Christine Stuart photo
Dan Esty and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (Christine Stuart photo)

(Updated 2:22 p.m.) Daniel Esty, a Yale professor and former federal environmental official, was nominated by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Thursday to head the proposed consolidated environmental and energy agency.

Esty, who shares Malloy’s vision for a combined agency, said he will focus on environmental protection and energy regulation with an eye toward creating jobs.

It’s a view he expresses in his recent book: Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage. In the book Esty argues that controlling pollution and managing environmental resources are critical to marketplace success. Some have called it a “definitive guide to greening business.” 

“I think we are going to model a new approach to environmental protection that takes seriously the commitment to that issue, to energy, but also to jobs,” Esty said Thursday. 

Click here to read more about Esty’s proposed harm charge and learn more about his involvement with the ‘No Labels’ movement.

Environmental advocates in the room Thursday praised Malloy’s choice for the position.

“Dan’s work has contributed to the public lexicon of how we regulate the environment,” Jessie Stratton, director of government relations for Environment Northeast, said Thursday.

As someone who has read Esty’s book, Stratton said he articulates a new approach to both the environment and energy which is consistent to where the governor comes from.

“It’s the idea that we can do this with a new paradigm,” Stratton said.

Eric Brown of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association also applauded Esty’s nomination.

Brown, who heard Esty speak at the League of Conservation Voters in December, said he was very encouraged by what Esty has said regarding his interest in working with the business industry and harnessing the power of the private sector to implement good environmental and energy regulation. However, he is concerned about Esty’s idea of a pollution charge. He said it sounds like a work in progress and if it’s broad and not simply focused on industry then it may be more feasible.

While some have embraced Malloy’s proposal to consolidate the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Public Utility Control, and a small energy division inside the Office of Policy and Management, others have questioned it and the legislature still has to approve it.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said Wednesday that he was worried about combining the DPUC, a regulatory authority, with a larger policymaking agency. He said he doesn’t like that a political appointee would be in charge of a regulatory agency.

Malloy said the DPUC is already run by a group of politically appointed commissioners, who are operating the agency as if the state still has a regulatory structure. The marketplace was deregulated back in 1998.

At a press conference Wednesday Malloy said merging the DEP and the DPUC isn’t just about consolidation, but it’s a step toward gaining control over the state’s steep electricity costs which pose a challenge to businesses.

“Listen, we don’t have an executive-branch-driven energy policy in the state of Connecticut,” Malloy said. “That’s atrocious. It’s one of the reasons that we pay 20 percent more for electricity than any other state in New England, and that we spend more money for energy than any other state but Hawaii.”

Esty is married to former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Cheshire. His new salary when he starts in a few weeks will be $139,000. He will take a leave of absence from Yale.