DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty Reaches Out to Business Leaders
By Lesia Winiarskyj
When it comes to energy and environmental policy, Daniel Esty told business leaders earlier this summer, state government’s focus on “required” but “no-value-added” processes is over.
Esty is the commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), a single agency that merges the functions of the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Public Utility Control, and other energy policy units.
Esty: a nationally recognized environmental policy expert, Yale professor, and author: is advancing an agenda that integrates economic priorities, including job creation and lower energy costs, into the agency’s core mission.
Esty was the keynote speaker at Environment 2011, a conference hosted by CBIA’s Environmental Policies Council. The event featured highlights from the 2011 legislative session; an overview of new regulations, policies, and practices at DEEP; and 11 breakout sessions on topics such as emerging technologies, energy efficiency, renewable energy, DEEP’s electronic reporting system, and regulatory compliance and enforcement.
Economy: The Third “E”
Eric Brown, CBIA’s associate counsel specializing in environment, energy, and transportation policy, introduced Esty as a leader “determined to fight for a competitive Connecticut [and] grow our economy in an environmentally sustainable way,” adding that the new commissioner “knows instinctively that sound business practices are compatible with sound environmental management.”
Indeed, the commissioner emphasized in his keynote address that DEEP makes a “third E: the economy: part of everything we do.”
Referring to DEP’s traditional focus on mandates, he acknowledged that the “old model of environmental protection was ‘command and control.'” The new approach, he said, demands innovation from both government and the private sector and “a new public-private engagement that hasn’t been seen before.”
Esty offered Connecticut’s recent brownfields reform as an example of legislation with strong bipartisan support and the potential for significant environmental and economic gains. (The law incents businesses to invest in older industrial properties and return them to productive use.) He added that eliminating Connecticut’s CTA (competitive transition assessment) will contribute to lower energy costs and said he expects business energy costs between 5% and 10% lower than they have been over the past year. “We need to concentrate not only on clean energy,” he said, “but cheap energy.”
In fact, in terms of promoting rapid, responsible economic growth, the commissioner characterized recent energy and environmental legislation as “first steps” and pledged, “We’re going to do much more.”
Esty’s message about a more responsive, accountable agency was well-received by audience members, including Anthony Marone, senior vice president at United Illuminating, who called for greater “consistency and predictability for the regulated community.”
It was also echoed in panel discussions with directors and analysts from Connecticut’s DEP and DPUC, who outlined ways the new DEEP plans to improve government’s approach to energy and environmental policy, including:
- Collaborating with the business community to produce better environmental outcomes
- Leaning and standardizing policies, processes, and accounting and benchmarking them against other states’
- Reevaluating existing policies and processes and sunsetting those that are unnecessary or duplicative
- Becoming a paperless agency over the next two years
- Developing robust, public-facing metrics to measure the agency’s progress
Lesia Winiarskyj is a writer/editor at CBIA. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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