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Connecticut News

Report Assesses Connecticut's 'Pollution Paradox'

Keith Srakocic

Connecticut's environmental watchdog has issued its annual check-in on the state's environment. The Council on Environmental Quality said the state needs to do more to meet its environmental goals.

Karl Wagener, CEQ's executive director, said the report demonstrates what he calls a "pollution paradox."

Connecticut works to reduce air and water pollution -- but bigger, badder environmental trends push back.

"We reduced the overall amount of pollution in Connecticut's air, again, to almost a record low level," Wagener said. "But, in the summertime when the air is the worst, we had just as many bad air days as we usually have."

One reason is because 2016 was the warmest year on record, globally.

The report also looks at environmental enforcement. Wagener said due to staffing shortages, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is falling short.

"The number of inspections conducted by DEEP hit a new low," Wagener said. "We say this almost every year, but that's because they hit a new low every year."

Of the roughly 2,600 inspections in 2016 -- the agency found about 800 violations, most pertaining to businesses handling gasoline.

CEQ said inspection numbers in the state's pesticide program have also fallen.

But Wagener did have some good news: he said ospreys and eagles are continuing their dramatic comeback in Connecticut.

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This report comes from the New England News Collaborative, eight public media companies coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.