About the Council
Activities of the Council in 2020
Research and Reports
The Council published the 2019 Environmental Quality in Connecticut Annual Report in April 2020, to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. In this year’s Annual Report, the Council expanded its assessment of solar photovoltaic electric generating facilities in the State and the impact certain projects have had on the destruction of core forests and conversion of agricultural land. The Council also included new data and charts on forest loss, the impact of impervious cover on water quality, and energy conservation. Again this year, bats and turtles were reorganized into a page on state-listed species because, unfortunately, no new data or no significant change has occurred regarding their population and/or distribution, which remains precariously low. The inclusion of biological indicators requires considerable care in the selection of appropriate species, and the Council is grateful for the advice it received from experts.
In 2020, the Council published a report “Low Deposit, Low Return” with recommendations to decrease solid waste in the state by capturing redeemables that are now lost to the waste stream. In the special report, the Council documented the relationship between the deposit fee on beverage containers and the rate at which those containers are redeemed. The report projects that based on the experience of other states, just a five-cent increase in the deposit fee could raise the redemption rate for beverage containers by at least fifty percent above the current level. Other recommendations include: expanding the types of beverage containers eligible for a deposit, assessing the need to increase the handling fee for retailers and redemption centers, and increasing the amount of post-consumer content in materials made and sold in the State and region. (see Waste Diversion)
Advice to Other Agencies
Council staff reviewed Environmental Impact Evaluations and scoping notices prepared by other agencies, and submitted comments when deemed appropriate. The Council coordinated with the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (OPM) and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to revise the Generic Environmental Classification Document (ECD). The Council provided training materials and updated all the notice templates to assist state agencies to develop notices for publication in the Environmental Monitor, consistent with the revised Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) Regulations. In addition, a project cancellation notice was added to inform the public and state agencies when a project was dropped from active status by a State agency.
The Council commented on a federal action and several state activities and plans, including the following:
- Draft Generic ECD;
- Proposed revisions to the current spill reporting regulations;
- Draft General Permit for Discharge of Stormwater and Dewatering Wastewaters from Construction Activities;
- Proposed legislation that could have impacted Connecticut’s environment; and
- Proposed Changes to NEPA Regulations.
The Council also commented on five applications for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need and 21 Petitions for Declaratory Ruling to the Connecticut Siting Council.
The Council continues to participate in a working group to assist with the development of regulations to implement the provisions of Public Act No. 20-9, An Act Revising Provisions of the Transfer Act and Authorizing the Development and Implementation of a Release-Based Remediation Program.
Citizen Concerns and Complaints
State law directs the Council to investigate citizen complaints alleging violation of any statute or regulation in respect to environmental quality. The Council receives weekly inquiries regarding routine matters that are addressed by providing the person who inquired with the correct person or agency to handle the matter.
Every month the Council discusses the inquiries and complaints of environmental consequence that were presented to the Council by individuals and groups. Many times that leads to special reports, such as the Council’s 2020 report “Low Deposit, Low Return”, on the problem with the State’s beverage container redemption program.
In 2020, staff investigated numerous complaints, including on-going air pollution violations and potential soil contamination in Stamford, unauthorized camping and vehicle access on state-owned lands; concerns regarding artificial turf; Japanese Knotweed; a demonstration project to deal with agricultural waste in Torrington; wetland impacts; pesticide applications; historic preservation; and water quality.
The Council regularly engages with state agencies and is appreciative of the assistance provided by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Transportation, the Office of Policy and Management, and others to answer citizen inquiries and resolve complaints. The Council also participates in webinars, meetings, workshops and other outreach activities of State agencies and stakeholder groups to offer information and to stay current on environmental issues.