CEQ: July 27, 2005 Press Release

NEWS RELEASE

July 27, 2005

Contact:  Karl Wagener, Executive Director

              860-424-4000


ANNUAL ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT:

 IMPROVEMENTS TO AIR AND LONG ISLAND SOUND IN 2004;

 LONG-TERM PROGRESS IS SLOW 

HARTFORD – Connecticut’s air continued a four-year winning streak in 2004, and three coastal indicators showed progress.  Overall,  however, the state’s environmental progress continued at a snail’s pace, according to the Council on Environmental Quality.  The Council delivered its annual report to Governor M. Jodi Rell this week.

“I’m happy to be able to report measurable gains in the conservation and improvement of Long Island Sound,” said Thomas Harrison, a resident of Avon who is Chairman of the Council.

“The acreage of shellfish beds open for harvesting increased substantially in 2004, and the number of piping plovers nesting on Connecticut’s beaches continued a four-year expansion,” said Harrison.  The piping plover is a threatened shorebird that shares beach habitat with other coastal wildlife.

“Also, the amount of nitrogen being discharged to Long Island Sound from sewage treatment plants and other sources was reduced to levels even beyond the state’s goal for 2004.” said Harrison.  Harrison explained that this is important to the future of the Sound, as nitrogen is a major cause of low oxygen in the Sound’s depths in summer months.

Susan Mendenhall, a Council Member and the Mayor of Ledyard, reported that the state’s “leading environmental indicators” did not show much improvement in 2004.  These leading indicators track Connecticut residents’ actions that will affect tomorrow’s environment, rather than current conditions of air and water.

“Recycling is down, bus ridership is down, and compliance with environmental laws hovers around 89 percent, which is where it was in 1996,” said Mendenhall.  Mendenhall said the Council had in 1998 recommended setting a state goal of full compliance.

“Connecticut needs to boost recycling soon,” said Mendenhall.  “Because we failed to hit our year 2000 target, we now must truck hundreds of thousands of tons per year to landfills in other states, and this surely has an impact.”

Council Member Earl W. Phillips, Jr.,  a resident of Middle Haddam, said that the conservation and development of Connecticut’s landscape remains the state’s biggest environmental challenge.

 “We are falling behind in our efforts to preserve open space and farmland, in relation to our goals,” said Phillips.  “But beyond that, we know that residents are interested in the benefits and impacts of development, and the challenges of identifying and ensuring smart growth.  At this point we don’t have a good numerical measure, but we’re working on it.”

Phillips concluded by noting that Senate Bill 410, to which the General Assembly gave overwhelming support and which Governor Rell signed earlier this month, will provide a much-needed reliable source of funds for open space grants and farmland conservation in future years.

Copies of the report are available for free from the Council on Environmental Quality at 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106. [e-mail: karl.wagener@po.state.ct.us]

END


Content Last Modified on 7/26/2005 5:32:00 PM