CT Green Energy News May 17, 2024

News and events for advocates of clean energy, energy efficiency and climate action at the state and local levels, focusing on Connecticut. Brought to you by People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE), www.pacecleanenergy.org.

Some Connecticut Towns Are Banning Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers. Will More Join In?
New Haven Register. “Connecticut has seen a handful of communities taking action against the noisy and often environmentally-unfriendly equipment. In January, Greenwich adopted a new ordinance to ban the use of internal-combustion leaf blowers during the summer months…Norwalk will require landscapers to shelve gas-powered leaf blowers eight months of the year…The California Air Resources Board estimates that running a gas-powered leaf blower for an hour produces pollution equal to a car that is driven from Los Angeles to Denver, which at just over 1,000 miles is the rough equivalent of the distance from Hartford to Jacksonville, Fla.”

OP-ED | Environmental Justice
CT News Junkie. “Power plants, highways, and other pollution sources in Connecticut disproportionately impact the health of Black and brown communities and low-income communities in our state. Here in Hart-ford, polluting energy facilities and two highways are key drivers of air pollution that make people sick. … This truth makes it all the more important that the State of Connecticut seize an unmissable opportunity to rectify the historic harm caused by one of our city’s highest polluting sources, the Capitol Area System. … For the Hartford community, exposure to pollution from the Capitol Area System and other fossil fuel combustion, has been a long-term environmental injustice that must be healed. … Hartford residents deserve a 100% clean and renewable Capitol Area System and job opportunities in the green economy, and we’re counting on Governor Lamont to ensure that it happens.”

Next Deadline for Newsletter Articles: Saturday, Aug. 17, 2024

Please submit copy to [email protected]. 350-word limit. Questions? Call Paula at 203-562-2798. The next issue is our September issue. Please let us know what events your group has planned. Subscription: $13 for 10 issues, check payable to PAR, 608 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511.

Reminder: The PAR Newsletter does not publish in July or August. Your next newsletter will be the September issue. Summer updates will be on our website par-newhaven.org.

Yale Police Arrest 47 Student Protesters for Trespassing on Beinecke Plaza

Yale Daily News, April 23, 2024

Yale police arrested 47 pro-Palestine student protesters on Monday morning. Shortly after 6 a.m., officers arrived at Beinecke Plaza, where protesters demanding that Yale divest from military weapons manufacturers had set up tents during the third night of their overnight encampment. Police detained protesters who refused to vacate the Plaza. …

The protesters were charged with trespassing, a Class A misdemeanor, before being released with a citation and an assigned court date of May 8. Yale Police Chief Anthony Campbell ’95 DIV ’09 said they had issued a warning to protesters on the Plaza last night at 11 p.m. and in the morning before 7 a.m. prior to arresting student protesters.

Arrested students will be referred for Yale disciplinary action — which could include reprimand, probation or suspension.

About 250 protesters rallied in support of the arrested individuals, flanking detainees and police officers as they boarded the buses.

[Read the entire article at yaledailynews.com/blog/2024/04/22/live-police-begin-arresting-pro-divestment-protesters-on-beinecke-plaza]

Occupy Beinecke Holds Teach-ins, Displays Artwork

by Nora Moses, Ariela Lopez, & Yolanda Wang, Yale Daily News, April 17, 2024

On the second day of the organizers’ sit-in on Beinecke Plaza, students and faculty members hosted over 12 hours of events to call attention to Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza … and for the University to divest from military weapons manufacturing. …

The organizers began arriving just before 8 a.m., alongside pro-Palestine hunger strikers gathered in a tent and an anti-war art installation on Beinecke Plaza. The art installation featured a roughly 10-foot-long model of a fighter jet with messages such as “COMPLACENCY = COMPLICITY” written on its surface. …

According to Yale’s SEC filings, the University holds over 6,400 shares — worth $680,207 — of iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF, a Blackrock-managed exchange-traded fund. The ETF invests in several weapons manufacturers that sell weapons to Israel, including 0.27 percent of holdings in Raytheon, 0.20 percent in Boeing and 0.19 percent in Lockheed Martin — just under $4,000 across the three companies. Yale, however, publicly dis-closes just 1 percent of its endowment investments, so it remains unclear exactly to what extent the University invests in weapons manufacturers. …

[T]he coalition of protesters was not organized by any single student organization. Instead, the coalition includes organizers who also plan actions from Yalies4Palestine, Yale Graduate Students for Palestine, the Yale Endowment Justice Coalition and Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven.

[Article can be read in its entirety at https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2024/04/17/occupy-beinecke-holds-teach-ins-displays-artwork]

Walk for Gaza May 23-25

by Melinda Tuhus and Allie Perry, Community Activists

A coalition of community activists is organizing a Walk for Gaza in CT over three days, Thursday, May 23 – Saturday, May 25. Inspired by a global movement to walk a distance equivalent to the length of Gaza, CT’s walk, like the hundreds of others, will call attention to the crisis in Gaza, with calls for an immediate, permanent ceasefire and conditioning of US military aid to Israel.

Organizers are planning a route that will cover a distance of around 24 miles in three legs: (1) Day One, Thursday the 23rd will be in the New Haven area and will include stops at the offices of Rep. Rosa DeLauro and both campuses of Yale New Haven Hospital – there to call attention to Israel’s destruction of Al Shifa and the other hospitals in Gaza; (2) Day Two, Friday the 24th in Bridgeport beginning at the Bridgeport Islamic Center for prayers and then various stops, including the office of Rep. Jim Himes and Bridgeport Hospital; (3) Day Three, Saturday the 25th, along CT’s shoreline beginning at the First Church of Guilford and ending at Hammonasset Beach in Madison.

In addition to being visible and vocal about the crisis, organizers are planning to raise money through the walk for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), for which first, President Biden, and then Congress, have eliminated funding even as the catastrophe deepens and UNRWA has been the agency that is by far providing the most survival services to the people of Gaza.

Participants are invited to join for any and all portions of this three-day witness. A sag wagon will be available to shuttle walkers who need a break. Look for more information shared on social media about registering to walk or to volunteer to help with the walk.

Contact  for more info: [email protected].

Both Hayes and DeLauro Go Back on Pocan Letter And Vote Billions for Israeli Military

by Stanley Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee

[U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Jahana Hayes were among 56 members of Congress who signed Rep. Mark Pocan’s letter, calling on Pres. Biden to withhold offensive arms transfers to Israel. On April 20, when the bill went to the House of Representatives, they voted in favor of giving Israel $26 billion, of which $4 billion is for Israel’s missile defense system and additional weapon purchases.]

The bill H.R. 8034 throws the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) under the bus. In Sec. 308, none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs may be made available for a contribution, grant, or other payment to UNRWA, notwithstanding any other provision of law.

“Gaza” is mentioned 11 times, demanding reports to see if any money was diverted to Hamas or “other terrorists.”

$9 billion is appropriated to the President for “vulnerable populations and communities.” It could be for Ukraine or Gaza or Israel or whatever. By my reading he doesn’t have to give a nickel to Gaza. It’s all up to President Biden.

A Plan to Fight Wage Theft Is Taking Shape in New Haven

José Luis Martínez, CT Mirror, March 31, 2024

[Editor’s Note: This article is part of CT Mirror’s Spanish-language news coverage developed in partnership with Identidad Latina Multimedia.]

Some businesses employ creative tactics to avoid paying their employees. They write bad checks, misclassify workers, falsify work hours or simply not pay them at all.
Lina Segura, for example, says she worked multiple 80+ hour workweeks last year and was not paid thousands in wages. But that’s just a fraction of at least $17 million identified as stolen from workers across Connecticut since 2019 after thousands of state investigations.

John Jairo Lugo, co-founder of immigrant rights organization Unidad Latina en Acción, is fed up. For over a decade, he’s pushed for an idea: What if a city’s health department could suspend or revoke the food and beverage licenses of cafés, bars and restaurants that commit labor violations?

After advocating for the idea since 2013, a version of it could soon become a city ordinance in New Haven. Eamon Coburn, a member of the HAVEN medical-legal partnership at Yale, which provides legal services and works with healthcare providers to tackle non-medical factors that affect people’s health, presented the idea to city officials in June 2023 … Once they overcome some legal hurdles, the ordinance could be formally introduced. If it passes, New Haven would join several cities, from Boston to San Francisco, that have created wage-theft deterrents at the local level. ..

Why a City Ordinance?
ULA has long advocated for more worker protections and harsher punishments against businesses that steal wages, as far back as the early 2000s. In 2005, it advocated for ideas that would involve the city’s police department, and in 2013, it sent New Haven officials an idea that is identical to what is being proposed now…

And during those years, the number of wage complaints submitted to the state has risen while the number of staffers who investigate those claims has decreased. State investigations can lead to fines, civil penalties and possible jail time.

The department currently has about 1,000 cases that are yet to be assigned to an investigator, creating months-long waits for workers to have their cases heard… Thousands of small claims cases are pending in court. …With this backlog, Lugo is even more compelled to get this city ordinance to the finish line.

Restaurants across the state were ordered to pay back more than $3 million to almost 2,000 employees since 2012 after federal law violations, according to a review of federal wage claim data by The Connecticut Mirror last year. …

“Employment and income will also affect your health,” said Coburn, adding that having one’s wages stolen can lead to homelessness, hunger and lack of access to medical care and transportation. “That public health lens is what is under-neath this proposal.”

[Article can be read in its entirety at https://ctmirror.org/2024/03/31/ct-wage-theft-new-haven/]

HazWaste Central at 90 Sargent Drive Opens for the Season on May 18, 2024

HazWaste Central is co-sponsored by the Regional Water Authority and the South Central Regional Council of Governments. Visiting HazWaste Central is convenient and easy because visitors never have to leave their cars, and all hazwaste is off-loaded by professionals. HazWaste Central helps residents in member towns protect local waterways and natural environments by providing a location for the appropriate and safe disposal of household hazardous waste. HazWaste Central is free to residents whose towns are active members of the HazWaste Central Municipal Planning Committee only.

Register
Please pre-register for the collection event you would like to attend. Attendance to multiple collection events throughout the Hazwaste season will require registration for each visit.

Registration Form:
https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/a69c2c00e2674223a7438dbff47679c2.

What to Bring
Check here for a list of all acceptable items: acceptable-list-2023-03-a.pdf (rwater.com).

Future Collections at 90 Sargent Dr.: June 1, 8, 15, 22; July 6, 13, 20, 27.

Long-Awaited Change in the West River Neighborhood

by Frank Panzarella, former board member of West River Neighborhood Services Corporation

For decades, West River residents of New Haven have worked to reconnect the neighborhood cut in half by the misguided urban development nightmare on N. Frontage Road [since renamed MLK Blvd.] and Legion Avenue that attempted to run a major highway through their backyards.

Members of the West River Self Help Investment Program (WRSHIP) created an opportunity to invest in their own neighborhood. Combined with a non-profit development group, the NHP Foundation, they are finally building 56 apartment units, with a community center, coffee shop, bakery, interior parking, a playground and a community gazebo.

These units also sit next to the New Haven United Nations International Peace Garden, created in 2011. This development will bring sorely needed affordable housing to the West River neighborhood.

“The project represents the first new housing to be constructed on a vast stretch of land in New Haven that has been vacant for over four decades,” according to Anthony Dawson, President of WRSHIP and a native of New Haven. It is also a major step for the inclusion of New Haven’s African American community in major economic endeavors. Jerry and Joyce Poole have also been integral leaders working for years to help make this program a reality along with many West River residents.

Named after a well-known leader in the community who championed New Haven’s homeless population and people with AIDS, the complex will be known as the Rev. Curtis M. Cofield II Estates.

The New Haven Independent covered the recent ground-breaking of the development.

You can read about it here: newhavenindependent.org/article/curtts_cofield_estates

Unforgotten: Connecticut’s Hidden History of Slavery

CT Public Radio www.npr.org/podcasts/organizations/s546

It’s a history lesson many of us didn’t get in school: Slavery has deep roots in Connecticut and across New England. Enslaved people helped build the foundation of much of this state. Get to know some of these men and women and the lives they lived. Hear from descendants who reflect on their loved ones. And learn from historians and experts going on a journey of discovery to recover this hidden history. In this five-part episode podcast from Connecticut Public, Reporter/Producer Diane Orson and Editorial Consultant and Curator Frank Mitchell discuss some of the issues in and around these stories.

Visit www.ctpublic.org/unforgotten to learn more, including additional videos, photos and digital stories.

A Steep Rate Hike for Electricity Due to Increased Cost of Government Mandates

by Francisco Uranga, CT Examiner, April 19, 2024

Connecticut customers will pay significantly higher electric bills starting July 1, after a rate hike of more than 12 percent to pay for a doubling of charges stemming from government mandates including energy assistance, a shut-off moratorium and the Millstone purchase agreement. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) approved a rate increase on Wednesday for Eversource and United Illuminating. Together, the utilities serve 80 percent of the state’s residential customers. The hike resulted from the so-called Rate Adjustment Mechanism, an annual adjustment by which utilities request rate changes based on the cost of mandated public programs.

United Illuminating estimates that the rate increase will average $30 a month, depending on each user’s consumption, a 12 percent increase. Eversource had not yet estimated the impact, according to a company spokeswoman. The new rates will apply starting July 1 and will be in effect for 10 months or until a review in September.

PURA commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of the increase. The negative vote came from the agency’s chairwoman, Marissa Gillett. She suggested that the cost recovery should be staggered over two to three years rather than 10 months to soften the impact on consumers.

“Unfortunately, though, today’s decision by PURA is likely to place further financial strain on those that can least afford it, and it will also hit the pocketbooks of our business community in a particularly challenging way,” Gillett said in her defense.

Connecticut has one of the most expensive electric rates in the country. Among the reasons are high generation costs, a segment that is deregulated and where Connecticut has the disadvantage of being at the end of the natural gas pipeline, driving up prices, and public charges, which range from programs to encourage renewable energy to bill payment assistance for people with economic hardship, and the power purchase agreement with Dominion Energy’s Millstone nuclear power plant.
[Read the complete article at: https://ctexaminer.com/2024/04/19/state-regulators-approve-a-steep-rate-hike-for-electricity-due-to-a-doubling-cost-of-government-mandates]

The Great Give Giving Event May 1-2

Celebrating its 15th year in 2024, The Great Give returns on May 1-2. This 36-hour, online, community-wide giving event was created by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to raise visibility and resources for nonprofits serving Greater New Haven.

With more than 530 participating local nonprofits, you can find organizations and causes you care about to support in The Great Give 2024. Look through the list of organizations today, find your favorites and find new ones to support. Be ready to give during the 36 hours between 8 a.m. on May 1 and 8 p.m on May 2. Join thousands of others with a gift of $5 or more to support our community. Together we raise, together we rise! Go to www.thegreatgive.org for info.

A New Book of Interest: Radical Connecticut: People’s History in the Constitution State

by Andy Piascik and Steve Thornton

Radical Connecticut tells the stories of everyday people and well-known figures whose work has often been obscured, denigrated, or dismissed. …

Unlike a traditional history that focuses on the actions of politicians, generals, business moguls and other elites, this volume features workers, the poor, people of color, peacemakers, women, students, artists and others who joined the never-ending struggle for justice and freedom … a fresh look at history that can spark young people to engage in social justice work in an increasingly complex and dangerous world.

It can also be used as a guide for strategy and tactics useful to those who are engaged in today’s social struggles. Whether you are a veteran or a novice, Radical Connecticut reminds us that today—and down through the years—organizing is always worth the effort.

Purchase the book for $20 at Barnes and Noble, Powell’s Books, Hard Ball Press, and other internet bookstores.

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