The state Senate gave final legislative approval yesterday to a bill that would stop construction on utility projects across Long Island Sound for one year.
The moratorium would halt the installation of a 24-mile electricity cable that would run below the sound from New Haven Harbor to Brookhaven, N.Y. The project, which is nearing construction, has been approved by the Connecticut Siting Council and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Under the bill, the state would also conduct a comprehensive environmental assessment of the sound and a plan for future utility projects.
“The one-year moratorium would permit crucial study and investigation of energy cables across the sound,” said Sen. Don Williams, D-Killingly, the co-chairman of the Environment Committee. “We must ensure that we do not damage the environment of the Long Island Sound in a permanent way or in a way that takes decades to repair.”
The bill has had strong bipartisan support from shoreline area lawmakers. It was approved overwhelmingly in both chambers — 31-2 in the Senate and 138-11 last week in the House.
The bill now goes to Gov. John G. Rowland for final approval.
Christopher Cooper, Rowland’s spokesman, said the governor has not decided whether he will sign the bill. Rowland has asked state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to examine whether a moratorium that would include the approved power line project is constitutional, and whether Cross Sound Cable would have grounds to sue the state, Cooper said.
Rowland is expected to sign an executive order Friday that would stop for six months construction on any utility proposals that have not been approved, Cooper said.
Blumenthal said Wednesday that the legislature’s moratorium is constitutional.
“I must continue to urge that the governor sign the moratorium measure as the only sure and effective means to prevent severe and irreparable harm to the sound,” he said.
There are currently several proposals to install electricity cables and gas pipelines from Connecticut to Long Island, in addition to the existing cables and pipelines that have been under the sound for years.
Blumenthal and the city of New Haven have appealed the Siting Council’s approval of the Cross Sound Cable project in court.