What began as an initiative to remove barriers to brownfield redevelopment in Connecticut has mushroomed into an expansive effort that could transform how the state identifies contaminated properties as well as the rules and standards owners of those properties must comply with.

DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty has charged his staff with finding “a more efficient, streamlined and result-oriented approach for dealing with these, at times, complex projects.” 

But the process underway is no mere leaning of the current cleanup requirements.  Instead, DEEP is considering vastly expanding the range of current and historic spills that must be reported to the agency while promising that the expansion of this regulatory net will not result in further impediments to getting brownfields cleaned up.

DEEP says the process for getting sites cleaned up will be clearer, more self-implementing, and quicker—which will benefit both DEEP and the regulated community .

To accomplish this ambitious task, the agency has set up several work groups to help it craft the framework of the new system. These groups will focus on:

·        Defining liability (who is responsible for what)

·        Identifying reportable releases (what are the triggers for reporting a release)

·        Clarifying the role of private-sector environmental professionals

·        Finding ways to quickly address cleanup obligations

·        Dealing with sites currently in the cleanup process

·        Exploring how to change the state’s cleanup standards

Key concern

A key concern for the business community is that the process for expanding the spill-reporting net would largely be accomplished through new legislation, perhaps as soon as the next session, starting in January.

But the other vital part--streamlining cleanup requirements--would largely have to be accomplished through regulatory changes. That’s a much slower process that first failed about two years ago after a nearly three-year effort to gain consensus among a variety of stakeholders.

Expanding the net (through legislation) without simultaneously streamlining the process (through regulation) is an unacceptable outcome. It would overwhelm DEEP as well as the regulated community and make the process for getting brownfields revitalized even more cumbersome than it is today.

While some relatively minor consensus measures from that past effort are just beginning to move through the regulatory adoption process now (public hearing on Oct. 25), the most difficult discussions will take many months or possibly more than a year to complete.

CBIA, through its Environmental Policies Council members, is participating on all the DEEP workgroups and will be closely involved in both the legislative and regulatory components of this matter. 

For more information on the DEEP’s cleanup transformation initiative or CBIA’s Environmental Policies Council, contact Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 or eric.brown@cbia.com.