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Conn. environmental head resigns to return to Yale

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 15, 2014 at 6:51 pm •  Published: January 15, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Daniel Esty, the point man in Connecticut's reshaping of energy policy, has resigned as commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Policy to return to Yale University.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Wednesday that Esty will leave the administration Feb. 3 to teach at the Ivy League university, which had granted him a three-year leave.

Environmentalists cheered Malloy's appointment of Esty as Connecticut's first commissioner of a merged energy and environmental agency in 2011. They saw an opportunity for new high-profile renewable energy policies linked to a cleaner environment. But Esty instead drew criticism from environmentalists who accused him of promoting state energy policies that suited businesses and few others.

Esty said Wednesday he is "very proud" at the transformation of the agency, particularly its regulatory work and the near-elimination of a permit backlog.

"There's a lighter regulatory burden but we're not lowering standards," he said.

John Rathgeber, president of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said he will miss Esty.

"He pursued a 21st century regulatory model, breaking down DEEP's core programs and rebuilding them for speed and efficiency and reducing the regulatory burden on businesses," he said.

A successor to Esty was not announced.

Malloy's Democratic administration and traditional environmentalist allies found common ground on most energy and environmental policies. But the Malloy administration's emphasis on business-based solutions alienated advocates who said more direct government action was required.

In an interview in May with The Associated Press, Esty said "the so-called command and control regulation ... has limited value in getting to the next stage of progress." He said Malloy's policies are turning away from an "outdated view" of protecting solar and wind power from competition and instead aim to promote competing sources of energy that are expected to drive down costs, he said.

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