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Report: Connecticut Fails to Protect Air, Water

Pollution is creating more dead zones in Long Island Sound. (Ryssby/Wikimedia Commons)
Pollution is creating more dead zones in Long Island Sound. (Ryssby/Wikimedia Commons)
April 24, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. – Efforts to protect Connecticut's air and waterways have stalled – and in some cases, regressed – according to a new report.

The annual report of the independent Council on Environmental Quality reveals downward trends in areas that affect public health, a decline in open space and wildlife habitat, and more dead zones in Long Island Sound.

But according to Lori Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is now stretched so thin that its monitoring and enforcement activities have been cut by half.

"We passed all these great laws,” Brown states. “Legislators think the job is done – and yet, the state's independent, science-based evaluation is that things are absolutely not going in the right direction."

The report shows an urgent need for Connecticut to step up its efforts to protect air, water, land, wildlife and the climate.

Brown notes that lawmakers often view spending on environmental protection as discretionary. And she maintains that, to some extent, the anti-environmental atmosphere in the nation's capital is being reflected here in Connecticut.

"There are groups and industry interests that would like to see a lot of our environmental protections go away under the name of 'doing better for business,'” she states. “And I don't think people vote for that. I think we expect better."

Environmental groups are asking state lawmakers to make critical investments in preserving open space, controlling invasive species and monitoring pesticides, water and air quality.

But Brown points out that the Council on Environmental Quality itself is on the legislative chopping block.

"In fact, it's been eliminated out of the current proposed budget altogether,” she points out. “Not just the funding, they have whacked it out of state law. And that would be an absolute travesty."

Brown adds with cuts to the EPA and restrictions on access to national databases at the federal level, her organization stresses the council and its work is more important than ever.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT