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    Monday, March 04, 2024

    How representatives score on environmental justice

    This letter is to voice my concern that the two state legislators who serve as representatives from the town of Salem (Holly Cheeseman and Irene Haines) appear to be unaware of the local adverse impacts from climate change, air and water pollution, and toxins in our poorest neighborhoods.

    During this year's legislative session, as reported on the Environmental Scorecard recently released by the League of Conservation Voters (The Day, 10/27/2023), both of these representatives seem to have followed the national Republican Party's lead in pushing back against environmental justice, by voting against Senate Bill 1147. Fortunately, the bill passed anyway, with bipartisan support, including several moderate Republicans such as Sen. Heather Somers and Rep. Devin Carney from this region. The bill (now Public Act 23-202) strengthens the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's authority to deny permits for, and/or mitigate, new polluting facilities in Connecticut. Much still needs to be done to decrease the current environmental impacts from existing major projects. However, this is a huge step forward for communities that have suffered from polluting facilities.

    It is time for our Salem representatives to listen to our local voices rather than those of their national party. Incidentally, both Reps. Cheeseman and Haines got failing grades on the Environmental Scorecard (see www.ctlcv.org).

    Alfreda Shapere


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