New England editorial roundup
Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, Aug. 9 2012
Lake Champlain is in trouble, and Vermont has the opportunity to take a lead in really cleaning up the lake waters, but only if it can get ahead of the problem.
"Holding the line" on lake pollution is no longer enough.
Experts and policymakers have long recognized the need to reduce the amount of pollution reaching the lake in any real fight to improve water quality.
What has been missing so far is the political will and leadership to tackle a solution that will force lakeside communities and farms to change the way they do business and impact this natural jewel.
The past few years and the $100 million -- mostly federal money -- poured into cleaning up the lake shows that there's little progress that can be made until we deal with the sources of the pollution. No amount of money put in after the pollution is in the lake is going to matter if the pollution continues to flow into the waters.
The main culprits are agricultural runoff, mainly from dairy operations, and urban stormwater from cities and suburbs, both laden with phosphorus that spurs algae growth, choking parts of the lake.
There's little chance of cleaning up the pollution in Lake Champlain unless you do something about new pollution flowing into the lake. Otherwise, all we are doing is flushing millions down the drain.
Cleaning up the lake also calls for Vermont working with New York and Quebec to pursue an aggressive policy to reduce runoff enough to make the real difference in improving water quality as opposed to "holding the line."
The Free Press reports, "Success in reducing nutrient-rich runoff to the lake depends on the voluntary cooperation of farmers, home owners and municipalities. Government payments proved the incentive in many cases."
Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross concedes, "We're resource short against the scale of the problem we face."
Put another way, the current approach is falling short because the government lacks the money -- taxpayer dollars -- to pay enough "farmers, home owners and municipalities" to change their ways.
When incentives prove to be insufficient, when "voluntary cooperation" fails, the next step is to consider regulation.
Regulation that requires controlling agricultural runoff and stormwater will likely mean higher costs for dairy farmers and increased taxes or fees for residents and businesses in communities around the lake.
Vermont's dairy farmers already face serious financial challenges. Raising the cost via regulation is never popular. Taking money from Washington is one thing. Asking your constituents to pay directly is another.
This is where rhetoric meets reality. For all the talk from the previous governor's administration about tackling the insidious problem of pollution, the money has solved very little. If you want to talk about waste, here is your culprit.
Are elected officials willing to take the hits to push for real action to reduce pollution in the lake or concede that "holding the line" is the most they're willing to do?
In the next decades, we can either lose this lake with easy acquiescence or win her back with courage to do the right thing.
The New Haven (Conn.) Register, Aug. 8, 2012
Connecticut has been spared firsthand experience of the uproar over the president of Chick-fil-A's view that God only sanctions marriage between a man and a woman. Spread like kudzu over the South and much of the rest of the country, the fried-chicken sandwich chain has no restaurants in Connecticut. In fact, it has only three restaurants in New England, plus just one in New York, according to its website.
The remark by Tom Cathy in the Baptist Press sparked protests from supporters of same sex marriage urging boycotts of the restaurants that are individually owned franchises. Mayors in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco said Chick-fil-A was not welcome in their cities. "Chick-fil-A values are not our values," Chicago's Rahm Emanuel said. The mayor somehow forgot -- as "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart pointed out -- that hundreds of thousands of Catholics in his city share the same belief that marriage is defined as only between a man and a woman.
Emanuel, who was President Barack Obama's chief of staff, also forgot what Obama said in 2008 as a candidate for president.
"I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman," Obama said then. "Now, for me as a Christian ... it is also a sacred union."
This latest battle in the culture wars shows that politicians and others who consider themselves liberals can be as intolerant of other views as anyone else.
A business cannot be shut out of a city just because of its president's views. There is a constitutional protection for free speech. Further, Chick-fil-A's policy is to treat its workers with "honor, dignity and respect" regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
However, there is long-term harm to Chick-fil-A if eating there is seen as either a protest against gay marriage or support for free speech. The company's business is selling sandwiches, not political views.
Cathy's views about speaking his mind may change if the controversy does not subside. He may choose to be less vocal for the good of his business. His views may evolve just as have Obama's. Facing a close election, the president recently announced his support for gay marriage.