June 28, 2007
Contact: Karl Wagener, Executive Director
CONNECTICUT’S ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRESS IS STALLING;
MANY GOALS WILL NOT BE MET WITHOUT GREATER EFFORT.
HARTFORD – The Council on Environmental Quality released its annual report on the state’s environment today, and said Connecticut residents will not see their environmental goals attained unless there is substantially greater effort put forth.
“We took a hard look at the trends displayed in this report, and we concluded that we simply will not meet most of the goals unless we try harder as a state,” explained Council Chairman Thomas Harrison of Avon. “We will not meet goals for preserving farmland and our green landscape of forests and fields.”
Harrison said that the goal of a cleaner Long Island Sound with adequate oxygen and diverse marine life and was within reach only if the state increased funding for the Clean Water Fund. “Funding dropped off in recent years, and the prospects for the Sound are uncertain,” said Harrison, who also noted that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the Sound a rating of “poor” in a report issued earlier this month.
The report says the bottom line is this: “For decades Connecticut residents have sought clear air, sewage-free waters and a protected green landscape. These goals are in sight. With significantly more effort, Connecticut will succeed. With current effort, it will fail.”
Harrison pointed to the polluted air outside, noting that Thursday would likely be the seventh day this season that Connecticut’s air violated federal health standards. “Unfortunately, on the hottest days, demand for electricity goes way up, old power plants are brought online, and the air gets even worse,” said Harrison.
Harrison explained that the culprits are air conditioning and refrigeration. The Council added a new indicator to its annual report his year to track residents’ consumption of efficient appliances. “We found that most Connecticut residents are still not buying efficient air conditioners and refrigerators, so they are paying for much more electricity than they really need to cool their homes and their food,” Harrison explained. The energy bill adopted this year by the General Assembly contains additional incentives for consumers to buy more efficient appliances, and the Council will track their effectiveness, Harrison said.
The report noted that the air, water and land of New England have been getting measurably warmer, and heavy rains have become more frequent, and these trends are making it more difficult for Connecticut to attain air quality standards, restore Long Island Sound and its marine life, and keep beaches open.
Harrison concluded, “This report describes the symptoms, and we will issue a report with more prescriptions later in the year. Meanwhile, we already know that among the many conditions for success, two stand out: Adequate funding must be in place year in and year out, and future patterns of development must be more harmonious with Connecticut’s natural landscape.”
The report can be viewed on the Council’s web site at www.ct.gov/ceq/AnnualReport.
The report was produced by the Council On Environmental Quality in accord with its statutory obligation to submit to the governor an annual report on the status of Connecticut’s environment. Other responsibilities of the Council include review of state agencies’ construction projects; 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 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.