Transfer Act Overhaul Needs Broader Collaboration, Time
CBIA this week called for revisions to legislative proposals replacing the state’s Transfer Act with a release-based property remediation program.
For years, Connecticut’s Transfer Act has deterred out-of-state investments and stifled in-state entity transactions.
Enacted in 1985, the act puts buyers on notice when they acquired properties with a history of hazardous waste generation.
The act further allocates the responsibility for any necessary investigation or remediation to the buyer or seller.
Since its adoption, more than 7,000 filings have been made, and many sites have been appropriately cleaned up.
But the law also has many ambiguities and inconsistencies that overly complicated these transactions.
Connecticut is one of only two states in the country with this statute, creating a competitive disadvantage for attracting private sector investment.
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection commissioner Katie Dykes this week said “it’s time for the Transfer Act to go.”
“It’s not delivering on economic development and it’s not really delivering on environmental outcomes,” she told employers attending Connecticut Business Day March 4.
While there is bipartisan consensus the act must be amended, discussions are still taking place regarding those changes.
The Transfer Act Working Group has proposed many of the changes featured in SB 281.
In addition to amending the Transfer Act, the bill also establishes a release-based program by July 2021, or at such time as DEEP promulgates regulations.
Lawmakers are also considering SB 293, a stand alone release-based remediation measure.
CBIA’s Eric Brown told a joint meeting of the legislature’s Environment Committee and Commerce Committee March 5 employers support sections 1-5 of SB 281, while calling for subsequent sections to be removed.
Brown said employer groups support transitioning Connecticut away from the Transfer Act and toward adoption of a released-based remediation system.
He told lawmakers the complexities involved in transitioning to a release-based system demanded broader public-private collaboration and a more comprehensive approach.
“Various other states operate under a release-based system, which the business community broadly supports in concept, but as is often the case, the devil is in the details,” he said.
“For a release-based program to serve the needs of businesses and address environmental concerns, the regulations would need to address reportable quantities, reportable concentrations, and reporting procedures in great detail.”
Many of the suggested proposals for the legislation are taken from Massachusetts’ model, which Brown said took five years to develop.
“We remain convinced that recent discussions are a good start to the journey of achieving the 2021 and 2022 goals in a two-phased process,” Brown said.
“Rushing to put in place the statutory foundation for this seismic transformation of Connecticut’s environmental reporting and cleanup programs could be disastrous for the state of Connecticut from both an environmental and economic perspective.”
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