Both the state House and Senate are considering a variety of environmental-related bills—including some that will help our economy and others that will hurt Connecticut businesses.

In the Senate

Stopping abuse

The most economy-friendly environmental bill in the Senate is SB 343. It’s designed to curb abuse of Connecticut’s Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) by individuals whose aim is to stop or slow down any economic development, without any factual basis that the project would unreasonably impair the environment. 

The bill would require anyone making such an allegation to provide a sworn statement of the material facts that support their allegations.That’s a very reasonable burden to put on any person or business making such an allegation.

Predictably, some advocates refuse to consider any changes to CEPA, even modest and sensible ones like the ones proposed in SB 343. Hopefully, the full legislature will not favor the environmental alarmists and instead support this bill which has already been approved by the Planning & Development and Judiciary committees.

Regulatory fairness

SB 222 is another good bill that would create a Regulatory Fairness Board to advise the Department of Economic and Community Development on enforcement and regulation matters of concern to small businesses. The board will create an annual report with suggestions for regulatory reform.

Harmful measures

Environmental bills in the Senate that would hurt Connecticut businesses include SB 89, which saddles Connecticut manufacturers and retailers with the burden of paying for the disposal of used mattresses.

The market for the recycling of used mattresses is growing and Connecticut could be a leader in this area. Encouraging manufacturers, retailers, recyclers and trash haulers to work together to sponsor consumer education initiatives and mattress recycling events to build awareness and streamline the process for mattress recycling is a good way to do that. 

Consideration could also be given to having these industries create and promote a code of best practices for mattress disposal and recycling, especially for large-volume consumers such as hotels, government agencies, universities and others.

Lawmakers should be open to market-based solutions. SB 89 should be rejected because it includes outrageous $50,000 per day penalties for manufacturers and retailers that fail to comply. SB 89 is headed to the Judiciary Committee which, at a minimum, should strip the bill of these business-hostile penalties.

In the House

Promoting brownfields

Another measure designed to help foster further development of brownfields is making its way from the Commerce Committee toward a vote in the House.  HB 5342 calls for further financial assistance to clean up these properties through grant and loan programs. It also makes improvements to last year’s landmark brownfield liability reform bill.

Streamlining permitting

HB 5344 helps streamline stormwater permitting in Connecticut which would expedite environmental permitting for economic development projects. It allows qualified engineering professionals to certify that stormwater plans meet state requirements--thereby avoiding the need to burden DEEP with time-consuming engineering reviews.

Problematic labeling

On the downside, HB 5117 is a well-intentioned but very problematic bill that requires the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Among the legal and even constitutional problems with the bill is that federal labeling laws are intended for established health risks--not for purposes of the public’s “right-to-know” which is the primary argument of the advocates. Consumers seeking non-genetically engineered foods in the marketplace can already be assured of acquiring them by purchasing certified organic products. 

For more information about all environmental-related bills, contact CBIA’s Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 or eric.brown@cbia.com.