Minutes of the May 21, 2008 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality, held in conference room 6A at 79 Elm St., Hartford.

PRESENT:  Thomas Harrison (Chairman), Bruce Fernandez, Richard Sherman, Norman VanCor, Barbara Wagner, Wesley Winterbottom, Karl Wagener (Executive Director), Peter Hearn (Environmental Analyst).

Chairman Harrison called the meeting to order at 9:13 AM noting the presence of a quorum.

Chairman Harrison asked if there were any suggested revisions, additions or deletions to the minutes of April 23, 2008.  VanCor motioned to approve them as written.  This was seconded by Fernandez.  The motion was approved with Winterbottom abstaining, having been absent at that meeting.  Wagner was not present for the vote. 

Executive Director’s Report

Wagener reported that travel reimbursements are to be expected for Council members. Council members signed a certificate of appreciation to Susan Mendenhall for her years of service to the Council.

He showed a report on the condition of Long Island Sound sent to the Council by Art Glowka, a resident of Stamford.  Glowka would like to meet with Council members to present his conclusion that the Sound clean-up is not on the right track, and places too much emphasis on nitrogen removal.  Chairman Harrison directed Wagener to schedule a meeting and then notify all the Council members so those who are interested may attend. VanCor suggested the DEP be invited also.

The first state land transfer had appeared in the Environmental Monitor in April as newly required by PA 07-213.  There were no comments received from the public, and the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) response was that it had no objections either.  Wagener observed that the law seems not to have anticipated comments of “no comment.”  The DEP response is being treated substantively by the Office of Policy and Management as no comment, and the transfer may proceed. 

Chairman Harrison asked Wagener if he had a legislative update for the Council. Wagener said that despite hopes to the contrary there was little progress made on the environment.  The amount of revenue from lumber sales that can be kept by the DEP was lowered to all receipts in excess of $600,000. However this level will not be reached because there are insufficient foresters to attain this level of sales.  Other recommended positions for the DEP were not authorized.  No progress was made on recycling. The Face of Connecticut Steering Committee was created to apportion funds, but no additional funds were authorized.  Among the actions of the legislative session was adoption of a global warming solutions bill.

Margaret Miner of the Connecticut Rivers Alliance asked to speak from the audience. She stated there were two bills that died in committee which were very important.  One was the Wetlands Enhancement Bill, which had wide support.  The other was the River Buffer Bill.  She expects both to be brought up again next year.  She added that impervious surfaces are so detrimental to the health of waterways that she would like to see this as an environmental indicator in future Council reports.

Wagener added that the Face of Connecticut bill included an amendment reversing the Aspetuck Land Trust Decision. The law makes it clear that a land trust may hold land for preservation purposes and does not have to conduct educational tours to have the property qualify for tax exemption.

Discussion of Annual Report Topics

Winterbottom said the reasons the 50 – 54 age cohort is used in the cancer incidence charts should be explained in the text.  He said it should also be stated that the compliance statistics are only inspections, not self-reporting.  Wagner said the recycling text that goes with the graph is inconclusive.  Chairman Harrison reminded Wagener that some graphs must be printed with higher contrast to be easier to read.  Chairman Harrison asked Wagener for a deadline for any final suggestions from Council members.  Wagener responded that Thursday at 5:00 PM was the latest he could accept revisions.

Chairman Harrison raised the question of how many copies to print and after a discussion it was decided to print the same number as last year.  Chairman Harrison asked for a motion to approve the publication of the report as presented with any minor revisions as needed. Winterbottom made the motion, which was seconded by VanCor, and approved unanimously.

Citizen Complaints

Chairman Harrison asked the two persons in the audience from Canterbury to introduce themselves if they wanted; and invited them to contribute to the discussion if they wished to.  They introduced themselves as Jacqueline Derouchers and Carolyn Noiseux.  They had come to voice their concern about the location and procedures surrounding the siting of the proposed pump house for the Plainfield Renewable Energy Facility.  Wagener provided the Council with background on this project and the apparent failures in the process of providing adequate public notice and responding properly to public questions, and referred to a draft letter to the Siting Council he had prepared for discussion.  After a discussion about the details of the complaint, Chairman Harrison recommended a revised letter be drafted to the Siting Council expressing the Council’s concern about the following issues:

  • Questions from citizens regarding the Siting Council procedures were not answered by the Siting Council and were referred to the petitioner. The petitioner’s attorney’s response contained incorrect and misleading information. The citizen’s questions remain unanswered today.
  • The Council would request answers to questions about the notice policy as it pertains to secondary structures such as the one in question.
  • The motion to reopen the docket for the limited purpose of examining the location of the pumping/intake structure.

Margaret Miner added that the law that allows a petition in lieu of a formal application for these small (less than 75 megawatts) power plants is bad for small streams and rivers and a fuller examination of the effect of these plants on water flow and thermal discharges is needed.  VanCor motioned that the Council send such a letter to the Siting Council and Winterbottom seconded.  Wagner said the draft should be circulated to the Council before being sent.  Wagener said it could be done next week.

Wagener updated the Council on the Kleen Energy complaint.  He said that the DEP had issued a notice of violation and the company must respond to it.

State Agency Actions

The Council had received an EIE for a road infrastructure project in Oxford for which staff recommended no comments.

Wagener reported that the DEP’s policy on land swaps was nearing completion.  He had attended a meeting with the DEP to state the Council’s view on several points.  At that meeting he told the DEP representatives that the Council’s comments were all aimed at ensuring that negotiations about transfers be open and transparent.

Chairman Harrison asked if there was any further business and then adjourned the meeting at 10:40 AM.