According to the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, the state’s legislators are slipping as environmental watchdogs. But curiously absent among the 12 votes the CTLCV used to make that assessment is the huge energy bill that created the new Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and set in motion dozens of programs designed to revamp the energy usage profile of the state and ultimately the state’s carbon footprint.

The annual Environmental Scorecard noted that the number of legislators with perfect score remained the same — 38. But the number of those with failing scores — scores below 60 percent — grew to 34 percent, more than 2008, 2009 and 2010 combined.

Bringing up the rear: Reps. Richard Smith (R, New Fairfield) and Lile Gibbons (R, Old Greenwich). Four representatives scored 38 percent: Sean Williams (R, Watertown), Ezequiel Santiago (D, Bridgeport), Anthony D’Amelio (R, Waterbury), and Fred Camillo (R, Old Greenwich). The lowest scoring senator was L. Scott Frantz, a Republican from the Riverside section of Greenwich, with 40 percent.

Democrats overall scored best, as did members of the Senate and women legislators. The votes that figured into the score included the controversial Haddam land swap which the CTLCV opposed and was passed; streamflow regulation changes, which it also opposed and failed; community green fund legislation, which it supported, but failed; an expedited permitting bill, which it opposed, and failed; and using natural buffers for water habitat protection, which it supported and also failed.

CTLCV, which is a bipartisan group, also singled out the chairs of the Commerce Committee — Sen. Gary LeBeau (D, East Hartford) and Rep. Jeffrey Berger (D, Waterbury), both with scores of 50 percent — as being particularly unfriendly to the environment.

On the bright side, the scorecard said, the Council on Environmental Quality ultimately was saved and funding was preserved for a number of open space, farmland preservation and clean water projects.

Jan Ellen is CT Mirror's regular freelance Environment and Energy Reporter. As a freelance reporter, her stories have also appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Yale Climate Connections, and elsewhere. She is a former editor at The Hartford Courant, where she handled national politics including coverage of the controversial 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. She was an editor at the Gazette in Colorado Springs and spent more than 20 years as a TV and radio producer at CBS News and CNN in New York and in the Boston broadcast market. In 2013 she was the recipient of a Knight Journalism Fellowship at MIT on energy and climate. She graduated from the University of Michigan and attended Boston University’s graduate film program.

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