CIRCA in the News
HARTFORD - On Earth Day on Wednesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed an executive order creating a new council to keep Connecticut on pace with its long-term greenhouse gas emissions goals.
In 2008, Connecticut adopted the Global Warming Solutions Act, committing the state to reduce greenhouse gas emission 10 percent by 2020 and then 80 percent by 2050. Malloy said the state is ahead of its 2020 target.
The newly established Council on Climate Change will be made up of 15 members to recommend policies, regulations, and legislative actions that help the state achieve its 2050 target. The council will make its first report in January and then biannually thereafter.
The membership will include the commissioners of the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, Department of Economic & Community Development, Department of Transportation, Department of Administrative Services, Insurance Department, Department of Housing, and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority; the secretary of the Office of Policy & Management; the CEO of the Connecticut Green Bank; the executive director of the Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation; Don Strait, president of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment; Lynn Stoddard, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University; John Humphries of the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate & Jobs; and two representatives from business and industry.
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GUILFORD >> The Planning and Zoning Commission is looking to build the future of the town with one of the town's most important documents, and is seeking input from the public.
The commission currently is preparing to update its Plan of Conservation and Development, and a public hearing on the plan will take place at the Community Center at 7:30 p.m. May 27.
With the Plan of Conservation and Development last updated in 2002, the new plan will focus on the "big picture," using information provided in previous plans to help identify new trends to prepare for the town's future.
Town Planner George Kral said the "big picture" is the entire town and its general principles, instead of specific areas.
The 2015 plan will incorporate findings from the Route 1 West study as well as the newly approved Coastal Resilience plan.
The commission last month approved the Community Coastal Resilience Plan, which provides a framework to guide town officials as they make decisions about coastal adaptation projects, capital improvements, land use and development projects and building regulation.
Fairfield - Carolyn Kamlet's 1950s tidy, yellow, cottage-like home, a block or so from Long Island Sound here, sits poised for summer with a pair of folded beach chairs on the front porch.
But those chairs might not be used anytime soon. Kamlet and her husband plan to elevate their house by about six feet, beginning in the next month or so.
"We bought the house in July 2011," Kamlet said from her warm, appropriately pale sea green dining area. "So we went through Irene the first year and Sandy the second year."
Sandy filled the crawl space with water up to the bottom of the first floor destroying the furnace, hot water heater, air conditioner and washer and dryer. Even with the decontamination needed, the damage was far less than the 50 percent threshold that would have required the house to be elevated.
The availability of a grant and loans to pay the more than $170,000 it will cost to lift the house, and the prospect of peace of mind, were factors in their decision to elevate anyway.
"The hurricane season is coming, and we don't ever want to live through that again," she said.
But increases in flood insurance premiums, which were $1,700 a year when they bought the house and $2,300 as of last July's bill, helped seal the Kamlets decision.
MERIDEN - Now that the snow is gone and work is ramping up, it's getting easier to envision the downtown Meriden Hub as a 14-acre park with a flowing Harbor Brook and soaring pedestrian bridge.
"It's really getting cool to see," said Robert Bass, the city's public works director.
Work was delayed because of winter weather, though Bass said he expects the downtown park to be usable by the end of the year.
"Some of the plantings might have to wait until the next planting season, but otherwise the bulk of it should be done," he said. "I think this is going to be the draw we need downtown."
The former commercial-industrial site between State and Pratt streets is being turned into a park as part of a larger flood control project. The $14 million cost is mostly being paid for with state funds.
NORWALK - The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has granted the flood exemption needed to rebuild Washington Village in its current location in South Norwalk.
"The applicant Connecticut Department of Housing has demonstrated that the redevelopment of the Washington Village housing complex in Norwalk is in the public interest and will not injure persons or damage property in the area," read the decision signed by DEEP Hearing Officer Janice B. Deshais. "This proposed activity also complies with the provisions of the National Flood Insurance Program and the recipient of the grant has been informed that increased flood insurance premiums may result from the activity.
"The application is therefore approved and the exemption from a certification requirement for floodplain management set out in (state law) is granted to the Connecticut Department of Housing," Deshais continued.
April 23, 2015 - Governors' energy conference yields more talk, Hartford Business
After a summit of the five New England governors on Thursday in Hartford, they all agreed to further collaborate on the region's energy issues but did not commit to any infrastructure projects or policy changes.
"Together and respecting the bounds of individual state laws, we plan to continue to work to seek out economically beneficial infrastructure solutions to New England's power system challenges," the governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and Vermont said in the joint statement.
The summit came after a morning conference organized by Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy where regional power grid administrator ISO New England warned the six states that they are becoming increasingly reliant on natural gas for both electricity and heating, while the pipelines supplying natural gas fuel to the region are becoming increasingly constrained, which causes wholesale power prices to rise.
The Malloy administration picked Wednesday, Earth Day, to reboot a coordinated campaign against climate change that had been dormant since the state completed a report on the subject four years ago. While the state is on pace to reach its next emissions target, Connecticut is without a roadmap to accomplish the ambitious, and statutorily mandated, goal of reducing greenhouse gases to 80 percent of 2001 levels by 2050.
"It is going to be a big task." Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Wednesday, steps from the swelling Connecticut River, after signing an executive order "recommitting" the state to the global challenge of climate change by seating a Governor's Council on Climate Change.
The council will set interim goals and recommend carbon-cutting policies. Its goal is for Connecticut to average 2 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in each of the next 35 years. Robert Klee, commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, who will chair the council, said there is a "moral imperative" to meet the goals Connecticut enacted with the 2008 adoption of the Global Warming Solutions Act.
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - America's oldest city is slowly drowning. St. Augustine's centuries-old Spanish fortress sits feet from the encroaching Atlantic, whose waters already flood the city's narrow streets about 10 times a year - a problem worsening as sea levels rise. The city relies on tourism, but visitors might someday have to wear waders at high tide.
"If you want to benefit from the fact we've been here for 450 years, you have the responsibility to look forward to the next 450," said Bill Hamilton, whose family has lived in the city since the 1950s. "Is St. Augustine even going to be here? We owe it to the people coming after us to leave the city in good shape."
St. Augustine is one of many chronically flooded communities along Florida's coast, and officials in these diverse places share a concern: They're afraid their buildings and economies will be further inundated by rising seas in just a couple of decades. The effects are a daily reality in much of Florida. Drinking water wells are fouled by seawater. Higher tides and storm surges make for more frequent road flooding from Jacksonville to Key West, and they're overburdening aging flood-control systems.
But the state has yet to offer a clear plan or coordination to address what local officials across Florida's coast see as a slow-moving emergency. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is skeptical of man-made climate change and has put aside the task of preparing for sea level rise, an Associated Press review of thousands of emails and documents pertaining to the state's preparations for rising seas found.
Thomas Malone does not believe there is a solution to the problem of climate change. He thinks there are lots of solutions - and he has set out to find them. Malone is founder and head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Climate CoLab, an online community that is attempting to use crowdsourcing to tackle one of the thorniest and most complex problems facing the planet.
"It is a problem in which we all have some sort of stake," Malone said. "It is not a problem where one person or one organization can solve the problem alone." ...
Climate CoLab's crowdsourcing project approaches its daunting challenge by first breaking the issue of climate change into dozens of smaller questions: How can we reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation? How can we shift public attitudes toward climate change? How can we increase urban energy efficiency?
Goldman Sachs was onto something.
Right before Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, the venerable investment bank had a novel idea: it barricaded the doors of its downtown Manhattan headquarters with sandbags. After the storm -- when much of Lower Manhattan was flooded and powerless but Goldman was dry and lit up like a Christmas tree -- many New Yorkers had a simple question: Why didn't more places do this?
Soon other businesses will be able to follow Goldman's lead, and they'll have something even better than sandbags.
Last week, Florida-based Architecture Metals was one of 11 companies to win $30 million in federal funding. The money is designed to help New York's small businesses prepare for the next storm. The company's new product, called SPS Flood Panel, is like a high-tech sand bag.
The Flood Panel is basically a waterproof metal gate that goes around a building -- or over specific parts like a door -- to keep out flood waters. The gate is made of modular panels, each a foot high, an inch think and custom cut for length. The panels slide into metal mounts on or near the building. Rubber is used to create a seal between the panels. Although most gates are between one and six feet high, the panels can be stacked to create a barrier up to 19 feet.
A new Federal Emergency Management Agency policy requiring states to address climate change before they can become eligible for grant funding is drawing fire from congressional Republicans. The regulations, part of a FEMA State Mitigation Plan Review Guide issued last month, are not set to take effect until next March. But lawmakers are demanding an explanation for the rules now.
In a letter to FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, the lawmakers said they're concerned that the agency's decision will create unnecessary red tape in the disaster preparedness process. "As you know, disaster mitigation grants are awarded to state and local governments after a presidential major disaster declaration," they wrote. "These funds are crucial in helping disaster-stricken communities prepare for future emergencies."
The letter was signed by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), David Vitter (R-La.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.).
In the revised guide, the agency said mitigation planning regulation requires consideration of the probability of future hazards and events to reduce risks and potential dangers.
The White House held a roundtable with investors, transportation officials, policy experts and nonprofits on Tuesday to promote more private company involvement in hardening the United States' infrastructure against the effects of climate change. The event, which was not publicly announced, will feature 90 investors, local and state planning and transportation officials, policy experts, and representatives from nonprofits and the federal government, according to an administration official.
The National Economic Council and the White House Council on Environmental Quality are co-hosting the event with the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. Also expected to attend are National Economic Council Deputy Director Jason Miller, CEQ Managing Director Christy Goldfuss, Harriet Tregoning from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Community Planning and Development, and David Wilkinson of the Domestic Policy Council's Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.
The White House is also releasing a "Federal Guide to Infrastructure Planning and Design," which an administration official said will incorporate programs and opportunities from eight federal agencies and lay out a new set of principles to inform the work of local and state governments, public and private utilities, planners, and other stakeholders around the country. The roundtable is part of President Obama's Build America Investment Initiative.
Rising seas pose significant risks to New Hampshire coastal communities and ecosystems, cultural resources and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, according to new research from the University of New Hampshire. The research also found that climate change-driven health impacts threaten to affect Granite State and New England residents who are vulnerable to rising temperatures, more precipitation and severe weather events.
The findings come from two new reports out of the University of New Hampshire's "Climate Solutions New England (CSNE) - Sea-level Rise, Storm Surges, and Extreme Precipitation in Coastal New Hampshire" and "Climate Change and Human Health in New Hampshire", both of which also provide insight into how society can address these challenges, including a commitment to the reduction of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
"New Hampshire's climate is already changing and having an impact on people's lives," says Cameron Wake, UNH research professor and coauthor of the reports. "It's hotter and wetter, there are more extreme precipitation events, our sea levels are rising and our health is being affected."
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says he wants to fix what went wrong with the process of paying flood insurance claims following Superstorm Sandy.
Craig Fugate told the first meeting of a congressional task force in Washington on Tuesday that the flood program has to be revamped so equal importance is given to paying the full amount of legitimate claims.
"We want to fix this," Fugate said. "If we owe money, we pay. Too often in government we are focused on not making an overpayment, putting more emphasis on not overpaying a claim. I gotta get it right. How do we get to something that's more successful and works better the first time?"
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 28, 2015) -- The Army's chief of engineers said that the Hurricane Sandy operations and maintenance program is more than 70 percent finished and on schedule to be completed by the end of 2016.
In testimony on Capitol Hill before the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, April 22, Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick praised the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers', or USACE's, proficiency in the Sandy recovery work.
Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, from Florida to Maine, with the greatest impact to New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut in October 2012.
"The flood control and coastal emergency program is over 95 percent complete," Bostick said. "And, I'm pleased to highlight that the Army submitted the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study on schedule to Congress and the American people on Jan. 28."
The study, titled "Resilient Adaption to Increasing Risk," aims at reducing risk to vulnerable coastal populations and infrastructure while promoting a robust, resilient and sustainable coastal landscape system through the development of new tools and technology.
The Obama administration on Tuesday laid out an agenda under its Quadrennial Energy Review to modernize the country's energy infrastructure and make it more resilient to challenges ranging from extreme weather to the domestic energy boom.
Commissioned by President Barack Obama when he announced his Climate Action Plan in June 2013, the QER was more than a year in the making and is the administration's first comprehensive attempt to analyze the country's aging energy systems. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country's energy infrastructure a nearly failing D+ grade in its 2013 Infrastructure Report Card.
The report released on Tuesday recommends over $15 billion in new spending programs or tax credits to carry out a major overhaul of the country's energy infrastructure. ... The report said the country's electric grid is at an "inflection point" and needs a major transformation after nearly a century of "relatively stable rules of the road."
June 11, 2015 - West Haven: Ready for Tomorrow Tour Announced!, Register by June 1, 2015, Connecticut Association of Flood Managers, CIRCA and City of West Haven
West Haven: Ready for Tomorrow Tour Announced!
Coastal Connecticut suffered a variety of damage as a result of Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy. In order to promote resiliency and reduce future damages, the City of West Haven has secured grants for resiliency projects and property buyouts. CAFM is partnering with UConn's Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) to offer a walking tour of proposed resiliency projects in West Haven.
Date: June 11, 2015.
Register by June 1, 2015
Registration cost is $10 and includes lunch.
For more information and the registration form, please click here: 2015_06-11 West Haven Resiliency
The Second of a Three Part Series: This workshop is the 2nd in a series of workshops, Living Shorelines II will focus on an integrated approach to living shorelines and review examples of living shorelines installations in CT and other states.
Date: June 24, 2015
Location: UConn Avery Point Campus, Academic Building Rm 106 , UConn Avery Point
1084 Shennecossett Rd. Groton, CT 06340
More information can be found here.
EPA¹s New England Healthy Community Grants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making grants available for New England communities to reduce environmental risks, protect and improve human health and improve the quality of life.
EPA New England¹s Healthy Communities Grant Program is currently accepting initial proposals for projects that will benefit one or more New England communities. EPA plans to award a total of approximately 10-15 cooperative agreements, each up to a maximum of $25,000.
The Healthy Communities Grant Program funds projects that:
- Target resources to benefit communities at risk [areas at risk from climate change impacts, environmental justice areas of potential concern, sensitive populations (e.g. children, elderly, tribes, urban/rural residents, and others at increased risk), and Southeast New England coastal watersheds].
- Assess, understand, and reduce environmental and human health risks.
- Increase collaboration through partnerships and community-based projects.
- Build institutional and community capacity to understand and solve environmental and human health problems.
- Advance emergency preparedness and ecosystem resilience.
- Achieve measurable environmental and human health benefits.
If you have any questions about the grants.gov, SAM registration process or the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, please call Matthew Reutter directly at (860) 741-6011.
Federal government releases Federal Resource Guide for Infrastructure Planning and Design
This community resource guide incorporates programs and opportunities from eight federal agencies and lays out a new set of principles to inform the work of local and State governments, public and private utilities, planners and other stakeholders around the U.S. Click here for guide.