Connecticut's natural environment is the bedrock of our economy, health, and safety -- the very elements that encourage citizens to live and work in our state.
The CT League of Conservation Voters has identified a number of issues that it will be tracking this year for its 2013 Environmental Scorecard. This watchlist will be updated weekly throughout the legislative session. Download or print a Microsoft Word version or a PDF of the Watchlist.
HB06437 - AAC MATTRESS STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM: Support This law implements a mattress stewardship program to regulate post-consumer mattress disposal, encouraging recycling of mattress components when technologically feasible and economically practical. Additionally, the law requires mattress producers to join a nonprofit mattress recycling council. Failure to do so prohibits them from selling mattresses in the state. Connecticut alone disposes of 300,000 - 400,000 mattresses annually, at a cost to towns of over $1 million. This program will be funded by a mattress stewardship fee on mattresses sold in CT, and should greatly reduce illegal dumping by offering disposal at no cost.
HB06441 - AAC DAM SAFETY PROGRAM : Support This law requires dam owners to have their dams inspected periodically depending on the hazard presented by potential failure. A similar initiative in Massachusetts has enhanced not only the awareness and remediation of hazardous conditions, but also fish habitat by inducing more dam owners to remove dams. The law also streamlines permits for dam removals that improve ecological conditions. The commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) retains the right to exercise enforcement action for violations of dam safety laws, and violators may be subject to fines.
HB06527 - AAC GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD: Support This law requires food made available to consumers in CT that has been partially or entirely produced with genetic engineering to be clearly labeled as such. Failure to do so will deem the product misbranded, and may subject the person responsible for misbranding, selling, or receiving the foods to criminal penalties. Such mandatory labeling will give consumers the right to make informed decisions about food products for which health and environmental concerns have been raised. A compromise was reached on this law, requiring four other states, at least one of which must border Connecticut and with a collective population of at least 20 million people, to pass similar legislation before the labeling requirement will take effect.
HB06538 - AAC ARBORISTS AND TREE WARDENS: Support This law establishes requirements for both arborist businesses and tree wardens with the purpose of ensuring the proper care and management of the state’s urban forests. Concerning arborist businesses, the law requires that they register annually with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and that at least one licensed arborists is employed at each business. Under General Statutes §§23-58 and 23-59, every municipality must have a tree warden with the responsibilities of “the care and control of public trees.” This law ensures that municipal tree wardens have the educational background to make informed decisions regarding tree management by requiring them to be professionally certified. Enforcing these requirements reduces the risks to public safety and property that can come from mismanaged trees.
The commissioner of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) must transfer control of the property to the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture (DoAg)
The commissioner of the DoAg must grant a permanent conservation easement on the property to a nonprofit aimed at protecting agricultural land
The easement must ensure the preservation of the land for agricultural use and allow the DoAg commissioner to lease, permit, or license the land for such use
All activities conducted under the easement on the Farm must be conducted in accordance with a conservation plan prepared by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) approved by the DoAg Commissioner that takes into account protection of the agricultural and conservation values of the property.
Uncertainty about the future of the Southbury Training School has been a local concern for many years. This law permanently protects the approximately 825 acres of agricultural lands on the property (including prime agricultural soils) adding to the State’s portfolio of protected farmland at no cost to taxpayers, and providing both the community and DoAg with a vibrant agricultural base for the future. The law is precedent-setting because it proposes of private-public partnership with a nonprofit land conservation organization via the granting of conservation easement.
HB06651 - AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE STATE OF CT BROWNFIELD WORKING GROUP This law consolidates all brownfield accounts into a singular account and dictates what types of funds and revenues the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) must deposit into the revised account. In addition, it separates the current brownfield grant and loan program, making the grant program only open to municipalities, while the loan program can be utilized by developers to reduce blight, but not to obtain property. The law also authorizes the DCED commissioner to require grant and loan recipients to reimburse the state when receiving remediation funds from outside sources. It also narrows the criteria of whether a substance found on a property constitutes a regulated substance, the qualification required for liability relief.
Authorizing conveyances of state property to Canton, New Britain, Southbury, and Stamford,
Amending prior conveyances in Tolland, Wethersfield, Barkhamsted, and New Hartford,
Authorizing a land exchange between New Britain and Newington,
Granting a conservation easement in Middletown, and
Repealing a land exchange authorization in Haddam.
While we applaud the legislature's decision to reverse the Haddam land swamp conveyance so that this wildlife management area remains protected, this law was significantly altered at the last minute to include two unfortunate provisions:
A last minute amendment gave away two parcels of land from our flagship state park, Hammonasset, to the town of Madison for what appears to be parking purposes. The effect of this transfer is not yet clear.
The town of New Britain is giving highly ecologically sensitive land to expand a golf course so that it can give some of the golf course land to a private developer for a new Costco. This is a terrible transfer that we were unable to remedy.
SB00807 - AAC WATER INFRASTRUCTURE AND CONSERVATION: Support This law provides mechanisms for encouraging private water companies, as well as municipal and other public utilities, to invest in conservation and infrastructure improvements. By allowing flexibility in rate designs and other operational rules, the law helps water suppliers stabilize revenue and promote infrastructure improvements that ensures reliable, high quality water. Similar to de-coupling in the energy sector, this law reduces output disincentives for conservation, thus protecting the integrity of the state’s water resources.
SB00814 - AN ACT CONCERNING INTERVENTION IN PERMIT PROCEEDINGS PURSUANT TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT OF 1971: Oppose early versions, final language neutral The Connecticut Environmental Protection Act of 1971 (CEPA) has been instrumental to the progress the state has made to preserve its open spaces and clean its air and water resources. This progress has been possible in part due to a provision under CEPA that allows citizen suits to oppose unreasonable threats to the environment. This initiative aimed to make revisions to CEPA to reduce the frequency of vexatious and baseless suits. The environmental community did not oppose revisions to CEPA and land use statutes, providing that the revisions made requirements more transparent, open, and fair to all parties without changing substantive requirements or disproportionately targeting environmental intervenors.
SB01010 - AAC SEA LEVEL RISE AND THE FUNDING OF PROJECTS BY THE CLEAN WATER FUND: Support This law deals with water quality projects that are eligible for financial aid through the Clean Water Fund. Such projects include the planning, design, and construction of water pollution control facilities. Specifically, the law requires the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to consider sea level rise and the necessity of implementing measures to mitigate its impact when establishing the priority list and ranking system to determine projects that will receive grants and loans from the Clean Water Fund. Accounting for sea level rise in the design of water quality projects will help ensure the success of those projects.
SB01012 - AAC THE DEFINITION OF “RISE IN SEA LEVEL”: Support The Senate combined four coastal management bills pending in the Senate and added a new effective date as the new vehicle. This law now contains all of 1014 and elements of 459 and 460. We were pleased with the inclusion of 1014, which clarifies the existing definition of “rise in sea level”, and requires agencies drafting certain emergency and disaster plans, as well as Plans of Conservation and Development, at both the state and municipal level to evaluate sea level change scenarios that account for projected accelerations in the rate at which sea level will rise in the future. Doing so helps ensure that our state and communities are more realistically planning their land use and emergency response to reduce future damage to coastal resources and infrastructure.
SB01019 - AAC ADMINISTRATIVE STREAMLINING AT DEEP This law aims to streamline various programs of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and modify the role and responsibilities of the DEEP commissioner in maintaining and enforcing these programs. While some troubling sections were removed in the Senate, a new section was added that would allow DEEP to waive penalties for first time violators and undermine enforcement of environmental permits. Fortunately, the House rejected this provision.
SB01138- AAC CONNECTICUT’S CLEAN ENERGY GOALS: Oppose Under CT’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), utilities must get a rising percentage of the electricity they supply from new, clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar. The goal is that Class I (as designated by the RPS) clean renewable sources will account for 20% of CT’s electricity output by 2020, making Connecticut a national leader in clean energy. However, this new law allows utilities to permanently fill a percentage of their mandated clean energy portfolio using power from large Canadian hydropower facilities like HydroQuebec and discourage investment of local renewable sources.
HB05183 - AAC REGISTRATION OF ALL TERRAIN VEHICLES AND ESTABLISHING AN ALL TERRAIN VEHICLE DIVISION WITHIN DEEP: Oppose This bill was significantly altered and during the last minutes of session, a surprise bill, SB 190 was introduced and subsequently passed. The bill would have required the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to implement the ATV proposals laid out in its November 2002 publication “All-Terrain Vehicle Policy and Procedures”. The publication provided procedures for designation of state land for ATV use and identified land appropriate for this use. DEEP would have been required to view proposals to accept or deny, and work with organizations with approved proposals for the land’s development, operation and maintenance. In addition, this bill also laid out requirements for the certification of anyone operating a vehicle for the transport of household goods. The bill was later vetoed by the Governor.
HB05335 - AN ACT PROHIBITING POSSESSION AND STORAGE OF FRACKING BY-PRODUCTS: Support Hydraulic fracturing (i.e., fracking) is a method of oil and natural gas extraction in which a mixture of water, sand, and toxic chemicals is pumped into a well at high pressures, causing the fracturing of surrounding rock layers and allowing the flow of oil and natural gas. However, inherent in this process is the production of many dangerous by-products, including waste water that often contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Conventional wastewater treatment plants are not equipped to remove fracking-related toxins, making it necessary to transport the contaminated water to designated disposal sites. This legislation would have eliminated Connecticut as a potential recipient of fracking waste by banning the possession or storage of any related by-products, with the goal of maintaining the safety of Connecticut's air and water supplies.
HB06385 - AAC PROHIBITING THE USE OF PESTICIDES AT PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Support This legislation would have banned the application of pesticides in, or on the grounds of, public and private schools in CT. In addition, it would have expanded the existing ban, which applies to schools with children in grade eight or lower, to cover public and private high schools. Emergency applications of pesticides would have been allowed at schools only if it has been determined that they are needed to eliminate a threat to human health. A pesticide ban at schools would have reduced child exposure to products that are known to have adverse health and environmental impacts.
HB06439 - AAC THE DISPOSAL AND COLLECTION OF UNUSED MEDICATION: Support This proposal would have protected the environment and improved public health and safety by keeping dangerous chemicals out of our waterways. It prohibited health care institutions, both public and private, and all associated staff from disposing of unused medication into a wastewater collection or septic system. In addition, this bill required the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to launch a public awareness campaign about the dangers of improperly disposing of medication and the availability of pharmaceutical collection programs.
HB06489 - AAC CHILDREN'S SAFETY (support LCO AMENDMENT 6207): Support This bill would have required the commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH) to create and maintain a list of priority chemicals (chemicals with evidence of adverse health effects) of high concern to children, update the list every two years, and present findings to the Public Health Committee. In addition, state manufacturers of children’s products containing priority chemicals would have been required to disclose the presence of the chemicals to the DPH, and subsequently submit a plan detailing a path to using a safer alternative for manufacturing, known as a “product innovation plan.” In order to ensure the reduction of child exposure to dangerous products, the plan must have been implemented within 2 years of a chemical being designated as a priority chemical by the DPH.
HB06519 - AN ACT REQUIRING LABELING OF GENETICALLY-ENGINEERED FOODS: Support The purpose of this bill was to require any foods, seed, or seed stock made available to consumers in CT that have been partially or entirely produced with genetic engineering be clearly labeled with the words “Produced with Genetic Engineering.” Failure to do so would deem the product misbranded, and subject the person(s) responsible for misbranding, selling, or receiving the foods to criminal penalties. Under this bill, the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) would have been authorized to enforce the labeling requirements. Such mandatory labeling would give consumers the right to make informed decisions about food products for which health and environmental concerns have been raised.
HB06533 - AAC HYDRAULIC FRACTURING (see alsoHB05335): Support This bill defined the processes and materials that constitute hydraulic fracturing (i.e., fracking), fracking waste, and fracking waste disposal. Additionally, it would have placed a one-year moratorium, effective July 1, 2013 – July 1, 2014, affecting any person or business entity responsible for:
Treating, discharging, or disposing of any hydraulic fracturing (fracking) waste,
Holding any fracking waste for treatment or disposal,
Using fracking waste to manufacture any item, product, or material, or
Selling any item, product, or material to which fracking waste has been added
The bill also allows the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) commissioner to espouse regulations to enforce the moratorium, and requires DEEP to prepare an assessment detailing the full effects of fracking waste by February 1, 2014. While this bill established a 1 year moratorium (which we supported), it also tied that moratorium to a study of fracking waste disposal by DEEP(which we opposed).
HB06536 - AAC GENERAL PERMITS OF THE DEEP: Support Beginning October 1, 2013, this bill would have established annual fees for people operating under general permits issued by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). For a permit that requires both registration and DEEP approval before an activity is conducted, the annual fee would be $200. For a permit that only requires registration, the fee would be $100.
HB06537 - AAC WATER QUALITY AND THE UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT: Support The University of Connecticut (UConn) is proposing to run a pipeline from the Farmington River Watershed to the Storrs-Mansfield campus to provide a source of drinking water for its Technology Park, which will be completed in 2015. Should the pipeline be implemented, it will route more water than necessary to the Storrs campus, and risk the long-term health of the Farmington River Watershed. This bill would have held UConn accountable to certain water supply plans and consumer information and mapping requirements currently applicable to all regional, municipal, and private water utilities, in order to promote an approach to providing drinking water with minimum negative impacts on Connecticut’s communities and wildlife.
SB00191 - AAC THE PENALTY FOR CAUSING HARM TO A VULNERABLE USER: Support The passage of this bill would have enhanced the penalty for a motorist who causes death or injury to a “vulnerable user” on a public way, due to failure on behalf of the motorist to exercise reasonable care. The bill defined vulnerable users as pedestrians, highway workers, bicyclists, anyone riding or driving an animal, skaters, skateboarders, and roller bladers, people driving or riding on a farm tractor, people in wheelchairs or motorized chairs; and blind people and their service animals. The penalty was a fine of up to $1,000, with the goal of promoting behavior that makes Connecticut’s public ways safer for all users.
SB00460 - AAC COASTAL PRETECTION MEASURES… SHORE LINE STRUCTURES… WATER RESOURCES… DEEP PROCEDURES: Oppose This bill would have required the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to issue Certificates of Permission (COP) for activities that were illegally conducted without required permits prior to 1995. Additionally, it would have required DEEP to issue a Certificate for maintenance of, or minor alterations to, structures illegally installed before 1995. Statutes of Limitations in other areas of law rarely require regulatory or enforcement authorities to actively sanction the original illegal activity or permit an expansion of the activity. It would be particularly inappropriate to do so in public trust lands along CT’s coastline.
SB00530 - AAC REDEVELOPMENT OF THE NORWICH STATE HOSPITAL PROPERTY: Support This legislation would have appropriated funds to the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) for the purpose of redeveloping the deteriorated Norwich State Hospital property in Preston. It was proposed that the funds be used to create The Connecticut Clean Energy Center for Research and Development, which would incorporate clean energy light manufacturing with an educational and training component. The building of such a center would lend itself to a long-term, sustainable plan for the management of the property, as well as create new jobs that will tap into the emerging economy for renewable energy.
SB00916 - AN ACT AUTHORIZING CIVIL PENALTIES FOR THE FAULTY, CARELESS, OR NEGLIGENT APPLICATION OF PESTICIDES: Support Under the CT Pesticide Control Act, a pesticide applicator must be certified if the applicator works with a restricted use pesticide, as classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). This bill would have supplemented the Pesticide Control Act, making it unlawful for a certified applicator to apply pesticide in a faulty, careless, or negligent manner. Violators would be subject to civil penalties, and knowing violators would have been subject to criminal penalties. This would promote careful behavior when applying products that are known to have adverse health and environmental impacts.
SB00917 - AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE USE OF CERTAIN MICROBIAL AND BIOCHEMICAL PESTICIDES AND GRUB CONTROL PRODUCTS ON SCHOOL GROUNDS: Support Current law prohibits the application of lawn care pesticides in, or on the grounds of, public and private schools and day care centers in CT with students in grade eight and lower. Emergency applications of pesticides are allowed at schools only if it has been determined that they are needed to eliminate a threat to human health. This bill would have exempted certain products from falling under the definition of “lawn care pesticides,” providing that the products are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, thus allowing them to be used on school grounds. These exemptions include microbial pesticides, in which a microorganism acts as an active ingredient, and biochemical pesticides, which are natural, nontoxic pest control substances. The bill aimed to reduce child exposure to products that are known to have adverse health and environmental impacts, while still allowing safe methods of pest control.
SB00981 - AAC PESTICIDES ON SCHOOL GROUNDS: Support This legislation would have expanded the existing ban of pesticides, which applies to schools with children in grade eight or lower, to cover public and private high schools. Emergency applications of pesticides would be allowed at schools only if it had been determined that they are needed to eliminate a threat to human health. A pesticide ban at schools would reduce child exposure to products that are known to have adverse health and environmental impacts.
SB01011 - AAC CERTAIN USER FEES AT STATE PARKS: Support This bill would have required that the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) increase the user fees for state park special events of limited duration by up to 135%, based on the amount charged as of June 1, 2013. The resultant money was to be deposited into an account within the General Fund that is designated for the maintenance, repair, and improvement of state parks, ensuring that CT’s state parks continue to be well-preserved, attractive options for all users.
SB01134 - AAC OUTDOOR WOODBURNING FURNACES: Support Although wood smoke from outdoor wood furnaces contains many of the same hazardous components as cigarette smoke, it lacks the same strict regulations meant to protect public health. This bill aimed to reduce air pollution resulting from outdoor wood furnaces by banning the sale of all furnaces after October 1, 2013 that do not meet Phase II emissions standards as specified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, it required all outdoor wood-burning furnaces to burn only “clean wood,” eliminating the burning of wood that has a paint or stain coating or has been chemically treated.