Environment Bill Puts Cart before the Horse

03.14.2013
Issues & Policies

Just weeks ago, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) released a draft report in response to legislation passed in 2011 and 2012 seeking to streamline the agency’s confusing and cumbersome cleanup programs. 

For years the legislature and governor have made brownfield revitalization a priority because of its economic and environmental benefits. They also wanted to find out what can be done to make significantly more progress in this area and directed DEEP to develop a report identifying the barriers to revitalizing brownfields.

DEEP and the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) have made brownfields a priority as well. But DEEP has seen the legislative directives as an opportunity to significantly expand the number of sites, spills and historic conditions that get pulled into its currently flawed cleanup programs. 

Fortunately, DEEP has said it agrees with the business, municipal and economic development communities that it must first fix the foundational regulation that all of those programs are based on–the so-called Remediation Standard Regulations (RSRs)–before it can expand the universe of sites in its cleanup programs. The agency plans to fix the RSRs over the next year.

Surprisingly, then, DEEP has also requested the Environment Committee to raise a bill for public hearing on Friday, March 22, that completely contradicts the “fix it first” approach. 

SB 1082 seeks to change the current program that’s designed to quickly address imminent environmental hazards by significantly diluting the common understanding of the term “imminent”–and increase by at least ten-fold the number of sites in the program. 

Specifically, SB 1082 drastically decreases the concentration threshold for this program by 66% and increases the depth below the surface to which this new threshold applies by 500%.

What’s more, DEEP has not provided any scientific justification for the reduction of these thresholds, nor has the agencyexplained why this drastic change needs to be implemented now, before the bulk of its transformation process, including revision of the RSRs, is complete.

CBIA is urging the Environment Committee and DEEP to pull these sections from SB 1082 and recommit to the key principle of comprehensively fixing the RSRs before expanding the number of sites subject to these currently flawed regulations that are impeding the goal of brownfield revitalization.

For more information about DEEP’s cleanup transformation initiative or SB 1082, please contact Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 or eric.brown@cbia.com. 

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