CTLCV works with Connecticut's environmental advocacy groups to identify and highlight important bills that affect our air, water, wildlife, open space, and our health, safety, and economy. CTLCV opposes all rollbacks and exemptions that weaken environmental protections in Connecticut.
The bills listed below include the issues we tracked during the 2012 legislative session. Many will be reintroduced in 2013.
2012 Legislative Watchlist
Phosphorus Study (SB 440) The bill would require DEEP and towns affected by DEEP’s phosphorous reduction strategy to jointly evaluate that strategy and to make recommendations to the legislature. The recommendations would include a statewide proposal to reduce phosphorus from non-point sources (stormwater pollution), approaches to comply with Clean Water Act requirements and scientific methods to measure phosphorus levels. The bill also prohibits the use of phosphorus containing fertilizer for established lawns with certain exceptions. Finally, section 3 of the bill allows Clean Water Funds to be used for phosphorus reduction projects.
Outdoor Furnaces (SB 84) This bill seeks to better regulate the air pollution generated by outdoor wood burning furnaces. This bill would:
Make permanent the ban on installing, modifying, or using outdoor wood-burning furnaces that do not meet certain requirements;
Extend, to outdoor wood-burning furnaces constructed or in use before July 8, 2005, two restrictions that currently apply only to furnaces constructed or first used on and after that date;
Add wood pellets;
Require any furnace constructed, installed, or modified on and after October 1, 2012, to meet certain emission standards;
Prohibit operating or using an outdoor wood-burning furnace between May 1 and September 30 in a given year under certain circumstances; and
Allow replacing or modifying a lawfully installed outdoor wood-burning furnace if it results in reduced emissions.
Statewide Sewage Pollution Right-to-Know (SB 88) This legislation will build a partnership between the Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection, Dept. of Public Health and municipal sewage treatment facilities throughout the state to develop a real-time neighborhood notification system to alert the public of any occurrence of sewage overflow into adjacent waterways.
Mattress Recycling (SB 89) The "Mattress Bill" would require manufacturers to create a system whereby mattresses are sent for component recycling, legal remanufacture, or other appropriate post-consumer disposal at the end of their useful life. Connecticut alone disposes of 300-400,000 mattresses annually, at a cost to the towns of over $1 million. Connecticut has in recent years implemented Extended Producer Responsibility (Product Stewardship) programs for electronic waste and unused paint. This program would operate in a similar fashion. As there would be no cost to dispose of a mattress, illegal dumping should be greatly reduced.
Safe Pharmaceutical Disposal (SB 92) This proposal protects the environment and improves public health and safety by keeping dangerous chemicals out of our waterways. The bill creates a safe pharmaceutical disposal program where State Police will maintain lockboxes for the anonymous disposal of unused and expired pharmaceutical drugs. Pharmacies throughout the state will also be required to provide educational materials to their customers, informing them of the law and providing them with information about where they can dispose of their drugs.
Vulnerable user (SB 111) This bill provides a penalty for any person who causes harm to a vulnerable user of a public way. In order to promote pedestrian friendly, walkable communities, we need to make our roads safe for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, horseback riders and people in wheelchairs. The bill will establish penalties for infliction of serious physical injury or death to a vulnerable user (such as pedestrian) when a driver fails to operate due care while using a motor vehicle. The penalties include a fine of not more than $1,000.
Chemicals of High Concern for Children (SB 274) This bill will require a joint effort by DPH, DEEP and DCP to prepare a report with regards to chemicals of high concern to children. The report will compare Connecticut with other states and make recommendations how to identify these chemicals andreduce exposure to children.
Open Space Plan (SB 347) This proposal directs DEEP to improve the state's open space plan in three ways: 1) Identify lands of highest conservation priority, 2) identify lands in the custody of other state agencies that might warrant permanent conservation and, after conferring with those agencies, recommend a strategy for such conservation, and 3) recommend a method for establishing an "open space registry" that would allow DEEP to keep track of all open space in the state, with voluntary participation by towns, water companies and land trusts.
Coastal Zone Management (SB 376) This legislation would:
Authorize the state and municipalities to consider sea level rise as a factor in planning,
Require coastal property owners and regulatory agencies to consider a broader range of alternative, more environmentally compatible measures to protect structures from coastal erosion,
Require regulatory agencies to more explicitly explain in writing approvals or rejections of proposed coastal erosion control structures,
Establish consistent coastal jurisdiction lines for regulatory purposes, and
Authorize the DEEP to solicit and advise pilot projects for innovative and low-impact shoreline protection measures.
Oil Efficiency/Water Conservation (SB 415) While this legislation contains many provisions, it addresses two items of particular impact on the environment: water conservation and energy efficiency. 48% of housing units in Connecticut are heated with fuel oil, but oil efficiency programs in CT were defunded by the legislature in 2009. This bill seeks to provide efficiency programs to oil consumers like those currently enjoyed by consumers who heat with electricity or natural gas. The water conservation provision in this bill provides regulatory policies and ratemaking tools that help utilities promote conservation.
GMO labeling (HB 5117) The bill requires the labeling of "GMO," also known as genetically-engineered foods. Consumers have the right to know what's in their food, especially concerning products which health and environment concerns have been raised. Thus, mandatory labeling will allow consumers to identify and make informed choices of food products that may cause health or environmental problems.
Pesticides (HB 5121) Removes the Connecticut lawn-care pesticide preemption statute to restore the municipalities’ right to have stricter lawn-care pesticide regulations than the state - if they choose. The pesticide industry has successfully put in place pesticide preemption laws in 42 states so that towns could not have stricter laws concerning lawn-care pesticide than their state regulations. This legislation would allow towns in CT to decide whether they want to adopt stricter, never less strict, lawn care methods than the state.
Rate Structure for Water Conservation (SB 5334): These water rate conservation provisions are also part of SB 415. This bill will advance more efficient use and planning of water supplies and increased water system reliability by allowing alternative ratemaking mechanisms for private water utilities. This will enable them to encourage water conservation without being penalized, as they are under current rate structures, by unrecoverable lost revenues. It will allow for timely investments of eligible projects that support conservation, energy efficiency and streamflow compliance. The effort is supported by both water companies and environmental groups.
Mercury Disposal (SB 350) This bill seeks to establish a manufacturer-based system of collecting and recycling out-of-service mercury thermostats. This version of mercury collection is favored by industry and provides no financial incentive, no collection goal and limited reporting requirements. The financial incentive has been shown to skyrocket thermostat collection rates in states like Maine and Vermont where such incentives exist.
Inland Wetlands Permits (SB 107) OPPOSE: New language gets rid of ability of wetlands agent to establish specific time period within which regulated activity shall be conducted, when site plan or subdivision approval also required, and also significantly extends the permit life in those situations.
Environmental Protection Act Rollback (SB 343) OPPOSE: This attack on Connecticut’s landmark Environmental Protection Act of 1971 would weaken the public’s ability to oppose development applications. It would subject “intervenors” to punitive and unnecessary measures. It would potentially do four things:
Eliminate the right of an intervenor to appeal an adverse decision
Require a difficult and expensive procedure for intervenors
Potentially subject intervenors to unnecessary information requests and harassment
Expose intervenors to the possibility of having to pay the cost of the development proponent’s legal expenses, which alone could discourage anyone from utilizing CEPA to explore the environmental harm of the proposal.
Cell Towers in Parks (SB 447) OPPOSE: This bill would consider the construction of any telecommunications tower to be “a public purpose and not in conflict with park or forest purposes.” This would remove the ability for DEEP to weigh in meaningfully on cell phone tower siting considerations.
Tree Cutting (SB 450) OPPOSE SECTION 9: This energy legislation contains many proposals, including one to allow utility companies to cut trees on private property without the consent of the owner, provided such cutting is done in a "utility clearance zone."
Pesticide Rollback (HB 5155) OPPOSE: Current law bans the application of lawn care pesticides on any private or public preschool or school grounds with students in eighth grade or lower, except in an emergency. This new bill would remove the existing ban of pesticides at daycares and K-12 schools and authorize the application of lawn care pesticides using integrated pest management (IPM), irrespective of school grade level. Rollbacks of current pesticide regulations is considered to be a serious attack on our current state environmental laws.
Zoning Appeals (HB 5319) OPPOSE: Limits appeals of certain zoning decisions to an aggrieved person who owns land in this state. It also redefines "aggrieved person only as a someone who owns land that abuts or is within one hundred feet of the land involved in the decision, provided such person's land is within this state.