Senator Witkos Supports Legislation to Enhance Environmental Protections

April 30, 2014

Hartford – Senator Kevin Witkos (R-8) is advocating for enhanced protections for the environment this legislative session. Two environmental protection bills co-sponsored by Senator Witkos have already received a favorable vote by the Connecticut State Senate, and now move on to the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 70, co-sponsored by Senator Witkos, aims to provide for the permanent preservation of state lands of high conservation value. The bill received unanimous support by the state Senate last week.

“This legislation strengthens legal protection for Connecticut’s open spaces,” said Senator Witkos, “Here in greater Farmington Valley and Litchfield County we have many beautiful outdoor areas to enjoy with our families. It is important to make sure this land is protected and conservation efforts are in place to ensure enjoyment for many generations to come.”

If passed, Senate Bill 70 would do the following:

  • Authorize Connecticut to designate certain state-owned lands as “lands of public use and benefit,” which includes land used for conservation, public enjoyment, or recreational purposes, or activities to improve or maintain these purposes.
  • Require the state to establish, by 2015, a publicly accessible geographic information map system and database that has a public use and benefit land registry. The registry must be made available on DEEP’s website.

Senate Bill 66, also co-sponsored by Senator Witkos and supported unanimously, would maintain a ban on certain outdoor wood-burning furnaces and require that only non-chemically treated wood be used in these furnaces.

“Exposure to wood-burning furnace emissions can lead to potential adverse health effects. By keeping the current ban on certain furnaces and establishing rules for furnace usage we can better protect local residents and the environment.”

If passed, Senate Bill 66 would do the following:

  • Extend current provisions requiring outdoor wood-burning furnaces to be in use by July 8, 2005 or, for those in use after that date, be installed at least 200 feet from the nearest home not serviced by it; have a chimney higher than the roof peaks of homes within 500 feet of the furnace and not serviced by it, but no higher than 55 feet; burn only non-chemically treated wood; and be installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s written instructions, provided the instructions comply with the law.
  • Requires all outdoor wood-burning furnaces to use only non-chemically treated wood.

In order for these bills to move forward, the House of Representatives must vote on each bill before the legislative session ends on May 7.

In addition to the two bills voted favorably out of the Senate, Senator Witkos is also co-sponsoring Senate Bill 446, which aims to establish an aquatic invasive species management grant program.

“Our state’s many lakes have been severely impacted by the growth of invasive plants and creatures. Everything from zebra mussels, a quickly spreading mollusk, to invasive plants can negatively change the environment of the lake or body of water they invade. These pests can destroy other native species and plants and threaten the health of local ecosystems. They can also be dangerous, spreading pathogens, clogging water intakes on engines and causing damage to personal property,” said Senator Witkos.

Senate Bill 446 awaits a vote in both the Connecticut Senate and House of Representatives.
See below for more information on each bill.
Senate Bill 70:
Senate Bill 66:
Senate Bill 446: