In order to maintain our quality of life and meet our statutory goal of preserving 21% of our land by 2030, Connecticut must be able to protect open space and provide adequate stewardship for parcels that have already been acquired. Unfortunately, the cost of doing so often falls to local city and town governments, most of which have designated other funding priorities for their strained budgets. HB 5254 would allow—but not require—municipalities to collect revenue for the dedicated purpose of bolstering open space acquisition and maintenance, thereby improving quality of life and preserving their community’s treasured resources.
The “local option” is a conveyance or buyer’s fee—limited to 1% of the purchase—on the transfer of real property or the purchase of residential real estate. The revenue generated by this fee would provide dedicated local funding for land conservation, including water resources, farmland, forests, and open space, as well as land stewardship in both rural and urban communities.
In other states, municipalities and counties that have authorized similar conveyance fees for land preservation have found that local real estate land values are enhanced by these programs. Moreover, such programs tend to generate significant matching grants that double or triple the land protection funding in their communities.
Open space helps generate more than $502 million in state and local revenue. Towns and communities must be allowed to protect and maintain these parks, farms, historical sites, and open spaces in order to protect their local economies, keep and attract residents, and preserve their local character.
It should be noted that the legislation being considereddoes NOT require municipalities to adopt the local option. Instead, it authorizes a conveyance fee pilot program in Bolton, Bozrah, Bloomfield, Bethany, Coventry, Hartford, Lyme, New London, Norfolk, North Stonington and Warren, as well as any other interested municipalities. Any city or town that opts to establish the fee must first pass an ordinance in compliance with their local governmental procedures.
It is also important to understand that the legislation, as currently proposed, includes protections for first-time home buyers and low-income individuals by exempting purchases of $150,000 or less from the new fee.
Municipalities do not currently have the right to impose the needed conveyance fee without State approval. The Connecticut General Assembly must pass legislation to give cities and towns permission to adopt such an option through their local ordinances.
We ask that you support this legislation and empower the local authorities of Connecticut’s extremely diverse towns and cities with the ability to actively pursue preservation of open space if they agree that it is a priority for their community.
Thank you for considering this testimony as you deliberate on HB 5254.
To: Honorable Chairs Senator Cohen and Representative Demicco and Distinguished Members of the Environment Committee
From: Lori Brown, Executive Director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters
Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of SB 232, An Act Concerning the Allowable Percentage of Leakage from Gas Pipelines.
Gas leakage from our current pipeline infrastructure in Connecticut is costly to ratepayers and causes considerable damage to our environment and our climate. SB 232 calls for stricter repair action for leaking fracked gas pipelines and prohibits gas companies from charging customers for gas lost from leakage.
gas from pipelines is primarily methane, which traps at least thirty times more heat in our atmosphere than carbon dioxide and is the second largest contributor to climate change. Methane leaks can destroy vegetation, disrupt local ecosystems, and increase the risk of explosions, like the deadly incident in Eastern Massachusetts last year.
Gas leaks are also a major obstacle to reducing our state’s greenhouse gas emissions to at least 45% below the level emitted in 2001 by 2030, and to at least 80% below the level emitted in 2001 by 2050. With our federal government in denial about the reality and impact of climate change, states like Connecticut must do everything in our power right now to reduce emissions.
Most of our state’s pipelines are made of leak-prone iron or metal instead of more durable plastics. According to the EPA, plastic pipelines leak almost 20 times less than their iron or metal counterparts. Enacting a hard cap on the percentage of allowable gas leakage will push pipeline owners to make needed upgrades. The proposed bill caps leakages at 1%, down from 3% currently allowed. Without this tighter cap, pipeline owners have little motivation to revamp their aging infrastructure.
Consumers should not foot the bill for leakages. Charging consumers for leaked gas which was never available to them in the first place is not acceptable. Big businesses should not be allowed to pass the cost of their maintenance failures onto consumers. Passage of SB 232 will remedy this injustice.
Thank you for considering this testimony as you deliberate SB 232.
Fracking waste contains dozens of chemicals — such as mercury, arsenic and lead — strongly linked to developmental or reproductive health problems. In addition, fracking waste contains radioactive materials, such as Radium-226 and Radium-228, and carcinogens such as benzene. Groundwater and water sources adjacent to fracking wastewater storage facilities are in danger of becoming contaminated by these toxic materials.
While Connecticut does not conduct fracking activities, Connecticut is located near Pennsylvania, a central hub of the fracking boom. We cannot allow Pennsylvania — or other states — to dispose of their hazardous fracking waste in Connecticut. A statewide ban on fracking waste would also prohibit the de-icing of roads with fracking waste, which poses additional threats to our communities and environment. A ban would also ensure that fracking waste could not be transported through our state, avoiding accidental spills of toxic waste should a serious accident occur during transport.
In recent years, dozens of Connecticut municipalities have passed local ordinances that ban fracking waste. Connecticut residents understand the threat of fracking waste in their communities. Permanently banning fracking waste is a move to protect Connecticut residents. On behalf of the CT League of Conservation Voters, thank you for considering this testimony as you deliberate a permanent ban on fracking waste in our state.
Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is the process of pumping fluid into ground to create fractures in rock for the production of natural gas and oil. The entire drilling and extraction process creates huge amounts of liquid and solid hazardous wastes. While fracking itself is not happening in Connecticut, ourstate could become a dumping ground for the unwanted waste produced from fracking in other states.
This concern prompted our State legislature to adopt a temporary moratorium on certain activities associated with fracking waste from gas drilling in Connecticut under Public Act 14-200.
Why prohibit fracking waste in Connecticut?
The drilling and extraction process of even a single shale well can produce over a million gallons of toxic radioactive wastewater and hundreds of tons of potentially radioactive solid waste. Oil and gas drilling wastes are a toxic soup of carcinogens (naphthalene, benzene, acrylamide and radium - causing breast, bone, liver and other cancers) environmental toxins (toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene - causing nervous system, kidney or liver harm) and contaminants (arsenic, lead, hexavalent chromium and radioactive radium-226 which has a half-life of 1600 yrs.) Yet, waste byproducts and brine from wells are used in some states for de-icing roads, as construction fill and brownfield capping, a concern prompting many Connecticut towns to move ahead of DEEP by adopting local ordinances banning fracking waste, with additional towns currently working toward such bans.
Bringing this dangerous waste to Connecticut for disposal via thousands of additional tanker trucks on our roadways poses the risk of accidents, spills, and contamination of private and public lands, drinking and surface waters, and costly repairs to road and publicly-owned treatment systems. Connecticut is one of the smallest and most densely populated states in the nation, and this activity would threaten resident health and risk land and water resources and property values forever. We know that waste from over10,000 fracked wells in Pennsylvania (one of the most radioactive shale deposits in the nation) is currently being shipped to at least 8 states, and Connecticut is targeted to be one of the recipients.
What needs to be done now?
Citizens want the State to take action to permanently prohibit the disposal, treatment, storage, handling, de-icing applications and other uses of fracking waste and by-products anywhere in Connecticut. Like our neighboring state of Vermont, we need to take final steps to protect all 169 of our Connecticut towns and cities. CTLCV urges you to support SB 753 to make the ban on fracking waste permanent.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify IN SUPPORT of HB 7003, An Act Concerning a Moratorium on the Use of Recycled Tire Rubber at Municipal and Public School Playgrounds.
We cannot ignore the threat rubber mulch poses to our children. A growing body of research indicates the presence of carcinogens and harmful toxins in this recycled rubber mulch. According to the EPA, it contains benzene, mercury, arsenic, heavy metals, and carcinogens like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Children can come into contact with these toxins through ingestion, prolonged touch, and even inhalation, as studies have found many of the chemicals become airborne at of 77ºF. According to the EPA, breathing air contaminated with PAHs may increase the risks of cancer, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) states that PAHs may also increase the chances of birth defects.
Because of these potential health risks, the EPA in collaboration with the CDC, has commissioned an in-depth study on the effects of rubber mulch. In lieu of the report, Connecticut must take steps to preemptively protect its children, who could be vulnerable to contamination from rubber mulch playgrounds. This bill, which proposes a moratorium on new rubber mulch playgrounds until the report is released, is the smart, safe choice.
The municipalities of Westport and Hartford have banned artificial turf, which utilizes crumb rubber, a material closely linked to rubber mulch. They understood the potential risks — and took steps to protect their residents. All of Connecticut should follow suit.
Thank you for considering this testimony as you deliberate on HB 7003.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify IN SUPPORT of HB 5828, An Act Establishing a Green Jobs Career Ladder.
Connecticut’s clean energy sector is ready to boom. According to a 2017 report authored by the National Association of State Energy Officials, the renewable energy industry in Connecticut already employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry despite its significantly lower penetration in the market. As utilities conform to the Connecticut Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)—which mandates that 40% of energy produced by 2030 comes from renewable sources—job growth in this sector is expected to grow exponentially.
As the renewable energy sector grows, it is imperative that Connecticut encourage and prepare young people to enter into the industry. The Green Jobs Career Ladder demonstrates, in a clear manner, what positions and salaries workers can expect to attain based on their education level. This tool will allow students—as well as other residents and workers interested in clean energy jobs—to more effectively plan for their careers in the rapidly developing clean energy sector.
Prospective workers will be attracted by the good wages and significant opportunity for career advancement that the clean energy sector offers. Private sector, renewable energy companies will also benefit from the implementation of this policy, as their job offerings will be centralized and easy to find.
The Green Jobs Career Ladder will increase the penetration of renewable energies in the Connecticut energy mix. Increased use of renewables will dramatically lower energy costs for consumers and businesses, reduce air pollution and associated public health problems, and factor heavily into meeting Connecticut’s emissions targets.
The Green Jobs Career Ladder is a simple policy mechanism which will have an outsize impact. On behalf of the CT League of Conservation Voters, I urge you to VOTE YES ON HB 5828.
Thank you for considering this testimony as you deliberate HB 5828.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify IN SUPPORT of HB 5910, An Act Limiting the Use of Polyfluoroalkyl Chemicals in Certain Products.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAs) are strongly linked to testicular and kidney cancer, liver damage, hormone disruption, increases in cholesterol, thyroid disruption, asthma, reproductive disorders including infertility, low birth weight, and decreased response to vaccines. Despite these dangers, PFAs continue to be used in firefighting foam, nonstick cookware; water-repellent clothing; stain resistant fabrics and carpets; some cosmetics; products that resist grease; water, and oil; food packaging; and food service ware.
There are more than 4,000 PFAs in use today, and their prevalence has caused pollution in over 94 sites. PFAs have been found in the tap water of millions of homes across the United States. Furthermore, the United States Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) found that PFAs were more harmful than previously thought and that supposed “safe levels” were 10 times less than previously thought.
Additionally, PFAs do not break down easily and remain in the environment or the human body for years. PFAs can leak out of landfills or industrial sites, endangering entire populations. It is time for Connecticut to step up and ban PFAs. On behalf of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, I urge you to VOTE YES ON HB 5910.
Thank you for considering this testimony as you deliberate on HB 5910.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify IN SUPPORT OF SB 771, An Act Adding Requirements for Electric Vehicle Charging Parking Spaces to the State Building Code.
At the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, we are deeply committed to our “Clean Energy For All” campaign, which garnered support from thousands of residents and over one hundred lawmakers in 2018. In order to achieve the initiative’s stated goal of 100% clean energy by 2050, Connecticut must begin rapidly adopting measures to encourage the efficient electrification of public and private vehicles.
Transportation accounts for roughly 38% of Connecticut’s greenhouse gas emissions, and is a significant contributor to air pollution. Electric vehicles (EVs) reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 75% compared to traditional gasoline engines, and are therefore a critical component to reducing our emissions and improving our air quality.
Low-income communities are often disproportionately impacted by air pollution, making electric vehicles even more important for improving public health for the most vulnerable among us. The American Lung Association estimates that shifting to EVs and other zero emission vehicles will save Connecticut $1.3 billion in health and climate saving and reduce premature deaths and heart attacks.
In order to meet Connecticut’s mandated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 45% of 2001 levels by 2030, we would have to put roughly 500,000 zero emission vehicles on the road. This requires planning and forethought now.
Most EV drivers “charge where they park,” with approximately 90% of EV charging taking place at home and work. The remaining 10% occurs at a variety of commercial locations. Connecticut needs a cost-effective way to meet the charging needs of EV drivers and prepare for the greater numbers of EVs to come.
Constructing buildings with the requisite electrical infrastructure is significantly less expensive than retrofitting buildings after the fact. A cost-model for the city of San Francisco, which has adopted similar building codes, found the price of retrofitting EV parking spaces was two to six times more expensive than installing the infrastructure during initial construction. Between 2020 and 2025, California will save up to $310 million due to similar building codes.
Buildings being constructed today will last several decades at least. During their lifespan, it is highly likely that EVs will become the dominant mode of personal travel. Instead of waiting for this eventuality—thus incurring the higher costs of retrofitting—buildings should be required to preemptively adapt. In this sense, SB 771 is a cost-saving measure.
The presence of EV related infrastructure will also help assuage potential EV owner’s concerns about access to charging. This will in turn spur greater investment in EVs, decreasing Connecticut’s overall emissions and helping us maintain better air quality and fight climate change. It is truly a win-win that will make it easier to drive and ride electric in Connecticut.
Connecticut already has an EV ready building code for residential garages, but it is too broad and has not been enforced effectively. Adding requirements for residential and multi-family dwellings is critical to achieving maximum EV deployment.
Over fifty state and local governments have adopted similar legislation, including California, Oregon, Washington, Atlanta, Denver, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and San Francisco. Connecticut should join these governments and further cement our status as a clean energy leader. On behalf of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, I urge you to VOTE YES on SB 771.
Thank you for considering this testimony as you deliberate on SB 771.
Elephant and rhinoceros poaching is a brutal practice in which tusks and horns are harvested off the faces of sometimes still-living animals. Poachers have also killed over one thousand park rangers across the globe in their relentless pursuit of illicit ivory.
The international ivory trade has been linked to both organized crime and terrorist organizations. President Obama recognized wildlife trafficking, of which the ivory trade is a part, as an escalating global crisis in 2013. In 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order to strengthen law enforcement efforts in combating wildlife trafficking and other transnational crimes.
Despite federal laws restricting wildlife trafficking, ivory and other illicit products continue to be smuggled into local and state markets. Therefore, we must have state laws to compliment federal laws and close loopholes.
In 2016, federal authorities inspected more than 183,000 shipments of wildlife products. Despite these efforts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services believe a significant amount of elephant ivory continues to be illegally imported. They also noted that federal law does not regulate commercial activities that occur entirely within a state. HB 5394 would close intrastate loopholes and make law enforcement’s job easier by complimenting federal action.
New York and New Jersey have passed laws to this effect, and Connecticut must join them in passing a state ban to stop ivory traffickers. As neighboring states take measures to combat wildlife trafficking, products like ivory inevitably move to states with weaker laws and regulations.
It is important to note that HB 5394 would NOT criminalize possession of ivory currently owned by Connecticut residents nor prohibit inheritance or noncommercial gifts. It would also not restrict the sale of genuine antiques or musical instruments that meet specific requirements. It would simply make it harder for criminals to move illicit ivory through our state, and therefore we urge you to vote YES on HB 5394.
Thank you for considering this testimony as you deliberate on HB 5394.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify IN SUPPORT of HB 5251, An Act Prohibiting the Possession and Trade of Shark Fins.
The practice of shark finning is brutal, wasteful, and extraordinarily disruptive to our ocean ecosystems. Shark fins are removed while the animal is still alive. They are then thrown back into the ocean and left to die painful deaths from shock, blood loss, and starvation, results in the deaths of tens of millions of sharks each year.
Harvested fins are used to make shark fin soup, a delicacy in many parts of the world—and a dish served off-menu or on “secret menus” at some Connecticut establishments.
Sharks are a stabilizing predator in a variety of ocean ecosystems, but because of shark finning, numerous species have been pushed to the brink of extinction. Without them, other populations of fish can expand exponentially, disrupting natural processes and threatening commercial fishing resources.
The practice of shark finning is banned nationwide, but the trade of shark fins has been allowed to continue in most states, including Connecticut. By allowing the trade and use of shark fins, Connecticut implicitly supports the global shark fin trade.
A 2017 letter from over one hundred marine scientists demanded a ban on the trade or possession of shark fins for ecological and moral reasons. In addition, eleven states have banned the trade or possession of shark fins, including our neighbors, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York. It is time for Connecticut to do the same.
By instituting this ban on shark fin possession and trade, Connecticut will do its part to stabilize our ocean ecosystems and stop the horrific practice of finning.
In conjunction with the Humane Society of Connecticut, the Connecticut League of Conservation voters supports the following amendment to HB 5251:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened: Section 1. Title 26 of the general statutes entitled “FISHERIES AND GAME,” Chapter 490 (“Fisheries and Game”), is amended by adding thereto the following new part:
PART X – TRADE IN SHARK FINS 26-186b. Definitions. As used in this part:
“Shark” means any species of the subclass Elasmobranchii; and
“Shark fin” means the raw, dried, or otherwise processed detached fin, or the raw, dried, or otherwise processed detached tail, of a shark.
Except as provided in this part no person shall possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute a shark fin.
A person who holds a license or permit to take or land sharks may separate a shark fin from a lawfully landed shark during the ordinary course of preparing the body of the shark for consumption, sale, trade, or distribution; provided, however, that a shark fin so separated from the shark shall be immediately destroyed unless used by the person for the purposes of taxidermy and subsequent display.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection may issue a permit for the possession of a shark fin to a person conducting noncommercial, scientific research.
A shark fin seized by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection through the enforcement of this section shall be destroyed.
26-186d. Penalty. Any person who violates any provision of this part shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Each shark fin possessed, sold, offered for sale, traded, or distributed in violation of this part shall constitute a separate offense.
Section 2. This Act shall take effect six (6) months after the date on which it is enacted.
Section 3. The provisions of this chapter are in addition to, and not in lieu of, any other laws protecting imperiled species. This chapter may not be construed to limit any other state laws protecting imperiled species or to prevent a local governing body from adopting and enforcing more stringent laws to protect imperiled species.
Section 4. If any provision or clause of this Act or application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.
Thank you for considering this testimony as you deliberate on HB 5251.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify IN SUPPORT OF SB 20, An Act Prohibiting the Import, Sale, and Possession of African Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Black Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros, and Giraffes.
Poaching has decimated the population of African elephants, lions, leopards, black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros, and giraffes. These animals are critical to maintaining the ecological biodiversity of their regions. Additionally, elephants, lions, leopards, rhinoceros and giraffes are important cogs in local tourist economies.
Illegal poaching is a major source of funding for criminal organizations and terrorist groups. Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist group closely linked to ISIL, is responsible for an estimated 25,000 elephant deaths over the past ten years. The Lord’s Resistance Army, led by infamous murderer Joseph Kony, has poached hundreds of elephants in order to fund their operations. In 2013, President Obama recognized wildlife trafficking as an escalating global crisis.
Many trophy hunters claim the money they spend goes towards local conservation efforts, therefore offsetting their actions. But the evidence contradicts their claim. A study found that only 3% of trophy hunting revenue is used for conservation related activities. Additionally, trophy hunting enables illegal poaching by creating a legal market for poachers to sell their goods. Since South Africa began allowing trophy hunting in 2004, poaching has increased by over 5000%.
The majority of lions killed for sport can be attributed to American tourists. From 2005-2015, Connecticut residents killed thirty-nine lions and one giraffe, then proceeded to import their trophies. Additional permits were obtained by Connecticut residents to hunt and kill African elephants in Botswana, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
The United States currently has no protections in place for giraffes and insufficient protection in place for African elephants, lions, leopards and rhinoceros. Connecticut must step up and do its part to protect delicate ecosystems, thwart illegal poachers, stabilize local economies, and cut off funding to terrorist and criminal groups.
On behalf of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voter, I urge you to VOTE YES ON SB 20, and pass a statewide ban on the import, sale and possession of the “big five” species.
Thank you for your consideration as you deliberate on SB 20.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify in OPPOSITION to HB 5185, An Act Concerning Consent Orders Entered into by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Consent orders are an important tool that allows the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to work out an agreement with violators of environmental laws so long as they adhere to conditions of the agreement. Consent orders are a valuable incentive for offenders to remedy their actions and reduce their financial liability to the state.
In the past, CTLCV has strongly opposed similar efforts to eliminate consent orders. Most recently, in 2018, a similar bill would have eliminated consent orders retroactively—allowing a particular bad actor to escape punishment after it entered a consent order, failed to act on the agreement, and lied about its effort to remedy its offense. Eliminating the DEEP Commissioner’s ability to revoke consent orders would have allowed that polluter to escape punishment for serious wrongdoing. Fortunately, this bill died when lawmakers realized the damage it would do to DEEP’s ability to enforce environmental protections and hold violators accountable.
Eliminating consent orders would make it harder to protect our air, water, and natural resources from pollution. DEEP’s ability to monitor and enforce existing laws is already hampered by significant reductions to its budget and staff. Consent orders allow DEEP to work with violators on solutions to their offenses, operating more efficiently and to the benefit of all parties involved.
Consent orders are NOT contracts, but rather agreements between violators and DEEP. They are to the benefit of offenders, and their elimination would result in violators simply being slapped with heavy fines and other punishments.
HB 5185 would undermine DEEP’s authority and likely lead to more legal battles in our already backlogged judiciary branch. It is a deeply misguided bill, and we at CTLCV urge you to VOTE NO on HB 5185.
We appreciate your effort to cast your votes with the protection of our environment in mind.
Thank you for your consideration as you deliberate on HB 5185.