April 29, 2010

Contact:    Karl Wagener, Executive Director





       HARTFORD    Connecticut residents saw the best air quality in 2009, along with the most bald eagles in the skies and the most piping plovers on coastal beaches, that they had seen in decades.  Progress in preserving farmland saw a dramatic upturn, but the same cannot be said for overall land conservation, quality of the water in rivers and streams, and life in Long Island Sound.  These were the messages in the Council on Environmental Quality’s annual environmental status report submitted today to Governor M. Jodi Rell.

      The report noted that compliance with environmental laws and regulations took a small but negative turn in 2009.

      In submitting the report to Governor Rell, Council Chair Barbara C. Wagner also wrote, “While our first priority is the condition of the air, water, land and wildlife of today and tomorrow, the Council could not resist the urge to look back 40 years to the first Earth Day and the momentous events that followed -- including the public hearings where the overwhelming majority of citizens opposed creation of a Department of Environmental Protection. The introduction of this year's report highlights the successes and incomplete missions of the past 40 years.”

The annual report, Environmental Quality in Connecticut, is a paperless web publication. The CEQ is required by law to submit this comprehensive summary of the state’s progress in protecting and improving the state’s air, water, land and wildlife.

      The Council uses a set of about 30 environmental indicators to track the

state’s yearly progress. Among the changes this year:

  • the Council discovered in 2009 that nobody knows how much land has been permanently preserved in Connecticut by cities, towns and nonprofit organizations, so no longer reports estimates.
  • The amount of land covered in forests is reported, but with a new emphasis on “core forests,” those forests undisturbed by roads and development.  “As one might expect, core forest has been declining faster than the total forest area,” commented Wagner.

Environmental Quality in Connecticut can be viewed in its entirety on the Council’s web site at


The Council is a nine-member board that is independent of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) except for purely administrative functions. The Chair 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.  Established in 1971 alongside the DEP, the CEQ has published dozens of reports on state environmental problems and solutions, and resolved thousands of citizen complaints.