2019 CEQ Annual Report

Banner for 2019 Annual Report

About the Council

Council Duties               Council Members               Acknowledgments

Activities of the Council in 2019

Research and Reports

The Council published the Environmental Quality in Connecticut annual report in May, 2019. This year, the Council reformatted its annual report and continued to develop new indicators to assess the ecological health and environmental quality in the State. For the first time in many years, bats and turtles were reorganized into a new page on species of special concern because, unfortunately, no new data or no significant change has occurred regarding their population and/or distribution, which remains precariously low. The inclusion of biological indicators requires considerable care in the selection of appropriate species, and the Council is grateful for the advice it received from experts.

The Council published a report “Fuel for Thought” on the environmental issues associated with releases of Number 2 fuel oil at residential properties in the state. Unfortunately, over the last 10 years, there have been approximately 8,900 reported releases of home heating oil in the state. The Council analyzed DEEP’s spills and response data, assessed the potential for future releases, and identified recommendations that could be employed to: 1) reduce the number of fuel oil releases in the state, and 2) provide a mechanism for homeowners to voluntarily secure insurance that may cover most of the remediation costs of a fuel oil release. 

Advice to Other Agencies

Council staff reviewed six Environmental Impact Evaluations and fourteen scoping notices prepared by other agencies, and submitted comments when deemed appropriate. The regulations for implementation of the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act were revised and adopted on September 9, 2019. These revised regulations were reviewed by the Council and included new categories of public notice in the Environmental Monitor. To implement the revised CEPA Regulations, new categories that were created in Environmental Monitor to better inform the public, including a notice for more time for Post-Scoping Notices, an agency’s Record of Decision, and OPM’s Determination of Adequacy for state projects. A project cancellation notice was added to inform when a project was dropped from active status by a State agency.

The Council commented on several state activities and plans, including the following:

  • PFAS Task Force Draft Action Plan;
  • Draft Revisions to the Remediation Standard Regulations (RSR);
  • DEEP's 20BY20 Initiative; and
  • Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) Docket No. 19-01-25 - PURA 2019 Biennial Report To The General Assembly Concerning Its Review Of Each Electric Distribution Company's Vegetation Management Practices.

The Council also reviewed 14 applications or petitions to the Connecticut Siting Council and commented on six. 

The Council also commented on the potential environmental consequences of utilities’ vegetation management plans, proposals by DEEP to improve efficiency and transparency, a proposed sewer extension in a rural area, DEEP’s proposed revisions to its remediation standards, and the 2019 PFAS Action Plan.

Citizen Concerns and Complaints

State law directs the Council to investigate citizen complaints alleging violation of any statute or regulation in respect to environmental quality. The Council receives weekly inquiries regarding routine matters that are addressed by providing the person who inquired with the correct person or agency to handle the matter. 

Every month the Council discusses the inquiries and complaints of environmental consequence that were presented to the Council by individuals and groups. Many times that leads to special reports, such as the Council’s 2019 report, Fuel For Thought, on the problem of home heating oil spills.

In 2019, staff investigated numerous complaints, including on-going air pollution violations in Stamford, potential soil contamination in Fairfield, leaking heating oil tanks throughout the State, the tree removal policies of utilities, Japanese Knotweed along State highways, PFAS spills into the Farmington River, a demonstration project to deal with agricultural waste in Torrington and the quality of the water in a stretch of the Quinebaug River. 

The Council regularly engages with state agencies including the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Transportation, the Office of Policy and Management, the Department of Agriculture, and others to answer citizen inquiries and resolve complaints. The Council also participates in webinars, meetings, workshops and other outreach activities of State agencies and stakeholder groups to offer information and to stay current on environmental issues.