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State DEEP plans to cut 136 positions

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the newly created agency combining the departments of environmental protection and public utility control, will be cutting 136 positions through layoffs and leaving some vacant positions unfilled, spokesman Dennis Schain said.

The cuts will come from a total of 852 positions at the DEP and DPUC that are funded by the state budget. Some positions in both departments have been funded through federal grants and other sources.

In a letter to staff last week, DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty said the savings target for the department is $10.5 million in fiscal 2012 and $11.8 million in fiscal 2013, out of DEEP's total annual budget of $183 million. Revenues included in the DEEP budget come from the state general fund as well as from federal grants, fees paid by utilities and other sources, Schain said.

Esty said he is working with his management team to develop a layoff plan and would share all information with staff "as soon as I can."

"I understand this is a very difficult time for everyone on a personal level and that this situation presents new challenges to the agency as we transition to DEEP," he said in the letter. "I have also asked the Human Resources staff to be prepared to provide support and the information you may need to make informed decisions."

The only other state agency with responsibility for environmental issues, the Council on Environmental Quality, would be totally eliminated under the Plan B budget, Lori Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, said in an email Wednesday. Gov. Dannel Malloy previously supported eliminating the CEQ, she noted. The small agency, with only two employees, is charged with evaluating the DEP's activities and whether the state is making progress on environmental quality, among other responsibilities.

In her email, Brown urged people concerned about the CEQ to contact state legislators and urge them to preserve the agency. She said the CEQ "appears to be the only agency that is 100 percent defunded in the Plan B budget."

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