A Request to Our Federal Delegation Regarding Tweed


TwitterFacebookCopy LinkPrintEmail

To the Editor:

Last week, I submitted testimony for the CT Legislative Environment Committee that held a public hearing. There are two bills, SB 1145 and SB 1147, that would update the environmental justice (EJ) laws to give CT DEEP further consideration of community input in permitting procedures for facilities.

Today, I am looking for support from our federal delegation for local air quality monitoring.

We need to establish that equipment be placed in our neighborhoods since East Haven residents do get the brunt of cumulative air pollution from Tweed New Haven Airport, Port Authority, industry and crosswinds leading to the highest incidence of asthma hospitalizations in the entire state of Connecticut, and recognized cumulative pollution impacts.

Westchester Airport has air quality monitors, noise monitors, health accounts for recognized carcinogens in the water supply, and community reporting requirements. This was made possible because elected officials got the funding to put it all in place. Currently, East Haven has no deal, no community benefits plan, no taxation from Tweed Airport. Why do Westchester Airport residents get more than East Haven residents even though both airports are operated by the same private corporation, Avports, a subsidiary of Goldman-Sachs? Avports has a Board of Directors that includes the West End Infrastructure Partners hedge fund staffer, Jonathan Hunt, of Goldman-Sachs, who has never held a public meeting in East Haven. Avports is dependent on federal funding and shares to pay high executive salaries for the CEO, Jorge Roberts, and CFO, Arturo Garcia, but neither has ever given a charitable donation to our local food pantry. Where are the protections for residential homes and residents? Where are the good corporate citizens skills from Avports, operating Tweed for the last 24 years?

I do not see how adding carcinogens near four (4)  elementary schools, childcare centers, and waterways so that a Texas/Virginia corporation can make tax-free money helps out the State of Connecticut. Even small aircraft are using leaded fuel that is known to cause neurological and breathing complications in this environmental justice census blocked population. There are no 11,000 jobs at this airport as was publicly announced on May 6, 2021. Instead, there are low wage, high turnover, toxic jobs such as de-icing that pay $16.00/hour, and part-time jobs paying minimum wage for part-time hours. That does not make a Connecticut livable wage, nor does it make East Haven better.

Since Tweed New Haven released the draft Environmental Assessment documents, I would like to request that as our federal representatives you write a letter to ask for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) letters under the 45 day public comment period that ends April 16, 2023. This is important since the Master Plan update process occurs every 10 years. In Westchester County, the government leads the EA changes and invests in public input via community surveys a forums. This is absent at Tweed New Haven Airport, even though it sits on public lands, and categorized as a quasi-state entity under Connecticut State Statute Chapter 267a, accountable to the State Auditors of Connecticut and State Attorney General. The financials hinge on unsustainable numbers of leisure travelers that mostly travel to Florida, and take their dollars out of Connecticut.

East Haven does not have a wetlands specialist nor a soil scientist on a local board or commission that can give the scientific comments that address the need to require an EIS. However, all of our federal representatives have available networks including environmentalists, ally organizations to request a support letter for our community. As a person of influence, I know that they are capable of more action to get East Haven the EIS that we deserve just like in the year 2000.

I am troubled by the hundred of pages of FOIA documents with Tweed Airport that circumvents answers. The airport is out of compliance in using the 737-800 model. There are hundreds of resident complaints that were not included in the EA, but I have the spreadsheet! There were plenty of emails from the FAA to Sean Scanlon questioning childrens’ health impacts, City of New Haven noise ordinance as contradictory to airport operations, wetlands delineation and monitoring, and financial questions on monies used back to 2008.

Our residents are counting on our federal representatives in Congress to be present on April 1st at the airport EA public hearing at 1:30pm located at the East Haven High School. I encourage everyone to come and add your voice to public records. As environmental justice (EJ) town #17 out of 169 cities and towns, East Haven land should not be steamrolled, trampled, flooded, and encroached upon until an EIS brings scientists, experts and independent organizations to look at cumulative impacts.

Lorena Venegas
East Haven, CT

To read and provide comments, please go to Tweedmasterplan.com and email comments to HVN-EA@mjinc.com or go to New Haven, East Haven and Branford public libraries for a printed version in the reference department.