On Oct. 1, Robert Klee, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), attracted a full house of students, faculty and Willimantic residents in the Science Building Auditorium, where he discussed environmentalism in Connecticut and the work of the DEEP.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was established in the 1970s. At the time, “the Connecticut River was regarded as the most beautiful open sewage system in America,” said Klee. Energy was added to the DEP’s mission in 2011, and the agency’s name was changed.
A challenge the DEEP continues to face is balancing environmental initiatives with energy initiatives — they often clash. “Some want pristine forests and rivers to fish in; others want hydroelectric power plants along the rivers,” said Klee.
We are a leader in the nation when it comes to financing energy projects,” he continued, citing Connecticut’s “green bank.” “We’re also seeing huge increases in solar power and electric vehicles.”
Klee said climate change is largely the result of inefficient energy use, and is changing the physical environment, evidenced by such phenomena as rising sea levels and affects on wildlife. “Storms are more frequent and intense than in the past. Our infrastructure can’t handle it.” Should a massive power outage occur, Klee mentioned the development of “micro grids” within the larger grid.
A student questioned the correlation between development and pollution, citing how repaving roads increases pollution runoff into waterways. “Repaving the roads is necessary,” Klee said. “Another example is the building of the rail system along the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield corridor. It’s a large project that will produce waste, but it’s a big step in mass transit.”
Eastern students, faculty and staff, area residents and public officials packed the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room on Oct. 1, when Eastern hosted the monthly meeting of the State of Connecticut African-American Affairs Commission (AAAC).
President Elsa Núñez greeted the commissioners. AAAC Executive Director Glen Cassis and Sociology Professor Dennis Canterbury, who is a Commission member, presented the audience with an overview of the commission, describing its origin, statute, mission, legislative priorities, accomplishments, statistical data and issues of interest. The audience asked questions about education, criminal justice, health, affordability of higher education, racial profiling and President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. Fred Pierre-Louis, the commission’s chairman and Subira Gordon, the commission’s legislative analyst, shared information on resources for students to use to gain access to higher education and ways to help pay for it.
The mission of the AAAC is to improve and promote the economic development, education, health and political wellbeing of the African American community in Connecticut. It accomplishes these goals through information sharing, promoting cultural awareness, community networking and legislation. For more information, visit: http://www.cga.ct.gov/aaac/index.php.