CEQ: Press Release - Annual Report 2001


June 26, 2002

Council On Environmental Quality Releases Report on Connecticut’s Environmental Trends

HARTFORD – The state Council on Environmental Quality released its annual report on Connecticut’s environment on Wednesday, calling attention to another record-breaking year for open space conservation. "It was a tremendous year for land acquisition. We have 4,000 more acres of parks and forests that we all can enjoy," said Council Chairman Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. of New Canaan. "Land preservation is now one of our greatest environmental success stories."

In the report, the Council also draws attention to the second biggest threat to Connecticut's natural habitats (behind loss of habitat to sprawling land development) -- invasive species of plants and animals that are not native to the area. The Council describes "invasive species" as plants or animals whose introduction causes economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. Non-native invasive species compete for the same space, light and food as native plants and animals, often crowding them out of existence, and upsetting the ecological balance. "The state must be able to respond quickly to keep these invaders under control, and we are just not equipped to do that yet," said Council Chairman Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. of New Canaan. "Purple Loosestrife, an attractive plant with purple flowers, has already ruined many acres of wetlands, and the battle becomes more difficult when, as in this case, the species is well-established."

In previous reports, the Council concluded that mercury and MTBE in the environment could have negative effects on human health. Important mercury legislation was adopted in 2002. MTBE is supposed to be eliminated from gasoline by October 2003, but the Council reports that the Department of Environmental Protection has said this deadline will be very difficult to meet.

The Council notes that the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act, which is the law that requires state agencies to produce environmental impact evaluations before beginning capital projects, still needs improvement, even though the legislature made some very positive changes to the Act earlier this year.

Indicators Show More Positive Trends Than Negative

The Council reports on 27 important indicators that it monitors annually in order to assess the condition of the state’s air, water, land and wildlife. Only a few indicators showed unfavorable or static trends. As always, these will receive additional attention from the Council in the months ahead, the report says. One new indicator shows the increasing rate of breast cancer incidence in Connecticut, which has the highest rate among the fifty states. "We believe that certain diseases which may be linked to environmental causes deserve the state's full attention," said O'Brien. "The long-term trend for breast cancer in our state is startling." Other trends are:

  • An indicator called "Seafood Sampler" shows that the majority of fish species in Long Island Sound showed above-average populations in 2001.
  • The state’s drinking water quality declined, primarily because one large system had problems that persisted for approximately three months.
  • Beach closings were down in 2001, which is attributed to last year’s relatively dry summer.
  • The water quality of rivers improved, though the fish in all waterways remain contaminated with mercury.

The report is being delivered to Governor John G. Rowland and the General Assembly.

Copies of the report are available at no charge from the Council on Environmental Quality, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106; phone: 860-424-4000; Fax: 860-424-4070; E-mail: karl.wagener@po.state.ct.us.

The Council is a nine-member board, independent of the Department of Environmental Protection, that advises the Governor and state agencies on environmental matters. Members, who serve without compensation, are appointed by the Governor, Speaker of the House, and President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

Content Last Modified on 9/20/2002 2:55:20 PM