Environmentalists rate Conn. lawmakers; One pushes back

Nov 13, 2013

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters issued a report card Tuesday, grading Connecticut lawmakers on environmental issues. The report says the League is happy with new bond funding for sewage treatment upgrades and open space acquisition.  But the report says the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection remains “dangerously underfunded.” 

Kirsten Griebel of the League says one area of energy policy needs attention.

“There were some good parts of that in promoting energy efficiency," said Griebel. "But one of the areas where we  think the state fell short was changing the portfolio standards for renewable energy.”

State law requires utilities to increasingly get their energy supply from renewable resources, but a law passed in June allows them to meet that goal by using power from hydropower facilities like one in Canada. The League and other environmentalists say that discourages investment in local renewable sources.

Lawmakers who scored high include Democratic Senate President Donald Williams and Republican Senate Minority John McKinney.

Among the lowest scores went to Republican Rob Sampson, who represents Southington and Wolcott in the state House. Sampson says the rationale behind the scoring is flawed.

“I think that legislators that score very highly on this scorecard should not be lauded as being environmentally responsible," said Sampson. "They may very well in fact be, but I think that the score is more indicative of how they believe the government should have more control over the lives of individuals, and that’s something I’m opposed to.”

Sampson says that’s why he opposed several laws the League supported, including one regarding labeling requirements for food containing genetically-modified organisms and one that created a mattress recycling program. Those bills became law. He also voted against a bill that would have regulated the use of wood burning furnaces. That bill did not pass.