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Good News and Bad News From Environmental Watchdog

November 16, 2011

HARTFORD, Conn. - Support for environmental issues is waning among members of the Connecticut General Assembly, according to a watchdog group's annual scorecard released Tuesday, but the downward trend is not enough to seriously undermine the state's record as an environmental leader.

Lori Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, which conducted the survey, says many of the bills her group opposed ended up not passing, including one which would have allowed automatic approval of environmental permits if they weren't approved within 45 days.

"We're all trying to get to the same point, but let's do it, be more efficient and more transparent and predictable, but don't throw out and weaken the most important environmental laws to do that. You can have both."

She says 38 lawmakers from both parties got perfect scores this year, but 34 received failing grades -- more than in 2008, 2009 and 2010 combined.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will try to clear the bottleneck of long-delayed permits, Brown said, in order to enhance Connecticut's business climate.

"It will still be a primary focus and mandate of the DEEP to find ways to streamline in a way that does not degrade environmental protections."

It's no surprise, she says, that both Republicans and Democrats voted in favor of the League's issues.

"The League of Conservation Voters absolutely believes there are good environmental advocates on both sides of the aisle. Our mission really is to find them, help them understand the issues, and be leaders in their caucuses."

The report notes that Connecticut was one of the few states to preserve funding this year for clean-water projects, open space and farmland preservation. After a long battle, environmentalists also were able to save the endangered Council on Environmental Quality.

The scorecard is online at ctlev.org.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT