Environmental Policy Transition Committee Gives Their Recommendations to the Governor

Ann Gadwah

In December of 2018, I was fortunate enough to have then Governor Elect, Ned Lamont appoint me to the Environmental Policy Transition Committee as a representative from Sierra Club Connecticut. The Committee was comprised of leaders and advocates from all over the environmental community and was chaired by Eric Hammerling of Connecticut Forest and Park Association and Frogard Ryan of The Nature Conservancy. The members of the committee were broken up into 5 working groups, each with a specific focus. Groups were asked to submit their most important long-term priority and their most important short-term priority. Appendices were also submitted with other issues the administration could work on. I worked with the Clean Air, Water and Soil group.

On Friday, January 4, 2019, the Environmental Policy Transition Committee gave their recommendations to Governor Ned Lamont and Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz at the Nature Conservancy’s office in New Haven. The committee had previously given their recommendations to Transition Co-Chair, Garrett Moran and to the general public at the Meigs Point Nature Center in Hammonasset on December 19, 2019, but this was an amazing chance to give them to the Governor directly. I am proud of the proposals that we gave to the Governor and excited for his apparent commitment to the environment.

In determining these priorities both the larger committee and the individual groups gave great thought in how to address the most pressing challenge of our time - climate change. The groups and their recommendations are as follows:

Invest in DEEP Group:

Members: Steve Coan, Eric Hammerling

Long Term Priority: Improve permit, grant/contract and procurement efficiency and timeliness at DEEP

Short Term Priority: Promote Connecticut’s outdoor recreation assets and produce online statewide trails map

Reduce Waste/Increase Recycling Group:

Members: Lou Burch, Ted Kennedy Jr, Christina Smith, B. Holt Thrasher

Long Term Priority: Reduce waste by diverting food and organic waste for local composting

Short Term Priority: Commitment to phase-out single use plastics, such as plastic bags and Styrofoam

Support Local Economies and Preserve Open Space Group:

Members: Amy Paterson, Karen Mehra

Long Term Priority: Authorize municipal funding for land conservation, e.g. local buyer’s conveyance fee

Short Term Priority: Increase pace of land conservation with DEEP public-private partnership

Protect Clean Air, Water, and Soil Group:

Members: Lori Brown, Ann Gadwah, Kathleen Segerson

Long Term Priority: Lead the way in designing carbon pricing that fits Connecticut and the region

Short Term Priority: Challenge the General Assembly to pass the State Water Plan in its current form

Sea Level Rise/ Long Island Sound Resiliency Group:

Members: Matthew McKenzie, David Sutherland

Long Term Priority: Curb nitrogen pollution in Long Island Sound near shore waters

Short Term Priority: Help towns use FEMA programs to lower risk/insurance costs in flood-prone areas

 

Both Lamont and Bysiewicz listened intently and asked insightful questions. They seem extremely dedicated to environmental protection here in Connecticut. In addition to these recommendations, the administration has also committed to reducing greenhouse gasses, transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2050 and protecting Connecticut from environmental rollbacks at the federal level. It is an exciting time for us to have such a potential champion as Governor. We will be watching closely.

Ann Gadwah is Chapter Chair and Political Committee Chair, Sierra Club Connecticut.

Environmental Policy Transition Committe

Photo: The Environmental Policy Transition Committee