2021 CEQ Annual Report

About the Council

Council Duties               Council Members               Acknowledgments

Activities of the Council in 2021

Research and Reports

The Council published the 2020 Environmental Quality in Connecticut Annual Report in April 2021. In this year’s Annual Report, the Council expanded its assessment of water quality and included new data and charts on greenhouse gas emissions from large facilities and transportation fuels. There was no new data for forest birds, forest acreage, wetlands and bats and turtles. 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.

In 2021, Public Act 21-58 was enacted to address Connecticut’s beverage container redemption program. Certain provisions of that law addressed many of the Council’s issues highlighted in the Council’s 2020 report Low Deposit, Low Return, which included recommendations to decrease solid waste in the state by capturing redeemables that are now lost to the waste stream. In that special report, the Council recommended a five-cent increase in the deposit fee to raise the redemption rate for beverage containers, expanding the types of beverage containers eligible for a deposit, increasing the handling fee for retailers and redemption centers, and increasing the amount of post-consumer content in materials made and sold in the State and region.  (see Waste Diversion

The Council reiterated the need for training of municipal inland wetland officials/commission members, as required by Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) Section 22a-42(d) and CGS Section 22a-42a(c)(2). The Council again reviewed Connecticut’s inland wetland regulations and analyzed the data provided by municipalities throughout the state. The Council noted that the data reported by municipal inland wetland agencies was not current; lacked specific information regarding direct impacts to wetlands, watercourses, and upland areas; and in some cases – was not provided at all. The Council urged the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to make the training materials available online (which was completed January 10, 2022), to expand the use of in-person training, and to assess the possibility of using electronic submission of the “Activity Reporting Form” to enhance municipal participation and to increase efficiency of the reporting process.

The Council conducted significant research in 2021 to develop a special report on invasive species in Connecticut. The special report, Invasives: Previously Described and Newly Arrived, which was published in 2022, is an update to the 2002 special report by the Council, Great Infestations.

Advice to Other Agencies

Council staff reviewed Environmental Impact Evaluations and scoping notices prepared by other agencies, and submitted comments when deemed appropriate. The Council provided training to several state agencies and updated some of the notice templates to assist state agencies to develop notices for publication in the Environmental Monitor.

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

The Council also commented on five applications for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need and 11 Petitions for Declaratory Ruling to the Connecticut Siting Council.

Public Act 20-9, An Act Revising Provisions of the Transfer Act and Authorizing the Development and Implementation of a Release-Based Remediation Program, stipulated that the Council would be a member of a working group to develop regulations to implement a Release-Based Remediation Program. The Council participated in the working group through the “Tiers” subcommittee and also participated in a team that examined issues related to releases on residential properties. Through the subcommittee and team, the Council was able to advocate for measures that would eliminate or reduce the likelihood of a heating oil spill, consistent with the recommendations identified in the Council’s 2019 report, Fuel for Thought.

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 2020 report Low Deposit, Low Return, on the problem with the State’s beverage container redemption program. The Council was also made aware DEEP’s tree removal activities at Housatonic Meadows State Park from citizens concerned about the removal of certain trees at the Park. 

In 2021, staff investigated numerous complaints, including on-going air pollution violations and potential soil contamination in Stamford, unauthorized camping and vehicle access on state-owned lands; invasive species; flooding; wetland impacts; pesticide applications; ridgeline protection, historic preservation; and water quality. 

The Council regularly engages with state agencies and is appreciative of the assistance provided by the Departments of Energy and Environmental Protection, Public Health, and Transportation; the Office of Policy and Management; 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.