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An Environmental Take on the 2014 Legislative Session

From clean energy and open space to transit funding and fracking waste, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment offers its take on how legislators did.

The Preserve, a 1,000-acre property, will be conserved thanks to $2 million in state funding. Credit: CT House Democrats
The Preserve, a 1,000-acre property, will be conserved thanks to $2 million in state funding. Credit: CT House Democrats

Connecticut's leading environmental organization says the 2014 Legislative Session served up a "mixed bag" of laws.

An end-of-session response from Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE) and its program Save the Sound is available on the organization’s blog, with quotes, outcomes, and links to bill analyses for a number of legislative issues including:

  • Methane and clean energy
  • Fracking waste
  • Land conservation and protection of trees
  • Comprehensive planning for Long Island Sound
  • Transit funding
  • Harmful bills that were defeated

Below are snippets from the full response, by category:

Land

“As a stopover for migratory birds, a purifier of drinking water, a refuge for bobcats and rare amphibians, The Preserve is a unique and priceless opportunity,” said Chris Cryder, special projects coordinator, praising $2 million in state funding to conserve the 1,000-acre property.

A bill to regulate excessive removal of healthy trees by Connecticut utilities passed. Roger Reynolds, legal director for CFE, said, “We must remain vigilant. If municipalities, tree wardens, and residents are not vocal, the utilities will continue to overcut in a way that optimizes their bottom line rather than infrastructure or tree protection.” 

Air

“It is essential to prevent additional greenhouse emissions from leaky natural gas pipes and equipment, especially those that cost ratepayers money for gas that never even reaches their homes,” says Lauren Savidge, CFE staff attorney, of a successful bill to incentivize repair of methane leaks.

Savidge highlighted two items in a large energy bill, saying, “Recycling is the only long term sustainable way to handle Connecticut’s solid waste and this bill puts us on a solid track,” and noting that “Microgrids clean our air by deploying renewable energy projects and make our communities more energy resilient in the face of major storms.”

Water

Leah Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound, expressed disappointment that the Long Island Sound Blue Plan died in the House after passing the Senate unanimously, calling it “…a critical tool to catalog the Sound’s numerous resources, analyze how they’re currently used, and plan for a healthy, sustainable future.”

Schmalz notes that the final version of S.B. 237 “temporarily keeps toxic fracking waste out of our state, provides time to analyze the rapidly-developing science around its impacts, and partially closes the federal loophole that would otherwise let fracking waste slip through Connecticut’s hazardous waste laws.” Save the Sound believes that a ban on fracking waste is the best way to protect the state’s waters and public health. 

Of a bill establishing a fishery for glass eels, Schmalz said, “It is bad public policy to build a new fishery for a species that has become so depleted that the federal government is considering listing it on the Endangered Species List.”

Other

Karen Burnaska, coordinator of the Transit for Connecticut coalition, noted that “a robust transit network cleans our air and improves quality of life for all state residents.”

Bonding for job-creating infrastructure projects proves that “Protecting the environment and improving Connecticut’s economy go hand-in-hand,” said Schmalz.  

Reynolds called several anti-environmental bills “direct and unsubtle attacks on our public health, safety, and environment by powerful special interests and a potent reminder of the need to be vigilant against those who would put profits above the well-being of our communities.”

The full release with additional bills is available on CFE/Save the Sound’s blog.


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