March 17, 2015
Contact: Karl Wagener, Executive Director
Link to report: www.ct.gov/ceq/AnnualReport
CEQ’S ANNUAL REPORT ON CONNECTICUT’S ENVIRONMENT:
Improvements in Air Quality and Long Island Sound;
Major Worries for Land and Wildlife
HARTFORD – The Council on Environmental Quality released its comprehensive report on the state’s environment for 2014.
The following is from the Council’s letter to Governor Dannel P. Malloy:
“The data show that restoring Connecticut's air and water quality and conserving its land and wildlife are multi-generational jobs that require unwavering financial and regulatory commitments.
Connecticut continued in 2014 to reap the benefits of past commitments and current practices in five notable areas:
- It was the best year in decades for air quality.
- More than 90 percent of Long Island Sound had adequate oxygen levels all year round, equaling 2013's record as the best in decades.
- Residents continued their trend of driving less and taking the bus more often.
- By using less gasoline, Connecticut residents continued their positive trend of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the pollutant that contributes to most of the observable climate change.
- Another path toward fewer emissions: Connecticut residents installed an unprecedented number of solar panels and purchased slightly more electricity from other renewable sources.
A lack of sustained commitment was evident in other indicators:
- Connecticut is so far off the track toward meeting its land conservation goals that success is in serious jeopardy. To get to the mandated goal for state parks, forests and wildlife management areas by 2023, the state will need to preserve more acres every year than it preserved in the last ten years combined. Water quality indicators show the dramatic effect of not preserving fields and forests.
- Some wildlife species, including turtles, are good indicators of ecological conditions. Unfortunately, many show discouraging trends.
- More than 1,200 violations of air, water and other pollution laws were detected by DEEP in 2014. While the Council no longer can assess overall rates of compliance, it is evident that full compliance remains a distant goal.
Connecticut residents set ambitious goals -- most of them decades ago -- for their air, water and wildlife. In some cases, progress slowed just as the goal line seemed within reach. In others (to continue the football analogy) the field turned out to be a lot longer than it seemed initially. In all cases, the Council concludes, progress depends on consistent commitment.”
Council Chair Susan Merrow, a resident of East Haddam, noted that this year’s report adds some new measures, or “environmental indicators,” that help the public to chart the fate of the state’s water and wildlife.
“We added a new indicator that shows the level of dissolved nitrogen in the Sound,” Merrow explained. “This is important because state residents have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to remove nitrogen from sewage treatment discharges, and we had read that in some areas of the country this effort has not always lead to less nitrogen in the waterbody itself. So we plotted the level of dissolved nitrogen in the Sound over ten years and – good news! – the nitrogen has been going down.”
Merrow continued, “We added new data on the status of turtles and cave-dwelling bats, and there the news is not good. In fact, it is terrible, with two more turtle species and four bat species being proposed for listing as endangered, threatened or of special concern.”
The annual report, Environmental Quality in Connecticut, is available on the Council’s website at www.ct.gov/ceq/AnnualReport.
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.