Connecticut legislature passes 'Blue Plan' bill for Long Island Sound

The state House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation to create the Long Island Sound Blue Plan, which will result in the development of a coordinated state strategy to guide future uses of the Sound’s waters and submerged lands.

The bill, which was introduced by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, was approved in a unanimous 146-0 vote timed for Earth Day. The bill now heads to the Senate, where a vote is expected sometime next month.

“The Long Island Sound is critical for Connecticut’s economy and the millions of people who rely on its resources, and that’s why this legislation is so important,” Malloy said in a news release. “Action now means protecting our vital coastline tomorrow, allowing comprehensive and regional planning of the Sound for the long-term. There is a pressing need for us to act."

State Rep. James Albis, D-East Haven, co-chairman of the Environment Committee, was one of the leading supporters of the bill. 

“I am glad that my colleagues recognize the great need for a responsible plan for Long Island Sound’s future,” he said. “It is critically important that the state act now and arrive at a plan for protecting one of Connecticut’s most viable economic resources to ensure the stewardship of Long Island Sound."

The bill requires the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to coordinate an inventory of the Sound's uses and its resources, and to develop a plan to preserve and protect the estuary that would include maps, illustrations and other materials. The plan would be created with a 16-member committee by 2019, with opportunity for public comment.

Committee members would include University of Connecticut marine sciences faculty, along with representatives of oil and gas distribution industries, shellfishing, nonprofit environmental groups, shoreline towns, boating, commercial fishing industries and recreational fishing and hunting, among others.

The plan and inventory would be reviewed and updated every five years.

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