April 10, 2013
Contact: Karl Wagener, Executive Director
Link to Full Report: www.ct.gov/ceq/AnnualReport
COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY RELEASES “ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY IN CONNECTICUT” FOR 2012
HARTFORD – The state Council on Environmental Quality reviewed environmental data for 2012 and concluded that the indicators used to measure Connecticut’s environmental health did not show many signs of improvement.
The Council delivered its annual report on the condition of the state’s environment to Governor Dannel P. Malloy last week, noting that this document marks the 40th anniversary of the Council’s inaugural report.
“Connecticut’s environment is resistant to improvement,” the report begins, highlighting a consistent trend of recent years. This year, the short-term indicators pointed to more declines than improvements.
The Council’s report, Environmental Quality in Connecticut, presents long-term and short-term trends for about 30 indicators. Regarding the short-term changes, the report says, “In light of Connecticut's persistent efforts to control pollution and manage its resources, some of the declines of 2012 are particularly frustrating”:
more bad air days (that is, days when the air over some or all of the state does not meet standards set to protect human health),
more widespread hypoxia (insufficient oxygen) in Long Island Sound,
land conservation results that fell short of Connecticut’s long-term goal.
Shoreline beaches were closed for fewer days in 2012 than in 2011, but the number of closings in 2012 still was well above the long-term average.
Public drinking water improved, with 99.8 percent of all water piped to customers (2.8 million people) meeting health standards. That percentage was 99.7 in the previous year. The potential to improve further actually is limited because Connecticut has excelled in protecting public drinking water for many years. The report notes that Connecticut is among the very best states in delivering safe drinking water to customers of public water systems.
Two "personal impact" indicators -- miles driven and bus trips taken by the average resident -- improved.
This year’s report also calls attention to changes in Long Island Sound: sea level is rising at a faster rate, the water is warming, and southern species of fish are moving in as colder-water species move out. The Council says that the state needs to pay attention to the gradual changes, as gradual changes can become sudden changes.
The report also notes that many of the persistent problems in Connecticut’s environment, including summertime air pollution and low oxygen levels in the Sound, are made worse by a warming climate.
The Council makes recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly separately from this annual status report. Nonetheless, the Council suggests in this report that, “The key ingredients of a cleaner Connecticut are relatively simple and few in number:
more efficient and technologically-advanced heating and cooling equipment and vehicles,
investment in the basics of sewage treatment, land conservation, parks and other essential services,
better patterns of land development and transportation, including a strategy for dealing with the rising Sound, and
restoration of rivers, wetlands, parks, trails and greenways by state and local governments as well as nonprofit organizations and heroic individuals.”
This year’s report is designed to be read online and features several innovations including interactive graphs and a summary page, “2012 at a Glance.” Some additional data for 2012 are expected in the weeks ahead, and readers are encouraged to sign up through the Council’s website to receive notices as the report is updated.
The Council on Environmental Quality submits Connecticut’s annual report on the status of the environment to the Governor pursuant to state statutes. Additional responsibilities of the Council include review of construction projects of other state agencies, publication of the twice-monthly Environmental Monitor, and investigation of citizens’ complaints and allegations of violations of environmental laws. The Council is a nine-member board that is independent of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (except for administrative functions). The chairman and four other members are appointed by the Governor, two members by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and two by the Speaker of the House.
The annual report, Environmental Quality in Connecticut, is available on the Council’s website at www.ct.gov/ceq/AnnualReport.