Letters to the Editor - 6-6-24

Salisbury Forum lecture: mix of misinformation

Joshua Goldstein’s Salisbury Forum presentation on May 11, along with his book “A Bright Future,” and Oliver Stone’s movie, “Nuclear Now,” based on that book, are all three long on propaganda and short on reality. Well-meaning as Goldstein may be, it doesn’t take an expert to detect holes in his arguments for nuclear energy. His co-author’s ties to nuclear industries raise flags too.

“Time is running out on decarbonizing our energy systems.” True, but the new “fast, safe, and cheap” reactor technologies he showcased have never been built or tested. His solution? Streamlining and simplifying the permitting process, code for deregulation. What could go wrong?

Radioactive waste? “Don’t worry about that because climate change is scarier. We’ll deal with waste later”. How’s that for scientific and economic reasoning? At least the UK has a plan, an estimated 150 year/$84 billion project to bury beneath the ocean floor, just the last seven decades of accumulated nuclear waste.

Understating health risks of nuclear is standard with Goldstein. “Only 150 deaths related to nuclear reactors over the last 60 years, all first-responders at Chernobyl in 1986.” A 1996 W.H.O. study predicted 4,000 cancer deaths around Chernobyl, 5,000 including contaminated areas nearby, and 16,000 across all of Europe. That’s deaths only, not other downwind health issues.

“The 2011 Fukushima meltdown was not a nuclear disaster but a natural disaster. An unnecessary and botched evacuation is what killed people.” That quote alone erases any credibility Goldstein might have had. Cesium-137 fallout was widespread and a decades-long health risk. Within days of the meltdown hydrogen explosions exposed other reactors. Evacuating 160,000+ people was imperative.

“More people die from coal every day than have ever died from nuclear!” was an oft repeated phrase. As if those are our only choices.

Goldstein repeatedly belittled the success of wind, solar, and battery storage with the usual tropes: nighttime, unreliability, clear cutting mature forests for solar, immature battery technology, plus a new one, “dirty solar panels made with Chinese coal.”

Here’s some facts:

Covering existing roof tops and parking lots in America with solar panels would equal all the country’s current generation capacity.

Wind turbines in just twelve mid-western states could equal that generation capacity too.

There’s wind potential in the other states, plus offshore. We’re talking many times our current generation capacity from carbon and nuclear free technologies, proven and getting better and cheaper daily.

Long-duration storage? In just six years California reached 10,397 megawatts of battery storage, equivalent to seven nuclear reactors.

Renewables hit 30% of the world’s generation in 2023, cheaper, cleaner, safer, and faster than nuclear.

The nuclear industry knows these facts too, but their PR campaign is as deceptive as the oil industry’s.

I love the Salisbury Forum but we need other perspectives on energy. I recommend starting with Arjun Makhijani of The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. You can access for free, his Carbon and Nuclear Free, A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy. ieer.org/projects/carbon-free-nuclear-free

Albert Ginouves


Cart before the Horse ?

I recommend anyone who uses the Labonne’s market plaza and the Academy/Railroad/Library Street corridor in the village center get engaged with current plans/concepts percolating for approval amongst the many committees within the town of Salisbury.

Most notable are the two housing developments bookending the center of the village and the report of recommendations regarding such expansions made by Colliers Engineering.

The first of these housing developments, named Dresser Woods, has already received a green light from the Planning and Zoning Commission. A traffic study was prepared by Hesketh in support of the expansion.

Conclusion from the Hesketh report:

“Based on the observed background traffic volumes, the projected site volumes and the analysis as outlined in the this report, it is our professional opinion that the traffic volumes associated with the proposed development can readily be accommodated by the existing roadway network without significant impact to current operations.”

This study appears to have only considered the impact on village center traffic with respect to the Dresser Woods development alone.

It recommends that there be no changes or improvements to the existing roadways?

Residents who use these roadways or park at LaBonnes on a regular basis may have some questions. Design plans for the second housing development on the Pope land located at the south end of the same corridor are well under way.

Assessing the impact of one access road/housing project in isolation ignores the cumulative effect on traffic/parking that these two neighboring developments will present to the villages vehicular volume.

Adding the proposed 20+ multi family units at Dresser to the 60+ multi family units proposed at Pope is a very significant increase in village resident population and the many vehicles that will inevitably follow them, be they individually owned and/or service oriented.

One of the concepts proposed by Colliers Engineering is to construct a two-lane access road from the Pope development directly to the village center. At this stage, how this may impact the rail trail is unclear.

Setting aside the potentially contentious issue of losing yet more green space this is something that given the significant infrastructure costs, all taxpayers should be allowed to weigh in on.

I would urge residents to also note that the proposed housing expansions are all slated to be rental in nature, funded in part by non-profit organizations with private/ state funding. They will NOT be subject to local property taxes therefore.

Minimizing Dresser’s traffic impacts without factoring Pope’s is the definition of putting the cart before the horse and sidesteps any meaningful community input by splintering the discussion into individual committees application processes.

Town Hall owes resident taxpayers a full accounting of projected impacts to the mil rate prior to green lighting what appear to be piecemeal, unfunded population expansions that are locked in for perpetuity.

The housing itself might be designated as affordable but, the unanswered question remains : can we afford the associated infrastructure ?

Aidan Cassidy


Paving concerns

Since February of this year, there have been articles and letters to the editor expressing concern about paving and altering existing, natural, and public landscapes:

—Community Field in Lakeville

—Rail Trail leading to and from the Pope property

—Rail Trail leading to and from the Dresser Woods development

And a new nonprofit has been formed to save the Rail Trail.

In the May 30 edition of The Lakeville Journal, an article titled Behind ‘Save the Rail Trail’ suggests that paving to support the Pope project is a “misinterpretation” of the Colliers study. In an earlier article about paving Community Field, Curtis Rand said “There is no plan to pave 30% of Community Field. It’s absurd.”

What’s wrong with this is that the Colliers study does include paving all these places, it is coming up in P&Z meetings without public input and all the general public gets is denials while the paving concepts slowly move ahead and gain traction.

Case in point: P&Z claims that it is not officially proposing paving Community Field, but go to the Salisbury P&Z section in the Town website www.salisburyct.us/planning-zoning-meeting-documents, listen to the replay of the January 2, 2024 meeting beginning at the 2:40 time stamp. You will hear P&Z discussing specifically adding to the Plans of Conservation and Development “POCD” paved parking, the track around the field and paved walkways through Bauer Park. Why is P&Z cherry picking some things and not others in the Colliers report, and why do they decide without legitimate consideration of public input? As to why, Dr. Klemens says that P&Z included “things it liked” about the report and put in items “we prioritize.” Adding P&Z put them in because we felt “strongly” and adding there are some things “it didn’t like.”

We’ve all seen this movie. An outside group (Colliers) is paid to brainstorm ideas for the Town. Without sufficient input from the public and actual consideration of Town residents and sentiments, a small group of people, in one case, P&Z, decides which options to include in the POCD, in another case, a former Selectman initiates changing a piece of the Rail Trail. Next thing you know, the Rail Trail is being surveyed in preparation for paving, sidewalks, housing, and lighting. In fact, you can see this for yourself if you walk the Rail Trail from LaBonnes north to 44. Look carefully and you will see surveyor marks on both sides of the Rail Trail.

Concerns over paving, therefore, are not misplaced. Of concern is when a few individuals and a small group of people in government, are not listening to these concerns.

Theodore Rudd O’Neill


Support for Jahana Hayes

I support Rep. Jahana Hayes — (D-5) because I know firsthand the amount of work and commitment it takes to represent constituents and communities. I was Rep. Rosa Delauro’s (D-3) campaign manager and then district director when she was first elected. The job is demanding— it takes a personal commitment to help those in need and a person who is true to their values and upbringing.

I know the hours involved — the number of meetings, the thousands of letters and calls that come into an office weekly. No, it’s not easy when you are not in the majority and working in a dysfunctional “House,” but Jahana, like Rosa, knows that the fight must continue — for our local farmers, to the town that needs funding for a septic system, to the woman with breast cancer who’s insurance company is cutting her off, to the family whose child lost their passport in a foreign country and can’t get home, to those who need financial assistance for college, to the person whose Social Security check didn’t come, the families who are working to keep afloat and need day care assistance, the small business owner who needs assistance, and the veteran struggling to get VA Assistance. And finally, to women who depend on her for assurance that the right to choose is a healthcare issue and needs her continued support in Congress.

Like Rosa, Jahana comes from a hard-working family. She understands the trials that so many of us in the 5th District fight to overcome every day. Most importantly, Jahana, like Rosa, knows that country comes first. She, like Rosa, knows and listens to the constituent who says, “walk in my shoes.” This election will define us for who we are.

You may not agree with all her policies, but Rep. Hayes will be honest and abide by the Constitution.

Marlene Woodman


Response to letter on Greenland ice

In responding to my May 9 letter about Greenland’s ice loss, John Hoffman accused me on May 16 of being a climate denier, of denigrating climate scientists, and of thinking two-dimensionally about a three-dimensional problem.

All false.

My letter stated that for decades the media has portrayed Greenland as suffering from huge, planet-altering ice loss with lost glaciers, rising oceans and “existential threats” to humanity and the planet. Yet recent reports revealed the astonishing fact that Greenland’s ice loss is actually just 1.6%.

Mr. Hoffman claims that revealing this fact makes it harder to solve the climate problem. Evidently it takes a constant stream of end-of-world rhetoric to spur action.

To that end, Mr. Hoffman used the same out-of-context scare tactics as the media when he noted that Greenland’s ice sheet has lost 20 feet of thickness over the past 22 years, a rate of “270 gigatons” of ice per year.

This sounds catastrophic until you hear the context that Mr. Hoffman failed to provide. The context is that Greenland’s ice sheet is one to two miles thick - some 5,000 to 10,000 feet. The loss of 20 feet over two decades (about one foot per year) is truly miniscule.

No matter how you measure Greenland’s ice loss —around the edges or from top to bottom — it is profoundly less than the media makes it out to be.

The problem isn’t climate deniers. It’s climate criers. Their doomsday rhetoric and forced solutions won’t save us.

They’re like those who oppose every housing project with endlessly conjured problems.

Mark Godburn


‘Save Rail Trail’ and affordable housing

Each spring as all becomes green again we battle invasive species that insinuate themselves. This spring a new green species has burst upon us. Signs have sprouted that beseech us to “Save the Rail Trail.” After extensive inquiry the undersigned is convinced that there is in fact no threat to the rail trail.

What lurks behind this outbreak of signage is an aversion to developing affordable housing on the Pope property. What these signs really mean is “we don’t want to house those less fortunate than ourselves.”

It is telling that these folks don’t wish us to know their names and hide behind a newly chartered entity. We have seen this on each occasion when affordable housing has been contemplated. I wish I could chalk this up to NIMBY but fear it is a much darker shade of green.

Philip V. Oppenheimer


Our responsibility to Mother Nature

It’s one thing to have two dog leashes entangle and then use it in a metaphor for immigration [as I did in a recent letter to the editor]. That was a pretty safe ‘tangle’ to delve into — how we as strangers choose to interact with one another — getting tangled and then untangled by our actions (or inactions) and words.

But what if it the ‘tangle’ is not a metaphor — but is real. And the tangle, though completely unintended, can literally cause great physical harm or death. Such a situation cropped up this morning while walking my dog, Jasper, in our local state park.

After parking in the main lot, Jasper (on a leash) and I walked, guided by his nose, from the field into the woods. We mostly stayed on the path all the way to where the path gets very close to the Housatonic River. There, a five-yard-long side path, overgrown with new vegetation, led directly to the river (Jasper likes to cool off by wading in the water).

I stepped slightly ahead of Jasper to descend safely to the river’s edge. As I turned to Jasper, I could see that his whole head was in complete physical distress. He looked as though he was suffering from multiple jellyfish stings as tight lines of constriction crisscrossed his face and head. Suppressing my panic, I knelt down, took off my gloves and softly spoke to Jasper as I gently probed his entire head to try and figure out what the heck was going on. As I probed, Jasper was leaning downhill, forward on the path. For a few moments, I couldn’t figure what was happening. It was only when my fingers got much deeper into his fur that I felt what the problem was.

My fingers revealed that is was a physical problem and not chemical one, which eased my panic but left me still very concerned with how to release Jasper from this totally constrictive, immobilizing prison. You see, unbeknownst to either to Jasper or I, descending along the path to the river, Jasper had walked head first into a large tangle of invisibly clear discarded fishing line. The tangle of line had enveloped his entire head, and with his forward movement entangled both of his hind legs. He could not open his mouth nor walk a single step. His eyes were wide. Gently and very slowly and carefully I searched for some play in the complex tangle of fishline. Finally, my hands eased his legs and head closer together, enough to free first his snout and then his whole head and finally his legs. I was shaking. Jasper, obviously relieved (and uninjured) happily waded in the river and then shook the cooling water from himself.

Nature provides us humans with such extraordinary beauty and resource.

Respecting Mother Nature means— we act responsibly when we visit her.

I hate to think what would have happened to an otter, a fox, a raccoon.

Michael Moschen

Cornwall Bridge

Clarifying Hayes on Palestinians

I am one of a great many Jews in the U.S. and around the world, including Israel, who are horrified by the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and believe that the Netanyahu regime is acting in ways that are contrary to both core Jewish values and Israel’s best interests. A letter to the editor in last week’s Lakeville Journal insinuates that Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, by expressing her concern for the suffering of millions of innocent Palestinians, is complicit in antisemitism. She is not. The letter-writer cites an April 5, 2024, letter signed by Congresswoman Hayes and 54 other Congress members urging a full investigation into the Israeli airstrike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers (more than 200 aid workers have been killed since the start of the war) and asking the Biden Administration to make certain that military assistance to Israel is subject to conditions to ensure it is used in compliance with U.S. and international law. This is not antisemitism. Nor is it antisemitism to decline support for legislation that would spend billions on military aid for Israel but not a penny for humanitarian aid. The letter-writer’s attack on Congresswoman Hayes is the kind of demagoguery that, regrettably, has become the stock-in-trade of today’s Republican Party.

Pamela Jarvis


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