Climate Change the Focus for Environmental Policy
Environmental policy made an appearance across various legislative committees in the 2022 legislative session, focusing on climate change mitigation efforts with both the carrot and stick approach.
CBIA had an active role in environment-related bills and supported efforts that incentivized cleaner alternatives, and actively worked against mandates or policies that were unworkable or significantly increase business costs.
The Environment Committee approved a series of bills addressing climate resiliency, including:
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
SB 10: This bill requires the state to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from electricity supplied to electric customers in the state by Jan. 1, 2040. The bill establishes this requirement as an emissions reduction goal under the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act.
The state must reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sources to a level at least:
- 10% below the level emitted in 1990 by Jan. 1, 2020
- 45% below the level emitted in 2001 by Jan. 1, 2030
- 80% below the level emitted in 2001 by Jan. 1, 2050
The bill also requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity supplied to electric customers in the state to zero percent by Jan. 1, 2040.
A major bill of contention this year was SB 4, which has multiple components, including:
- Requiring the state vehicle fleet to be entirely electric by Jan. 1, 2030 with the exemption of emergency vehicles
- Establishes “right to charge” provisions for unit owners in condominiums and common interest communities
- Creates new construction requirements for state buildings to include level two EV charging stations in at least 20% of parking spaces designated for cars or light-duty trucks
- Exempts from property tax level two EV charging stations located on commercial or industrial property, EV charging stations located on residential property, refueling equipment for fuel cell electric vehicles, and zero-emission school buses.
- Makes the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate program permanent, expanding eligibility to businesses, nonprofits, and municipalities, and allowing the use of electric bicycles
- Increases CHEAPR funding to $5.2 million using a portion of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative proceeds allocated to the Green Bank
- DEEP may create, within available appropriations, a voucher program for class 5-13 trucks
- Eliminates the reduced registration fee for EVs and instead subjects them to the same registration fee that applies to other passenger motor vehicles
- Requires the Department of Transportation to establish a matching grant program to help municipalities modernize existing traffic signal equipment and operations
- Authorizes the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to adopt regulations implementing California’s medium- and heavy-duty motor vehicle standards in Connecticut. It requires these regulations, to be amended whenever the California standards change. The Connecticut regulations may incorporate by reference the California Air Resources Board’s adopted regulations.
CBIA strong supports SB 4’s provisions providing incentives for businesses that want to transition fleets to electric vehicles as well as the property tax exemption for EV charging stations.
California Emissions Standards
However, CBIA strongly opposed the provision in the bill allowing DEEP to adopt the California emissions standards for medium to heavy duty trucks.
This will lead to increased costs for businesses and a lack of regulatory certainty if California makes changes that do not align with Connecticut.
DEEP would then need to go through the regulatory review process, which in most cases takes months to change the state’s regulations.
Additionally, this bill will not stop “dirty” trucks from entering our state.
Out-of-state trucks are not required to comply with the regulations when traveling through our state—putting Connecticut trucking companies at a competitive disadvantage with other states around the country or forcing them to find creative solutions.
SB 243: This bill was included in the budget bill in sections 145-146 and allows the Department of Agriculture to pay in advance or reimburse any farmer for part of the cost of compliance with a comprehensive farm nutrient management plan or a farm resources management plan.
Additionally, the bill allows the commissioner to pay up to 50% of the above amounts in advance. It also explicitly allows a farmer to seek this advance payment or reimbursement for farm equipment purchases under a farm resources management or farmland restoration and climate resiliency plan.
The Environment Committee at the beginning of session looked to pass a series of extended producer responsibility bills including:
SB 115: Creates an extended producer responsibility stewardship for consumer packaging.
HB 5139: Requires the establishment of a statewide stewardship program to manage certain discarded tires. The bill requires tire producers to join a nonprofit stewardship organization which must develop a plan to implement the program which must, in turn, be submitted to DEEP for approval.
Under the bill, gas cylinder producers must be part of an approved and implemented stewardship program by Oct. 1, 2025.
The bill prohibits producers who fail to participate in an approved gas cylinder stewardship plan from supplying, selling, or offering gas cylinders for sale in Connecticut, including through electronic means.
Supplying also includes leasing, donating, or otherwise making available or distributing.
A plan for a gas stewardship program must be submitted to DEEP for approval by July 1, 2023.
Among other things, a plan must minimize public sector involvement in managing discarded gas cylinders.
Of these three bills, HB 5142 passed the House and Senate unanimously. SB 115 and HB 5139 did not make it out of the legislative process by the General Assembly’s May 5 deadline.
Waste continues to be a topic of discussion for the committee.
The budget included provisions surrounding solid waste management. Section 162 requires DEEP within available resources to develop and implement a program to support solid waste reduction strategies.
These reduction strategies supported by the program must be consistent with the state’s Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy.
The bill includes the reduction strategies recommended by the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management in its Dec. 23, 2020, Menu of Options document with those supported by DEEP’s program.
Bikeways, Pedestrian Trails
Within the bonding section of the budget, the legislature increased bond funds by $3 million for Connecticut bikeways, pedestrian walkways, recreational trails, and greenway grant programs.
This concept was also in HB 5291 which CBIA supported. Increasing bikeways expands access to careers and opportunities to individuals who cannot afford a car.
Owning a car comes with significant costs, while accessing a bikeway has significantly less costs.
We need to ensure that these options are safe and expansive enough to create a more inclusive workforce and help reduce barriers to entry into the workforce.
Within the budget, the legislature included provisions from SB 240, which allows the DEEP commissioner to establish a salt commercial applicator certificate program.
Under the bill, commercial applicators may annually register with DEEP and certify that they received the roadside applicator training conducted by DEEP, DOT, and the University of Connecticut, and any other training the agency requires and complies with the regulation’s policies and goals about applying salt.
A “commercial applicator” is anyone who applies, or supervises others applying, salt or salt alternatives on roadways, parking lots, or sidewalks for winter maintenance.
It excludes municipal, state, and state political subdivision employees.
Under the bill, a business that employs multiple commercial applicators may make an organizational certification for its owner or chief supervisor and applicators employed by the business.
A business with an organizational certification must ensure that all applicators operating under it receive the required training and keep records on behalf of all of its applicators.
The Energy and Technology Committee passed SB 277, which creates a working group to study and make recommendations for short-term and long term solutions following the closing of the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority plant.
This will lead to increased TIP fees and committee leadership is planning on making waste disposal a primary issue for the 2023 legislative session.
The legislature also passed SB 238, which makes changes to the pesticide application process.
The DEEP commissioner shall issue a renewal notice 60 days prior to the expiration of a certification and if the renewal is not received, the certification will automatically lapse.
The commissioner may renew any certification that has lapsed less than one year, provided the holder of such certification submits to the commissioner a signed renewal application, payment of the applicable renewal fee, and any late fee.
Any holder of a certification that has lapsed one year or more shall be examined in accordance with the requirements of this section and any regulation adopted pursuant to the provisions of this section.
The bill decreases the registration fee from $940 to $188 per calendar year and the commissioner may register a pesticide for one or five years.
There will be no refund of a registration fee if a product is voluntarily withdrawn or canceled before the end of its registration period.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Lastly, the bill makes changes required to become an agreement state under the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as passed last year.
CBIA applauds the committee’s leadership regarding SB 238, which will greatly streamline the Nuclear Regulatory process in the state and for leadership’s ability to remove a section of the original bill that would have allowed DEEP to charge an annual fee for general permits.
This could have cost businesses up to $3 million annually.
Release-Based Working Group
The Commerce Committee stepped into the environmental policy arena, passing HB 5124, which requires DEEP and the Department of Economic and Community Development to provide the Release-Based Working Group a copy of proposed regulations prior to being posted on the eRegulations platform.
This is critical to ensuring the regulations capture the intent of the work done by over 60 members of the working group composed of LEPs, attorneys, and various stakeholders.
CBIA applauds the leadership of both the Commerce and Environment Committees for passing this bill.
CBIA will continue to focus on regulatory reform and continue to work with the its E2: Energy and Environment Council to draft and ensure impactful environmental policy.
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