DEEP Preparing Major Bill to Reform Cleanup Rules
After months of intense discussions with a wide variety of stakeholders, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is moving forward to draft legislation it characterizes as a comprehensive transformation of Connecticut’s environmental cleanup laws and regulations.
The initiative stems from part of last year’s major brownfield legislation (Public Act 11-141), which directs DEEP to conduct a review and develop proposals to achieve “a more streamlined or efficient remediation process.”
DEEP spent much of the remainder of 2011 organizing and staffing stakeholder work groups that studied many issues related to the agency’s myriad cleanup programs. They finalized a report in December evaluating the programs and outlining a framework for improvement.
While specifics of the legislative proposal are still being developed, CBIA has strongly urged the agency to keep the language and spirit of PA 11-141 as its guiding priority: legislation that will ensure the continued protection of human health and the environment–but in a much more efficient way that also will stimulate economic and job growth.
This can be accomplished by clarifying and simplifying the process for getting historic contamination cleaned up through a risk-based, self-implementing, priority-driven, and market-focused system.
Some, however, see the initiative as an opportunity to establish deadlines, substantial penalties and heavy-handed government oversight of a significantly expanded universe of environmental releases–including small spills of nonhazardous substances that pose little or no risk to human health or the environment.
Such an approach would quickly overwhelm DEEP’s spill response resources, which are already burdened with thousands of unnecessary calls annually because of the agency’s flawed interpretation of current state law (DEEP expects spills of any material in any location to be reported to the agency, even though the law specifies only spills posing a potential threat to human health or the environment be reported).
This approach also would force property owners, including municipalities, that own property with contamination caused by historic activities through no fault of their own, to not only clean it up (which they unfairly have to do under current law) but do so on an aggressive timetable—with stiff penalties for failure to meet deadlines. That would result in major, unanticipated expenses at a time when most businesses are struggling to survive the recent recession.
DEEP and lawmakers should make sure not reverse the recent progress in improving Connecticut’s historically poor reputation as a state to invest in – especially regarding brownfield redevelopment.
CBIA will continue to work with DEEP, the legislature and other stakeholders towards positive changes to the state’s cleanup rules.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 or email@example.com.
EXPLORE BY CATEGORY
Stay Connected with CBIA News Digests
The latest news and information delivered directly to your inbox.