Minutes of the December 15, 2010 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality held in the Russell Conference Room at 79 Elm St., Hartford.
PRESENT: Barbara Wagner (Chair), Janet Brooks, Liz Clark, Bruce Fernandez, Karyl Lee Hall, John Mandyck, Richard Sherman, Karl Wagener (Executive Director), Peter Hearn (Environmental Analyst).
Chair Wagner convened the meeting at 9:07 AM, noting the presence of a quorum.
Chair Wagner asked if there were revisions to the minutes of the November 17, 2010 meeting and public hearing. There was none. Sherman moved to approve the minutes; second by Clark and approved by the Council, with Fernandez abstaining for reason of having been absent at that meeting.
Chair Wagner announced that Executive Director Wagener will be the recipient of the Environmental Champion 2010 Award at the annual meeting of the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut on December 16.
Executive Director's Report
Wagener reported that staff had attended several important meetings since the last Council meeting.
He attended a meeting at the Capitol on the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) and the new environmental classification documents.
The Connecticut Business and Industry Association and the Department of Environmental Protection co-sponsored a meeting to discuss sustainability issues in Connecticut. The keynote speaker was a vice-president from the General Electric Company who spoke of the great business opportunities in many sustainability-related products such as wind turbines and smart grid technology, and he spoke of the need for an independent third-party to evaluate and report annually on progress towards goals.
The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Education Fund held its annual environmental summit which Chair Wagner and staff attended. Governor-elect Malloy spoke of his intention to focus on mass transit, energy and smart growth and said that brownfield redevelopment will be a priority. The forum was well attended and included numerous legislators.
Wagener also attended the meeting of the state’s Brownfields Working Group where he spoke briefly about the Councils’ proposals to consolidate the state’s potable water programs under a single management structure to improve efficiency and effectiveness. He also spoke briefly of the Council’s interest in revisions to the Transfer Act.
He attended the first “remediation roundtable” sponsored by the DEP’s Remediation Division, which was attended by more than 100 people. There was discussion of the “LEAN” initiatives undertaken by the Potable Water Section of the Remediation Division. Wagener gave examples of the unnecessary steps and inefficiencies that the DEP discovered and will eliminate.
Wagener and Hearn attended an open house held a few days earlier at the DEP that showcased the progress made by all the DEP divisions in the agency-wide LEAN process. He reported that the presentations were impressive. Governor M. Jodi Rell attended and congratulated Commissioner Marrella on an effort that should be duplicated throughout government.
Discussion of Recommendations for Legislation and Other Initiatives
Chair Wagner referred to the two documents that had been sent to them prior to the meeting. One was the draft list of legislative recommendations that had been proposed by the Council for discussion at the November public forum. The other was a proposed list of initiatives that could be communicated to Governor-elect for rapid administrative action, some of which also appeared in the legislative recommendations.
Mandyck suggested that the administrative recommendations be formatted as a letter to the Governor-elect. Sherman suggested that savings achievable through the suggestions be clarified as to how the savings are achieved with each recommendation. Members concurred with both points.
There was considerable discussion of the items to be placed on the list of legislative recommendations, to which staff had added the issues raised by citizens at the public forum. Members were in agreement that the list had to be restricted to high priority items, but that the other recommendations, if approved in concept by the Council, could be followed by staff and brought to the Council for subsequent action if the need or opportunity arose. Mandyck suggested mentioning all of the non-listed recommendations in the annual report; members concurred.
Discussion about each of legislative recommendations followed; the following changes to the draft list were made:
Recommendation to create an ombudsman to assist citizens with regard to remediation projects for contamination that affects drinking water wells – Deleted, with the idea that it was not a legislative solution.
Clarification of PA 490 status for farmland used for wildlife management – The Council decided to drop this recommendation from the priority list for this session. Fernandez suggested, and members agreed, that landowners could try the recommended solution (i.e., certification by a qualified party) and see if the assessors agree with it, without legislation.
Creation of a voluntary reporting system for preserved lands – Members sensed that a state-funded system would not be enacted this year, but that this important concept could be pursued in other ways.
Restrictions on ATVs – The recommendations were affirmed but dropped from the priority list, with the understanding that action might still be required.
Wetlands Training Requirements – After considerable discussion, the Council directed staff to condense these recommendations, and to pursue low-cost options.
The Council then discussed and approved five recommendations to be included in a letter to Governor-elect Malloy.
Review of State Agency Actions
Glastonbury Boat Launch – Chair Wagner and Executive Director Wagener, both residents of Glastonbury, recused themselves from this discussion to avoid the appearance of a possible conflict of interest, and left the room during the discussion. Hearn described the project and read aloud e-mails that had been received from Margaret Miner of the Rivers Alliance about the need for an environmental assessment of the project, as required by CEPA. The Council approved the draft of a letter to Commissioner Marrella urging that the project be subject to a CEPA review.
Siting Council consultations – No comments were recommended regarding the telecommunications tower in Voluntown. For the telecommunications tower proposed in Branford, the Council approved the recommendation that had been prepared by staff that focused on analysis of scenic impacts; Hall recused herself from consideration and discussion of the issue because she is a resident of Branford. Discussion of the application for a telecommunications tower in Hartland was postponed to the January meeting; Brooks indicated that she would recuse herself from that discussion.
20011 Meeting Schedule
The schedule was approved as presented.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:45 AM.