Connecticut could be called “The Nature State.”
HARTFORD – The destructive storms of 2011 brought to light some previously obscure environmental data that say a lot about Connecticut, according to the Council on Environmental Quality. The Council delivered its annual report on the condition of the state’s environment to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday.
As one example, Connecticut now knows that it has the largest portion of land area in a statistical category called the “Wildland-Urban Interface,” which means that in nearly three-quarters of the state, residents live among the forests, the highest percentage among the 50 states.
“And a lot of data show that Connecticut residents enjoy that proximity to nature,” said Council Chair Barbara Wagner. “They watch wildlife and conserve habitat around the home much more than the average American. That activity is economically important, too: Connecticut residents spend an exceptional amount on wildlife watching and related conservation activities.”
Connecticut could “claim the title of the #1 Nature State,” Wagner wrote in her letter to Governor Malloy accompanying the report.
The October snowstorm resulted in “atrocious” air quality, apparently because of emissions from generators, wood stoves and fireplaces. “Northern Connecticut probably saw particle levels over twice the standard that protects human health — a sample of what Connecticut residents would breathe all the time if it were not for the successful air pollution controls that have been put in place in most sectors of the economy,” the report says.
The Council reported modest improvements in drinking water quality, bald eagles and other wildlife, conservation of farmland and inland wetlands, and energy efficiency.
It was not a good year for Long Island Sound, and the report notes that storms reminded Connecticut of how the beaches and water quality of the Sound are affected by the pollution that washes off the surface of developed areas when it rains.
The Council also took a closer look at violations of environmental laws, as it reported that compliance rates had gotten worse. To find out who is violating Connecticut’s environmental laws, the Council examined all 944 Notices of Violation (NOVs) issued by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection last fiscal year. It found that the category of gas stations and convenience stores received the largest number of NOVs. In contrast, only seven percent went to manufacturers with more than 20 employees; more notices went to homeowners and other individuals, the report states.
Wagner said that the lessons of 2011 can help guide the state in creating a better environment. “The need to control water pollution from developed areas and the importance of good land use patterns could not have been made clearer,” Wagner said.
“There were some very positive developments in 2011,” concluded Wagner. “Farmland preservation approached the 2,000-acre threshold that is required if the state is to achieve its preservation goal. Residents continued the trend of using electricity more efficiently at home and at work, which bodes well for the future.”
The Council on Environmental Quality submits Connecticut’s annual report on the status of the environment to the governor pursuant to state statutes. Additional responsibilities of the Council include review of construction projects of other state agencies, publication of the twice-monthly Environmental Monitor, and investigation of citizens’ complaints and allegations of violations of environmental laws. The Council is a nine-member board that is independent of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (except for administrative functions). The chairman and four other members are appointed by the Governor, two members by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and two by the Speaker of the House.
The annual report, Environmental Quality in Connecticut, is available on the Council’s website at www.ct.gov/ceq/AnnualReport .
Link to Full Report: www.ct.gov/ceq/AnnualReport.