Energy and Environment

Long Island Sound Stewardship

WHY IT MATTERS…

The beauty, health and vitality of Long Island Sound are vital to the economic health and vitality of Connecticut, making Connecticut a great place to live, work and play. Ninety-five percent of the Connecticut population – and ten percent of the U.S. population – lives within fifty miles of Long Island Sound, and Connecticut has 332 miles of coastline, with more than 1,000 miles of coastal waterways. The Sound is a $7 billion economic engine for Connecticut contributing nearly 40,000 jobs to the state, in tourism, commercial fisheries, and critical industries like Electric Boat. The Sound is the crown jewel of Connecticut tourism and outdoor recreation, with approximately 3.5 million state parks visitors per year at the state’s shoreline beaches – Sherwood Island, Silver Sands, Hammonassett, Rocky Neck – in addition to countless more who visit our 70+ town beaches. On the water, we have 500,000 registered recreational boaters, and more than 200,000+ recreational saltwater anglers make over 1 million fishing trips each year. Long Island Sound also supports sensitive ecosystems, critical habitat, and contributes immeasurably to the aesthetic beauty and classic New England character of our coastal towns.

Despite the good work that’s been done in recent years, the Sound is still threatened by nutrient pollution which leads to hypoxia and “dead zones” In which marine life is compromised In addition, Connecticut residents shouldn’t have to worry about whether it’s safe to swim or fish in Long Island Sound. We must be committed to improving and maintaining the long-term health of the Sound.

WHAT WE’VE DONE…

— authorized over $1.6 billion for the Clean Water Fund in the FY2012/2013 and FY2014/2015 biennium budgets, which will primarily be used to protect the Sound and other waters of the state from pollution, by addressing sewer overflows and upgrading wastewater treatment facilities (Note: approximately 10% [check this] of the authorized funds are used to upgrade drinking water systems). Over the last 4 years, the state bond commission has allocated over $1 billion for Clean Water Fund projects throughout the state, which supported over 10,000 jobs.

— created a Port Authority to coordinate commercial and tourism opportunities in and near Long Island Sound.

— launched the Connecticut Institute for Resiliency and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) to research, develop and implement best practices that can strengthen our coastal and inland waterway communities.

— established the “Shore Up CT” loan fund for homeowners and businesses to become more resilient against more menacing storms.

— invested in our state park infrastructure, with major projects at our coastal beaches (Sherwood Island and Hammonassett) marking the Parks Centennial year.

— brought together state, federal, local, and private funding to preserve “The Preserve”, a unique 1000 acres of coastal forest habitat critical to the coastal ecosystem.

WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO…

Establish a $20 million Long Island Sound Stewardship and Resiliency Fund that will: (a) fund the protection of coastal marshes and other natural buffer areas that help improve coastal resiliency by absorbing storm surge, reduce and absorb pollution and runoff from urban and suburban areas, and serve as critical wildlife habitat (Note: Recent research shows that every 2.5 acres of Connecticut’s coastal wetlands prevents about $28,500 in storm-related damage each year); and (b) fund improvements to improve the resiliency of local sewage treatment plants and other major sources of potential pollution, so as to ensure our continued progress in combatting hypoxia and keeping nitrogen out of the Sound. (Note: In the last legislation session, we authorized DEEP to use clean water fund dollars to help municipalities plan for improvements to the resiliency of their sewage treatment plants. This proposal would provide funds to assist municipalities in implementing those plans.)

Create a $20 million Green Infrastructure Fund to support a municipal grant program encouraging low impact “green” design and development such as pervious pavement, tree boxes, roof gardens, and green infrastructure (rain gardens, bio-swales, streetscapes, stream bank restoration, etc.) that reduce stormwater runoff and address persistent flooding problems. While the LIS Stewardship and Resiliency Fund will help combat point-source pollution, the Green Infrastructure Fund will help combat the non-point-source pollution that comes from runoff. The Green Infrastructure Fund will also help fund the creation of natural spaces in urban and suburban areas that can absorb runoff before it is carried to rivers and eventually flows down to the Sound.

Incorporate best-practices in low-impact “green” design into state projects. Complementing the local projects supported by the Green Infrastructure Fund, we will ensure that state-funded projects incorporate best practices in low-impact/green-impact design and ensure that projects funded by the CT Department of Transportation, Department of Housing, and DECD take into account the importance of reducing stormwater runoff.

Support The Nature Conservancy’s “Blue Plan” for the working Sound, committing the state to strategic planning for the multiple uses of the Sound. Long Island Sound is a working waterbody that needs careful, coordinated planning to make sure that appropriate activities are happening in appropriate places, avoids conflicting uses, and enhances commercial and recreational opportunities while protecting the ecological health of the Sound. The Office of Policy and Management, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Transportation will be tasked with supporting and providing staff resources to the “Blue Plan” planning effort.

Continue to lead the region in reducing nitrogen and combatting hypoxia/dead zones in Long Island Sound. In 2000, Connecticut and New York set a goal of reducing nitrogen to Long Island Sound by 58.5% within 15 years. As a result of investments we’ve made over the past few years in sewage treatment plant upgrades and an innovative nitrogen trading program, Connecticut has already met its goal and New York should meet its goal soon. It’s time now to look ahead to the next decade and continue to be leaders in nitrogen reduction through implementation of best practices in stormwater management, low impact development techniques, nonpoint source pollution controls, and innovative methods for removing nitrogen from the Sound (e.g., seaweed farming). At the same time, we will work with New York and the upper Connecticut River states to make sure that they are doing their part, and we will continue our national efforts to reduce air pollution (e.g., NOx) from upwind, out-of-state sources, in order to reduce atmospheric deposition of nitrogen to Long Island Sound.

Additional Open Space Preservation

WHY IT MATTERS…

CT is blessed with amazing natural spaces, often within a short drive of our vibrant urban areas. We have eight million visitors to our state parks each year, 750,000 recreational anglers, 250,000 acres of state parks and forests, and 240,000 acres of utility company, land trust and municipal open space lands. We have a vibrant network of local land trusts. Outdoor recreation and tourism is an economic engine for Connecticut, supporting jobs and commercial activity such as the purchase of gear, food and lodging that supports recreation. Our ecosystems, habitat and the aesthetic beauty of our natural areas are an essential part of the character of our state. But we need continued vigilance and investment in open space preservation to ensure that Connecticut remains a wonderful place to live and work.

WHAT WE’VE DONE…

Since 2011, DEEP, municipalities, local land trusts, and other partners have acquired or permanently protected nearly 5,500 acres of open space. In the Capital Budget for FY2014/2015, we authorized $40m for land acquisition — $10m each year for the open space and watershed grant program, and $10m each year for state acquisitions under the recreation and natural heritage trust program.

By making available the open space and watershed grant program annually, we leverage at least $1 in private or federal funds for every $1 of state funds awarded through the program. Over the last 3 years, we have granted $13.8m to 40 communities across the state to protect over 4,000 acres as open space. [Will have more to add on the current grant round by mid- or late-September]

Over the past 3 years, the state has purchased over 1,400 acres in 22 communities across the state, using $9.7m in state, federal and other dollars. We’ve also allocated $5m in state bond funds to the recreation and natural heritage trust program, which will allow DEEP to continue to purchase thousands more acres of recreation and natural heritage lands, including ones that provide access to lakes and rivers (potential sites of future boat launches), and fill in gaps in forest and wildlife management area holdings, plus complete trails.

We’ve brought together state, federal, local, and private funding to preserve “The Preserve”, a unique contiguous 1000 acres of coastal forest habitat.

The Governor authorized $60 million for investments in state park infrastructure during the Parks Centennial year.

The NU/Nstar merger included creation of the Northeast Utilities Land Trust, which was launched with the donation of 4 important parcels totaling nearly 1,000 acres. The merger also included the continuation of a MOU to ensure state, municipalities, and local land trusts have the right of first refusal on thousands of additional acres of NU properties before they can be privately sold.

And, to further protect valuable lands, the Governor signed a law that commits the State to develop a publicly available Public Use & Benefit Land Registry – a GIS database that will provide information on protected lands held by DEEP, other state agencies, municipalities, land trusts, and water companies.

WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO…

Expand funding for open space and watershed grant program and for DEEP’s purchase of recreation and natural heritage areas. We plan to increase annual funding for these two critical programs to $7.5m annually.

Establish a new $5m Local Trailway Fund to provide funds to towns and cities for the creation, improvement or extension of linear trails and greenways in urban and suburban areas. Multi-use trails and greenways present great opportunities to encourage citizens of all ages to enjoy our outdoor spaces in their neighborhoods, and can complement projects already underway — as many towns and cities pursue the redevelopment of former mill sites along rivers.

Energy Infrastructure

WHY IT MATTERS…

High energy costs inhibit economic development, job growth and retention for businesses and stress the budgets of families. For example, during the harsh winter of the 2013, New England experienced energy costs of $5 billion which was $3 billion more than previous winters. These costs were borne by Connecticut’s families and small businesses. While we’ve made progress in promoting cleaner, cheaper, more reliable energy, we need to move away from dirty fuels such as coal and oil fired power plants that produce greenhouse gas emissions and create unhealthy environments in our cities and towns. Energy and environment, climate change and cleaner energy…all are integral to moving Connecticut forward.

WHAT WE’VE DONE…

Created Connecticut’s first Comprehensive Energy Strategy, created First in the Nation Green Energy Bank and created first agency focused solely on integrating energy and environmental policy and oversight (DEEP).

Ramped up deployment of in-state clean energy including solar installation by over 1000% since the Governor took office.

Doubled funding to help homeowners and businesses make energy efficiency improvements that will drive down their overall energy costs. Today Connecticut is ranked as the 5th most energy efficient state in the nation, several rankings better than in 2010.

Grew Connecticut’s solar industry, an economic development growth area, by 62% in 2013 alone.

Initiated an aggressive natural gas expansion plan that will lower energy costs for up to 280,000 customers by 2023 by giving them access to a cheaper and cleaner energy source. (Source: PURA Docket)

WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO…

Expand the Residential Solar Investment Program (RSIP) to ten times its current size by 2020. The Residential Solar Investment Program was designed in 2011 to achieve a minimum of 30 MW of new residential solar installations by 2022. The program has been phenomenally successful and we have already met that goal years ahead of schedule, achieving a 1000% increase in the size of the residential solar market. We propose to set a new target of 300 MW by 2020, once again seeking to increase the solar residential market by ten times. To achieve this goal, we propose requiring our utilities to purchase energy from residential solar installations on a long term basis so all electric consumers benefit from access to clean energy.

Increase capitalization of the Connecticut Green Bank, which has become a national model in innovative green energy financing, and work with the Treasurer’s Office to issue “green bonds” to provide upfront capital to finance long-term green energy-producing assets.

Enhance Connecticut’s first-in-the-nation statewide microgrid grant program by providing state bond support for the financing of 24/7 clean generation microgrids (e.g., fuel cells, anaerobic biodigesters, microturbines); and, continue to promote the development of micro-grids and distributed generation including community solar gardens.