Letter               Progress & Problems
Invasions               New in this Edition

May 29, 2019tree image

The Honorable Ned Lamont
Governor of Connecticut
State Capitol
Hartford, CT 06106 

Dear Governor Lamont: 

I am pleased to submit Connecticut's forty-seventh Annual Report to the Governor. In accordance with CGS 22a-12, this report describes environmental conditions for the 2018 calendar year. The report is best read as an on-line document on the Council’s website.

In any year, specific measures of environmental health may vary from their long-term trend. Consequently, each of the report's indicators is best considered in the context of its trend. The Report is frank about Connecticut’s progress and its remaining challenges. It identifies areas where Connecticut will not meet its stated goals without a significant increase in effort and resources. 

The programs and policies, set out many years ago, have resulted in significant environmental improvements, many quite dramatic. Bald Eagles and Piping Plovers have made a remarkable comeback, due to human interventions to improve their habitats. Air quality has greatly improved and per-capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are on track to meet the state’s short term goal. If similar focus and effort are applied to the formidable environmental challenges ahead, there is reason to be optimistic about future success.

Two of the State’s most formidable challenges are developing climate resiliency and accomplishing its long-established land conservation goals. These two challenges are intertwined. Preservation of open space, forests and farmland will increase climate resiliency by sequestering CO2, reducing surface runoff, limiting flooding, increasing cooling through evaporation and transpiration, and abating sprawl. Needless to say, numerous wildlife benefits result from land preservation. As of 2018, annual public investment in the acquisition of open space and farmland has been insufficient to achieve Connecticut’s preservation goals. The agencies charged with advancing conservation and environmental protection are performing those functions at staffing levels which are a fraction of their prior strength. 

Perhaps the greatest threat to the state’s environmental health is not measureable over time, as are the environmental indicators in this Report. It is the proposal to strip the Draft State Water Plan of reference in its introduction to the long established principle that water is a public trust to be managed for the public good. That principle is enshrined in statute and common law. It is foundational to the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act, and consequently, to all environmental regulation. Its inclusion in the State’s water planning policies is appropriate; its exclusion is a reversal that is fraught with risk. 

To expedite reviewing the report's environmental indicators, quick summary boxes above the data are provided. 

As always, the Council looks forward to providing you with any additional information you might request.

Respectfully submitted, 

Susan D. Merrow
Council on Environmental Quality