DEEP’s Harmful Reporting Measures Narrowly Survive Committee Vote

05.02.2013
Issues & Policies

The Judiciary Committee this week narrowly approved parts of SB 1082 (Sections 2 and 3) that are widely opposed by businesses, municipal economic development agencies, and brownfield development and environmental professionals–but supported by the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Turning the state’s program for identifying and addressing imminent environmental hazards into a historic contamination reporting program, these sections will:

  • Unnecessarily stigmatize hundreds of properties that have some contamination but are not creating imminent risks
  • Create disincentives for environmental investigation
  • Add to Connecticut’s already lengthy list of brownfields
  • Stunt economic development 

Chilling Effect

The sections “will have a chilling effect on [real estate] deals,” said Rep. Jeff Berger (D-Waterbury), “and will create more brownfields when [DEEP] can’t even handle the ones we have now.” 

After all the progress Connecticut has made on brownfields in the state, he added, “this would set us back 7 or 8 years.” 

Many others on the committee echoed Berger’s concerns as Sen. Ed Meyer (D-Guilford)–with the assistance of DEEP staff–defended the sections.

Characterizing the measures as simply “make-safe” provisions that would not require remediation of the properties, Sen. Meyer’s defense of the measures reflected DEEP’s disregard for the opinions offered by a wide variety of experts regarding the real-world negative implications of the measures.  

DEEP also continues to struggle when asked why they insist on proposing these actions now with a 2015 implementation date, when the agency will be revising its cleanup regulations over the coming year and coming to the legislature in 2014 with comprehensive legislative changes based on those revised cleanup rules and standards. 

Ultimately, an amendment introduced by Rep. Tom O’Dea (R-New Canaan) to strike the two sections failed on a 20-17 vote. The bill in its original form was then approved by the committee and now heads back to the Senate for further action, including possible referrals to other committees for further consideration.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 or eric.brown@cbia.com.

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