Connecticut 2015 Legislative Session a Mixed Bag for the Environment

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Statement of Environment Connecticut State Director, Chris Phelps

Environment Connecticut

Hartford, CT –The Connecticut General Assembly 2015 session adjourned at midnight on Wednesday June 3, 2015. Some significant environmental bills were sent to Governor Malloy for his signature this session, while others failed to pass both chambers before the midnight Wednesday deadline. Environment Connecticut State Director, Chris Phelps released the following statement on some of the high and low points for Connecticut’s environment from the legislative session:

“Governor Malloy’s initiative to get 40 thousand solar homes in Connecticut and the Long Island Sound Blue Plan are two big environmental victories in 2015.”

“The governor’s solar bill, HB 6838, will help over 40 thousand families control their energy bills and cut pollution by putting solar power on their roofs. This continues the dramatic growth in solar power that Connecticut has seen since 2011. Over the past few years, solar has grown in the state by nearly 50% annually. If that pace of growth continues, within a decade Connecticut could get as much as 20% of its energy from clean, secure, homegrown solar power. The governor’s residential solar bill is a big step towards making that happen.”

“Long Island Sound is a big part of what makes Connecticut a special place. But its health is threatened. Passage of HB 6839, the ‘Blue Plan’ creates a long-term framework for strategically managing uses of the Sound to ensure protections for its waters, habitats, and fragile ecosystems.”

“Unfortunately, other important bills that would have improved Connecticut’s environment died during the session. Legislation to support growth in the electric vehicle market, phase out single-use plastic bags, and to ban personal care products containing plastic microbeads all failed to get a vote in the final ours of the legislative session.”

“The failure to ban single-use plastic shopping bags was probably our biggest disappointment during this legislative session. The co-chairs of the legislature’s Environment Committee, Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. and State Representative James Albis led the charge on this legislation to phase out one of the most significant sources of plastic pollution in our waterways. Over the next year, we plan to work with local activists, municipal officials, and legislators to get a statewide plastic bag ban enacted in 2016.”

“HB 7009 would have helped improve the infrastructure and regulatory systems in Connecticut to support sales and use of more electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. In combination with Governor Malloy’s recently announced ‘CHEAPR’ electric vehicle consumer incentive program, HB 7009 would have helped put Connecticut on track to meeting its goal of getting 100 thousand zero-emission vehicles on the road within a decade.”

“Plastic microbeads are another significant source of pollution in our waters. Contained in cosmetic and personal care products, microbeads get washed down the drain and accumulate in our waterways threatening aquatic life and public health. HB 5286 would have required the industry to phase out use of microbeads in Connecticut. Unfortunately, the State Senate failed to act on the bill before adjourning.”