West Hartford – At the beginning of the 2011 legislative session in January, Environment Connecticut released its legislative agenda identifying its clean energy, clean water and preservation priorities. As the session came to a close at midnight Wednesday, many of those priorities had become law. In addition, Connecticut avoided the deep cuts to state environmental programs seen in other states this year.
At the top of Environment Connecticut’s agenda was passage of a comprehensive clean energy bill following former Governor Rell’s veto of similar legislation in 2010. On Tuesday, June 7, the legislature sent the clean energy bill (SB 1243) to Governor Malloy for his signature. The bill creates a consolidated energy and environmental agency, supports construction of hundreds of megawatts of new renewable energy such as wind and solar, and invests in energy efficiency programs to cut energy use and reduce energy costs.
“The clean energy bill will move our state towards an efficient, affordable, clean energy future,” said Environment Connecticut Program Director, Christopher Phelps. “Its investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency take a big step toward breaking our dependence on unaffordable, polluting energy sources like oil, gas, coal and nuclear power.”
“In addition to the clean energy bill, the 2011 legislative session saw important environmental programs protected. In contrast to too many other states, Governor Malloy and the legislature chose to protect our state parks and forests, maintain investments in clean water infrastructure and, with passage of the clean energy bill, recommit Connecticut to cutting global warming pollution and breaking our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels,” said Phelps.
Just a few of the key environmental successes of the legislative session highlighted by Environment Connecticut include:
- Passage of the clean energy bill.
- Protection of state parks, clean water programs and core environmental enforcement programs from state budget cuts.
- Preservation of funding commitments to open space and farmland protection.
And a note from Eric Hammerling, of Connecticut Forest and Parks Association reads:
Wild night at the Capitol last night, but some significant victories amongst the madness.
We are so pleased at CFPA that the following bills were passed by the Senate (at ~11:20 p.m.) and are heading to the Governor’s desk:
Recreational Liability Reform for Municipalities (H.B. 6557): will afford municipalities and municipal entities like water companies, etc. with protection almost as strong as the protection enjoyed by private landowners (individuals, land trusts, corporations, etc.) on recreational lands;
10 Mill Forest Conservation (H.B. 6263): will keep property taxes low (equivalent to the rate enjoyed by property owners in the P.A. 490 program) for landowners of 14,000 acres of forest who made a 100 year commitment to protect their lands as forest; and
Act Concerning Forestry (H.B. 6157): creates a revolving fund mechanism for DEP to recoup revenues from timber harvests on state lands that will be invested into better forest management planning and implementation.