, the air travel will be carbon offset through the Pacific Forest Trust – a forest conservation and stewardship project that will permanently reduce approximately 500,000 tons of CO2 emissions over a 100-year period.  The Speaker will personally pay for this effort.


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Filed under Congress, Environment, global warming, John Larson, Nancy Pelosi, News

Corporate polluter: The Hartford Courant

I felt sick this morning to find that the oh-so-sanctimonious Hartford Courant had seen fit to seal a square of plastic across a portion of its front page in order to attach yet another annoying ad, this time for a Berlin “active adult” development. Much as I hate front page ads like this — it sure proves how desperate newspapers are to make money — today’s is a new low. In recent months, they’ve put Post-It note ads, which are at least removeable, though still ridiculous.

But by sealing a piece of plastic onto the front page, they have effectively turned a paper that can be recycled safely and efficiently into one that harms the environment. It is short-sighted and the move of an awful corporate citizen to attach permanently these plastic squares to a newspaper. It’s an environmental travesty, a screw-you to every subscriber who cares about our planet.

I hope that every municipality and green group in Connecticut will speak out against this change before it becomes accepted practice.

Perhaps the Courant’s publisher might want to read its editorials sometimes. Live up to your own ideals, Courant, or the shut the hell up.


Filed under Courant, Environment, Hartford Courant, Newspapers, recycling

Children’s Museum gets new director

An Andover resident has been appointed interim director of The Children’s Museum in West Hartford.

AOT 2007

Hank Gruner of Andover was named to the post on Friday following the recent retirement of Edward J. Forand Jr., who was the museum’s president and chief executive officer, a news release said.
Gruner has been with the museum, formerly known as the Science Center of Connecticut, since 1984. He most recently served as vice president of programs and exhibits and had the responsibility for leading the museum’s future planning efforts, the release said.
“Hank Gruner is the heart and soul of the museum, with many years of experience in museum management and programming,” said Howard Shafer, museum board chairman. “We are fortunate to have a professional of his caliber on staff to continue the ongoing operations of The Children’s Museum.”
Along with Gruner’s leadership skills and the talented expertise of the staff, the museum is in a strong position to move forward, Shafter said.
He also said that the museum is commencing a search for a new executive director.
Gruner is a renowned Connecticut biologist and has more than 20 years of experience as a herpetologist conducting field research and working with local, state, and regional planning agencies on the conservation of amphibians and reptiles.
Gruner serves as the biodiversity coordinator for Connecticut programs under the auspices of the Wildlife Conservation Society. He also serves as coordinator for the statewide Connecticut Amphibian Monitoring Project.
Gruner has been recognized by the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Connecticut chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and the Garden Club of America for his contributions to conservation and education.
He received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Connecticut.

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Filed under Children's Museum, education, Edward Forand, Elmwood, Environment, Hank Gruner, museums, West Hartford

A bunny dies in West Hartford

Take a look at this blog entry to see why wild animals in our town may be fighting back, if the turkeys are any indication.


Filed under Environment, rabbit, West Hartford, wildlife

Fleischmann says no to pesticides

It’s kind of funny that Rep. Andy Fleischmann, a West Hartford Democrat, is a leader in the push to keep pesticides off school playing fields.

I mean, you can barely drive down any residential street in town from May to October without running into a truck pumping chemicals onto yet another tiny West Hartford lawn.

Apparently, we want our kids to be safe from pesticides on the schoolyard because they get plenty of the stuff at home and we don’t want to push it too far, or those grandkids we hope for someday will look Ralph Wiggum on “The Simpsons.”

One of the bills that sailed through Fleischmann’s Education Committee extends a ban on using pesticides that already exists for elementary schools. Middle schools would be covered, too.

Another bill would include high schools as well.

“Children who play sports and games on school fields should not have to deal with exposure to toxic pesticides and herbicides,” Fleischmann told reporters.

Personally, I hate all this toxic crud that gets sprayed all over everyone’s lawns. I’d be fine with banning its use everywhere except in limited cases to protect public health. But I’m kind of a nut that way.

But it’s still amusing to see a West Hartford lawmaker out front on this, because there’s a lot of green involved in spreading chemicals on our  yards here.


Filed under Andrew Fleischmann, Environment, lawns, pesticides