March 15, 2012

Esty touts progress on energy, environment

BRISTOL -- Speaking this morning to a business group in Bristol, state Commissioner for Energy and the Environment Dan Estay said, “We are working in Hartford to really transform how government does business."
He said it is a partnership, especially with municipal leaders. “We are trying to conduct a partnership with Washington, and that’s a lot harder,” he added.
Esty said government has to operate under restrained resources “and this is not going to go away.”
He said people are always upset when changes are required.
Domestic natural gas “is a huge opportunity,” he said, because shale gas extracted from rock is now possible through fracking. He said it will ultimately provide us with a huge quantity of natural gas and prices are consequently at an all-time low.
“For those who have natural gas, you are seeing a real” reduction in costs, Esty said. Those using oil, though, are seeing high costs.
“We are thinking hard about how to manage in those circumstances,” Esty said. He said Connecticut is “very serious” about thinking through these changing times to take advantage of the situation.
“We are making progress,” Esty said.
On the environment side, we are focused on environmental standards. We can lighten the burden and speed up the process, Esty said.
Esty said the department is trying to strip away unnecessary time, burden and other measures that delay permitting.
He said that permits were issued in one day during storm emergencies.
“It doesn’t mean we walk away” from environmental concerns, Esty said.
But “our focus on speed,” Esty said, is now a goal. “Speed, clarity, predictability” are things that matter, he said.
Permits used to sit for months or years, but now they are usually done in 60 days. Even a faster “no” helps, he said.
On the energy front, he said, state is focused on cleaner, cheaper and more reliable energy.
Esty is speaking before about 50 people at an Eggs & Issues breakfast sponsored by the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce at the Clarion Hotel.
Mostly, it’s the usual crowd of city business leaders, city officials and the sorts of folks who show up for most everything, such as former Mayor Bill Stortz. Among those here are Mayor Art Ward, city economic development chief Jonathan Rosenthal, city Councilor Henri Martin, state Rep. Whit Betts, former state Rep. Bill Hamzy, former Burlington First Selectman Ted Scheidel and Police Chief Eric Osanitsch, who can keep everyone else in line if the need arises.
The first order of ducks for the duck parade was just put in for 27 ducks “scattered throughout the region,” said Mike Nicastro, the president of the chamber. He’d like more people to buy a duck for the second round of orders. It’s all a fundraiser for a business incubator program pushed by the chamber.
You’ll be glad to know the chamber will have its duck done soon, with “all sorts of vignettes of the city” painted all over it, Nicastro said.
Ward said Esty promised accessibility and “getting rid of the red tape” before taking office. He said he’s actually followed through.
“The commissioner has delivered,” Ward said.
When the mayor saw Stately Floors hanging into the river the morning of the first flood last summer, he called Esty’s office and got through to him directly. “Never once did he shy away from the phone,” Ward said. He said the commissioner came out and walked “from one end of Bristol to the other” and hit all the worst-hit spots.
“For this community, that was so uplifting,” Ward said, because it showed he cared and would be looking out for the city.
Ward said Esty is also on top of the issues related to the Bristol Resources Recovery Facility Committee, which oversees the Covanta trash burning plant in town.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

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