Minutes of the April 5, 2006 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality, held in the Holcombe Conference Room of 79 Elm Street, Hartford.

PRESENT:  Thomas Harrison (Chairman), Howard Beach, John Mandyck, Earl Phillips, Richard Sherman, Wes Winterbottom, Karl Wagener (Executive Director)

Harrison convened the meeting at 9:15 AM and determined that a quorum was present. 

Sherman made a motion to approve the February 22, 2006 minutes.  Winterbottom seconded the motion, subject to the correction of a typographical error. Approved unanimously.

Executive Director’s Report

Wagener reported that the budget revision, as approved by the Appropriations Committee, would restore the Council’s Environmental Analyst position.  He then reviewed the progress on all five of the bills relating to the Council’s report, “Preserved But Not Protected.”  Members discussed details of the bills, and authorized Wagener to continue working toward the bills’ adoption.

Citizen Complaints

UConn Water Supply – Wagener said the revised water supply plan was being reviewed by the Department of Public Health, and the DEP had recommended approval based on the improvements.  The Fenton River study would be delivered soon to the Office of Policy and Management for probable approval.  The idea of a comparable Willimantic River study was being discussed by various agencies, with no resolution yet.  He said Richard Miller, UConn’s Director of Environmental Policy, had informed him that the pipes connecting the watersheds had been enhanced to allow for more pumping from the Willimantic if the Fenton was in danger of dehydrating again.  Sherman made a motion to formally accept the memo that Wagener had submitted to the Council at the January meeting, as it contained important analysis of the citizens’ concerns. Second by Beach.  Approved unanimously, with Phillips abstaining because of a potential conflict.

Light Pollution – Wagener noted the excellent recent coverage given by the Hartford Courant to the Dark Sky Association.  He said that Leo Smith of that organization had requested that the Council recommend to the DEP that future revisions of the new Comprehensive Wildlife Management Plan include information about the effects of light pollution on wildlife, which are well documented.  Members concurred that it would be a good idea.

Distributed Generation – Wagener referred to the recent news coverage of the state’s plan to subsidize the installation of small generators by companies across the state.  He said that Environment and Human Health, Inc had contacted the Council about the importance of subsidizing only clean generators, not diesels.  The Council asked Wagener to follow this matter, and to see what needed to be done.

Farmington wetlands – After some discussion of the matter, Mandyck suggested that the DEP be invited to a meeting to discuss it, perhaps in May which would be after the first anniversary of the Council’s referral to the DEP.  Members concurred.

Discussion of Annual Report

Members discussed the theme of the report, in light of the fact that most of the indicators showed negative trends in 2005.  Members agreed that the report should present all of the facts, and should be something of a clarion call rather than a mere status report.  Winterbottom suggested adding renewable energy resource indicators in future reports; members agreed.  Sherman said the report, in the analysis of the trends, should emphasize the state’s responsibility, and the report should characterize the problems as ones of funds, politics, etc.  Phillips noted the importance of the changing economy, especially the departure of firms. Members discussed various details, and approved the new bald eagle indicator to replace ospreys, and the new use of federal forestry data to replace the state data that is no longer available.  Members said the effect of budget cuts on data collection by agencies should be mentioned. Wagener said a draft would be circulated for review.

Harrison adjourned the meeting at 11:05.