Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Smart Growth P.O.V. on CTLCV

Environmentalists gathered earlier this week in downtown Hartford to discuss “Environmental Excellence in a time of Economic Constraint,” signaling the Connecticut League of Conservation Voter’s understanding that Connecticut’s economy can grow while still respecting our state’s historic environmental traditions. The League’s 12th Annual Environmental Summit featured three riveting panel discussions—spanning across public officials, advocates, and private entrepreneurs who engaged in passionate discussions about topics that are essential to Smart Growth policy and near and dear to 1000 Friends of Connecticut's heart: brownfield remediation, green infrastructure, energy-efficiency, transit-oriented development, and ensuring these initiatives result in a more business-friendly environment (literally) that creates jobs for our residents.

Susan Merrow, President of 1000 Friends’ Board of Directors, spoke on a panel with the commissioners from the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Department of Transportation, along Peter Malkin of Malkin Holdings, LLC about “Transportation, the Environment, and the Economy.” Joe McGee of the Business Council of Fairfield County moderated the discussion, ensuring a proper mix of questions to address the business community’s and environmentalist’ concerns. All agreed that Connecticut’s sprawling development patterns have had disastrous impacts not only on our state’s environment, but also on our residents’ and businesses’ pocketbooks.

According to Commissioner Redeker from ConnDOT, we must invest in developing in areas along transit lines and the government must be upfront with the development community about where state funding will facilitate private investment. Peter Malkin, Chairman of Malkin Holdings LLC, Malkin Properties, and their affiliates, appealed to environmentalists in the room by his response to a question on climate change and the effects of unpredictable weather, brought to the public’s awareness by two recent storms that left hundreds of thousands without power for days on end. Malkin described the “tragedy in cutting down hundreds of thousands of trees to address problems raised by current infrastructure.”

Commissioner Dan Esty of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection provided the keynote speech of the evening. According to the Hartford Courant’s Rick Green, Commissioner Esty stated, “It's not retrenchment. We have an opportunity to remake environmental protection for the 21st century. You can't focus on the environment in isolation.'' CTLCV’s guests left the event with an encouraging sense that the public-private partnerships needed to protect our state’s limited natural resources in a time of economic disparity are finally upon us and everyone involved has moved past “talking the talk” to “walking the walk.”

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters has identified their legislative priorities for the upcoming session as Water Quality, Land-Use and Open Space Preservation, Energy-Efficiency, a Multi-Modal Transportation System, reducing exposure to Toxins and Waste, and ensuring DEEP has the resources needed to be effective. 1000 Friends of Connecticut gives kudos to the League for its efforts in keeping issues moving forward in a way that benefits the environment and the economy at the same time.

If you missed the event, you can listen to it on WNPR or watch it on CT-N.

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