Silent Spring continues Cape advocacy

Silent Spring Institute has joined forces with the University of Rhode Island and Harvard to establish a new research center focused on chemical contaminants in drinking water, and Cape Cod will play a critical role in the center.

The five-year project is being funded by an $8 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program.

The interdisciplinary team will be partnering with Cape towns to study PFASs (per- and polyfluorinated chemicals).

"PFASs are an important water quality concern on the Cape, where they have been found at levels above EPA guidelines in public drinking water wells in Hyannis and Mashpee and in private wells near Joint Base Cape Cod," said Silent Spring's Alexandra Goho in an email to the Times. "Our research at Silent Spring has also found lower levels of PFASs in private wells impacted by septic systems across the Cape."

To learn more about the new center, go to https://today.uri.edu/news/uri-receives-8-million-federal-grant-to-establish-research-center-on-chemical-pollutants-in-drinking-water.

National Flood Insurance Program a disaster

Now that Harvey and Irma have done their damage, let's not make the same mistakes by rebuilding in high-risk flood zones and barrier beaches.

After all, more than 80 percent of those with homes damaged by rising water in Houston do not have flood insurance.

And in Florida, an Associated Press analysis showed a steep drop in flood insurance across the state, including the areas most endangered by a devastating storm surge.

With 1,350 miles of coastline, the most in the continental U.S., Florida has roughly 2.5 million homes in hazard zones, more than three times that of any other state. And yet, across Florida’s 38 coastal counties, just 42 percent of these homes are covered.

Fannie Mae requires mortgage lenders to make sure property owners buy flood insurance to qualify for federally backed loans, and yet in 59 percent of the cases, that insurance isn’t being paid. In most cases, the annual premium is between $300 and $500.

Nationwide, only half the 10 million properties that need flood insurance have it, said Roy Wright, who runs the National Flood Insurance Program.

And speaking of the NFIP, it was established about 50 years ago to help cover catastrophic losses under two conditions: that local communities would take appropriate land-use and other measures to prevent development in risky low-lying areas; and that homeowners would pay actuarially sound premiums.

But, as we learned in Houston, where entire neighborhoods were built in filled-in bayous, and in Florida, where people are not paying flood insurance, that in not happening. As a result, the NFIP is in serious financial jeopardy.

So before the NFIP is reauthorized by Congress by Sept. 30, the program must be reformed.

And FEMA, which is ultimately responsible for enforcing flood insurance requirements, must do its job.

How well do you know the U.S. Constitution?

On Sunday, we celebrate the 230th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787.

The Constitution has existed as “the supreme law of the land” for more than two centuries, making it the oldest written constitution in the world.

But how familiar are you with its original precepts?

Here is a quiz developed by the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in Ohio:

1. Under the original Constitution, the president was elected by:

A. Direct vote of the people of the United States
B. Electors chosen by Congress
C. Electors chosen in each state
D. He was not elected, but appointed by members of the House and Senate

2. According to the Constitution, the number of representatives in the House is:

A. A number to be determined by Congress, based on population;
B. Between one and 11 from each state, depending on population;
C. Two from each state;
D. 435

3. In the original Constitution, the number of justices on the Supreme Court is:

A. Seven;
B. Nine;
C. No less than seven, and no more than 17;
D. The Constitution does not specify the number of justices

4. The minimum age for a member of the U.S. Senate is:

A. 25
B. 30
C. 35
D. The Constitution does not specify a minimum age

5. Which state was the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution?

A. Maryland
B. Delaware
C. New Jersey
D. Connecticut

6. In the original Constitution, how many references are there to “slaves” or “slavery”?

A. Zero
B. One
C. Two
D. Three

7. The Declaration of Independence includes four references to God. How many are there in the original Constitution?

A. Zero
B. One
C. Two
D. Three

ANSWERS: 1-C, 2-A, 3-D, 4-B, 5-B, 6-A, 7-A