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Earth Day at the Capitol
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Environmentalists converged at the state Capitol today to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  Many pointed out the pollution has been cleaned up over the years. While others said there’s still a lot to do.

Back on the first Earth Day in April 1970, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection didn’t even exist. The mighty Connecticut River was known for its stench. And there were no deposits to recycle bottles and cans. State Representative Denise Merrill says since then Connecticut has become an environmental leader among states.

“We have an enviable record on environmental progress in this state. And today is a day that we can celebrate that.”

But others pointed out what the state still could work on.

“My name is Georgia White. I’m 11 years old.”

White is one of a group of children who testified before the environment committee about problems like light pollution.”

“You can’t see the stars for one thing, which is bad for astronomers. And animals and ecosystems are often messed up by excess light.”

White’s schoolmate, 14-year-old Julia Pereira, is concerned about the plastic bag.

“It’s made out of pertroleum, which is a limited resource.  It takes like about 500 years to decompose. If you think about it, that’s a really long time.”

Along with the students, the Capitol was bustling with dozens of exhibitors, many of whom stopped to get lunch at the cafeteria,

“Cheese on it, baby?”

That’s cashier Reanetha McKnight who wondered why Earth Day brought so many people inside.

“You all need to be outside exploring the earth, not inside.”

There was one event at the Capitol that did take people outdoors. An urban forester from the Department of Environmental Protection gave a tour of the trees in Bushnell Park. Where some of the more than 100 varieties were flowering this Earth Day.

For WNPR, I'm Nancy Cohen.