Hartford, CT- The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV), a bipartisan environmental legislative watchdog, has just released its annual Environmental Scorecard. The Scorecard evaluates how members of Connecticut's state legislature performed on the most important environmental bills of 2016.
According to CTLCV, all Connecticut Legislators say they are in favor of protecting the natural environment. But are they?
The Scorecard shows the votes that were scored and explains bills that really mattered for the environment this year. Equally important, the Scorecard exposes legislators whose maneuverings quietly killed good bills or who tried to dismantle important laws we count on to protect our public water supply, our open spaces, and prevent exposure to toxic chemicals.
Connecticut it also has its share of legislative champions who fought very hard against efforts to weaken environmental protections. In a legislative session dominated by fiscal woes and disputes, our champions managed to push through critical legislation that safeguards our land, air, and water for the benefit of our entire state. A special section of this year's scorecard is dedicated to legislators who took leadership on one or more key environmental issues this year.
"To enact good environmental laws, we need good people at the state legislature to fight for us," said Lori Brown, CTLCV Executive Director. "The Scorecard is our best tool for giving credit where it is due. This year's Scorecard reflects some very hard-fought wins, and we owe thanks to our champions in both chambers."
A major victory this year was passage of a bill calling for a state referendum to better protect state-owned lands. Another big win resulted in better protections for habitat that supports important pollinators and restricts the use of certain pesticides that are especially lethal to them. These and other statewide successes are shared by every community in Connecticut.
Pro-environment legislation that did not pass this year sought to protect our public water supply against the extractive water bottling industry. That battle is expected to continue next session along other efforts that were derailed, such as an initiative to ban toxic flame retardant chemicals in children's clothing, and enacting a ban on single-use plastic bags.
THE BUDGET IMPACT
By and large, funding for environmental programs was reduced. But for some key programs, such as the clean water fund, cuts were not extreme.
The most serious damage to environmental protection in Connecticut is caused by recurring budget cuts to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). DEEP is having difficulty meeting its core mission and responsibilities, and this year's cuts make the problems worse: help to towns and cities on wetlands issues no longer exists. Oversight of pesticide application is now only paperwork, not verified in the field. Monitoring of sewage treatment plants and hazardous waste has been greatly reduced, leaving uncertainties about how serious problems may be. Public parks are ever under threat of closure and disrepair. And non-compliance with environmental laws is increasing, apparently because no one is watching.
The public may learn more about the 2016 session, view the Scorecard, and track the progress of legislators regarding environmental issues next session by visiting www.ctlcv.org, or by calling the League at 860-236-5442.