Council on Environmental Quality Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the November 15, 2023, meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality (Council) held via Zoom.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Keith Ainsworth (Acting Chair), Kip Kolesinskas, Charles Vidich, Alicea Charamut, Christopher Donnelly, Denise Rodosevich, and David Kalafa.

ALSO IN ATTENDANCE: Paul Aresta (Executive Director), Nicholas Velseboer (Environmental Analyst), Jordan Herpich (Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)), Eric Hammerling (DEEP), Bruce Wittchen (Office of Policy and Management (OPM)), and Justine Phillips-Gallucci (OPM). Member of the public that spoke: Dr. Zbig Grabowski.

1. Call to Order: Establishment of a Quorum
At 9:30 AM, Ainsworth called the meeting to order, took attendance, and confirmed that there was a quorum of Council members present.

2. Approval of Minutes of October 25, 2023
Vidich made a motion to approve the draft minutes of October 25, 2023; seconded by Charamut. The motion was approved unanimously with Kalafa abstaining because he was not present at the previous meeting.

3. Citizen Comment Period
Eric Hammerling noted that DEEP has been authorized under Public Act 23-204 to study the use and public recreational access to the Batterson Park property, which is owned by the city of Hartford, but located in the city of New Britain and the town of Farmington. He added that the draft study is not available yet, but there will be public information meetings in New Britain, Farmington and Hartford in early December.

Dr. Zbig Grabowski commented on the emerging biomaterials economy in the Northeast United States and noted that there is beginning to be a sustained effort to turn towards natural materials for use in a variety of industrial processes. He added that there is a large potential for change in how Connecticut residents use and manage different agricultural and forestry systems within the region and within the state.

4. Citizen Complaints and Inquiries Received

  • Velseboer reported that the Council received a complaint/inquiry regarding proposed quarry operations in Gales Ferry. He added that the caller wanted to know if an Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE) is required for a project that is within the jurisdiction of the municipality. He stated that Council staff informed the complainant about the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) process and noted that the Council typically does not provide comments regarding local zoning matters.
  • Velseboer reported that the Council received a complaint from a member of the Woodstock Conservation Committee concerning tree clearing activities near a portion of state highway 171 that could negatively affect a brook adjacent to the road. He added that Council staff investigated the area and determined that the tree clearing is not likely to lead to any significant erosion or sedimentation issues in the brook. The complainant was provided information on the Eversource’s vegetation management policy and contact information to file a complaint, if desired.
  • Velseboer reported that the Council received an inquiry from a student at a local university regarding data on environmental quality for various municipalities in Connecticut. He added that Council staff directed the student to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DEEP websites.

5. Executive Director’s Report

  • Velseboer reported that approximately 112 municipalities have responded to the miniature beverage container survey. He added that Council staff plans on making one more follow up call to unresponsive municipalities. Aresta added that the data collection efforts will likely conclude in December.
  • Aresta presented information for several indicators for the 2023 annual report that included the revised percentage of waste diversion and some of the means of waste diversion for 2022; projected electric vehicle (EV) adoption and projected electric demand for EVs; and the addition of aviation fuel to the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from transportation chart. Ainsworth suggested that the Council consider adding a map depicting the location of charging stations in Connecticut to the annual report. Aresta also reviewed enforcement data from the EPA that compares DEEP’s enforcement history to other states in the region and nation.
  • Aresta reviewed the revised list of draft legislative recommendations that aligns with the recommendations included in the 2022 annual report. Aresta noted that Connecticut General Statutes 22a-12 empowers the Council to include ”a program for remedying the deficiencies of existing programs and activities, together with recommendations for legislation” in the annual report. Ainsworth suggested that Council members meet with certain legislators to discuss the Council’s legislative recommendations. Kolesinskas and Vidich supported the concept of meeting with legislators. Charamut agreed that there could be a benefit to meeting with legislators but suggested that high level recommendations with the ability to provide information on the analysis, would also be of high value. Rodosevich suggested that providing more detail to legislators might be more successful in achieving the outcomes from the proposed recommendations. Aresta noted that there is a process for submitting proposed legislative language; however, the deadline for submitting proposed legislation to OPM and the Governor’s Office was due on October 2, and suggested that the Council could consider providing specific legislative language next year. There was general discussion regarding the legislative recommendations and the most effective means of communicating them to legislators.

Rodosevich made a motion to approve the revised legislative recommendations that align with the recommendations in the Council’s annual report with more specificity and suggested language for the protection of 1) wetlands, 2)agricultural land/core forest land, and 3) open space/parks; seconded by Vidich. The motion was approved unanimously.

6. State Agency Actions

  • Release-Based Remediation Program – update
    Aresta summarized the November 14 meeting of the Release-Based Remediation Working Group that included presentations from DEEP on three topics: 1) an alternative cleanup approach for home heating fuel; 2) a permit by rule program to manage soil beneath parking lots, roads, and buildings; and 3) additional exposure criteria for passive recreation and managed residential exposure scenarios. He added that there will be a question-and-answer session about the three presentations on November 28.
  • Proposed General Permit for the Use of Pesticides in State Waters
    Aresta reported that the Pesticides Management Program has drafted a proposed General Permit for the Use of Pesticides in State Waters and is seeking input from stakeholder groups regarding the proposed General Permit. He added that the proposed General Permit is intended to replace the requirement for an individual aquatic pesticide permit for certain eligible aquatic pesticide treatments, and that there will be an additional listening session on November 16.
  • Request For Proposals (RFP) For Offshore Wind and Zero Carbon Energy
    Aresta reported that DEEP released two RFPs for new grid-scale zero carbon electricity resources, including offshore wind and other new zero carbon electricity generating resources. He added that the Council provided comments on the draft RFP for zero-carbon resources, and the final RFP contains more provisions for protection of agricultural soils associated with solar development.

b. Connecticut Siting Council (CSC)

  • Petition 1597 (solar, Winchester) – Comment recommended
    Aresta reported that he reviewed a proposal from Greenskies Clean Energy LLC to construct and operate a 3.74-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) electric generating facility to be located off Spencer Hill Road in Winchester. He summarized the proposed project and the environmental characteristics of the proposed site. Aresta added that draft comments have been developed that address agricultural soils, visibility, and wildlife. Vidich and Kolesinskas noted that the proposed project could have a significant impact on agricultural soils.

    Vidich made a motion to approve the draft comments for CSC Petition 1597 with additional emphasis on the importance of farmland soils; seconded by Kalafa. Aresta noted that the Petition filing did include a letter from the Department of Agriculture with specific requirements, including agricultural co-use, research, and soil surveys. The motion was approved unanimously.
  • Petition 1596 (solar, Torrington) - No comments recommended at this time
    Aresta reported that he reviewed a proposal from USS Torrington Solar LLC to construct and operate a 1.99-MW ground-mounted solar PV project to be located on a portion of the closed Torrington Landfill in Torrington. He summarized the proposed project and the environmental characteristics of the proposed site.
  • Docket 519 (telecom, East Windsor) - No comments recommended at this time
    Aresta reported that he reviewed a proposal from Verizon Wireless to construct and operate a 120-foot monopole telecommunications facility and a 50-foot x 50-foot fenced compound at 11 Chamberlain Road in East Windsor. He summarized the proposed project and the environmental characteristics of the proposed site.

7. Other Business
Aresta noted that the next meeting will be on December 13, and it will be an in-person / hybrid meeting. Ainsworth noted that it will be the last meeting for Council members Charamut and Kolesinskas .

Ainsworth asked if there were any other items for discussion by Council members.

Velseboer reported that he accepted a position with DEEP Fisheries. There was general discussion regarding refilling the staff position and vacancies on the Council.

Vidich made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 11:22 AM; seconded by Rodosevich. The motion was approved unanimously.

A recording of this meeting is available here1 and by email request of the Council (email to: (Disclaimer: The transcript associated with the meeting recording is computer-generated and may contain typos that have not been edited.)

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