Public Notice Bill Could Impact Permit Process, Costs
State lawmakers are considering legislation that could significantly impact both permit costs and processing times.
SB 1147 increases the public notice period for affected facilities in environmental justice communities, including solid waste transfer stations, resource recovery facilities, chemical recycling facilities, and facilities with a diversion of more than two million gallons of water per day.
The bill requires an assessment of environmental or public health stressors for any new facility or an expansion of an affected facility before even beginning the permitting application process.
The assessment also must include adverse stressors that cannot be avoided if a permit is granted and stressors already borne by the community.
SB 1147 mandates increased public awareness of expansions or construction, requiring facilities to post on electronic media, including relevant web sites and social media platforms, provide notification through physical mail in all languages spoken by 15% of the population to households within a half mile radius, host a public meeting to gather and submit comments with an audio recording of the meeting to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Neither DEEP nor the Connecticut Siting Council cannot take any action on a permit application, license, or certificate without the approval of the public participation report.
CBIA’s Ashley Zane told the legislature’s Environment Committee that the bill “opens the door to confusion and subjectivity.”
“This bill adds additional expenses and time to complete expansions or construction,” she testified March 10.
“It also does not include any consideration for the economic impact it would have on these communities.
“What company, especially manufacturing, biopharma, or biotech, will ever consider expanding or moving into these communities knowing the barriers to entry?”
Zane noted that the state’s permitting process can take three to twelve months, depending on the complexity and the type of permit.
“While the intent behind this bill, which is geared towards increased transparency in communities that experience significant effects of various environmental stressors, the unintended consequences could greatly impact these communities and result in worse outcomes,” she said.
Pullman & Comley’s Lee Hoffman told the committee that facilities, “should they choose to go through additional permitting processes, will be forced to incur significant costs to comply.”
“Those costs are going to manifest themselves in increased sewage fees or increased costs to heat homes or drive cars,” said Hoffman, who also chairs CBIA’s E2: Energy & Environment Council.
“As Connecticut moves to a zero-carbon future, it will not be the Tesla drivers that will bear the brunt of the costs of these initiatives.
“Iit will be those who live in our cities with antiquated sewage treatment plants or who cannot afford the latest in transportation technology who will suffer the most.”
For more information, contact CBIA’s Ashley Zane (860.244.1169) | @AshleyZane9.
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