United States: Update On Environmental Legislative Developments: The Connecticut General Assembly's 2014 Regular Session

This update provides an overview of selected environmental bills before the Connecticut General Assembly during its 2014 regular session. Should you have questions or comments regarding legislative developments in the environmental and land use arenas, please feel free to contact any of the attorneys listed in the sidebar.

Brownfields Remediation & Connecticut's Property Transfer Law

Public Act No. 14-88, which was signed by Gov. Malloy on June 3, supplements existing compliance options when investigating and remediating environmental conditions as required by the Remediation Standard Regulations of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The Act provides that participants in Connecticut's voluntary cleanup program may submit interim verifications to DEEP. Interim verifications demonstrate to DEEP that a site has been investigated and remediated in accordance with DEEP standards, except that the selected remedy, although in operation, has not yet achieved compliance with groundwater standards. The Act also provides for partial site verification - both interim and final - by a Licensed Environmental Professional (LEP), in lieu of requiring investigation and remediation of the entire site before the LEP's submittal of a verification under the voluntary remediation program.

The Act expands the authority of the commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to modify the terms of brownfield loans to forgive or delay repayment made to private parties, not just municipalities and economic development entities.

The Act modifies the Connecticut property transfer law (the "Transfer Act"). Removed or abated building materials (e.g., asbestos) are excluded from the calculation of monthly hazardous waste generation when determining whether or not the Transfer Act applies to a transaction. Lastly, properties that municipalities take by eminent domain, and a municipality's subsequent conveyance of these properties to another party, are exempted from the Transfer Act.

Effective Date: Effective from passage.
Signed by Governor: June 3, 2014.

Water Planning Council

Public Act No. 14-163 requires that the state's Water Planning Council (WPC) prepare a state water plan by July 1, 2017. This plan replaces the long-range plan that DEEP, the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) previously were required to prepare.

Per the Act, the state water plan will:

  • identify the quantities and qualities of water, considering both surface water and groundwater;
  • identify present and projected water demands;
  • recommend the use of Connecticut's water resources, including surface and subsurface water;
  • recommend steps to increase climate resiliency;
  • recommend technology and infrastructure upgrades;
  • account for a variety of water body uses;
  • inform Connecticut residents about the importance of water resource stewardship and conservation;
  • establish conservation guidelines and consumer incentives with due consideration for energy efficiency;
  • develop a water reuse policy;
  • meet data needs for planning and permitting decisions;
  • account for ecological, environmental, public health, safety and economic impacts;
  • seek to incorporate regional and local plans;
  • promote intra-regional solutions and sharing of water resources;
  • develop and recommend strategies to address climate resiliency; and
  • identify modifications to laws and regulations necessary to implement the state water plan.

The Act also directs the DPH, along with the WPC, to study the feasibility of a licensure program to qualify water professionals to assist with compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Effective Date: Effective July 1, 2014, or as specified in the applicable provision.
Signed by Governor: Not as of the date of this writing.

Recycling and Materials Management

Public Act No. 14-94 creates the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (MIRA), the successor authority to the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority. The Act defines MIRA's purpose and authority.

The Act requires that the DEEP commissioner revise the statewide solid waste management plan to divert not less than 60 percent of the solid waste generated in the state after January 1, 2024. The Act requires that the DEEP commissioner, in consultation with MIRA, request proposals for the redevelopment of the Connecticut Solid Waste System Project.

The Act requires that the state electricity purchasing pool, operated by DEEP, solicit electric supplier proposals from Class II trash-to-energy facilities. The Act also mandates the development of new regulations pertaining to Connecticut building energy efficiency standards. These standards are to be based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's national energy rating system.

Effective Date: Effective from passage or as specified in the applicable provision.
Signed by Governor: Not as of the date of this writing.

Fracking Waste

Public Act No. 14-200 prohibits the storage and disposal of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") waste in Connecticut until DEEP promulgates licensing and disclosure procedures regulating fracking waste as hazardous waste. The prohibition applies to the acceptance, receipt, collection, storage, treatment, disposal and transfer between vehicles of any fracking waste. The prohibition also includes the sale, manufacture and distribution of deicing and dust-suppression materials derived from fracking waste.

Effective Date: July 1, 2014.
Signed by Governor: Not as of the date of this writing.

Pesticides at Schools

Senate Bill No. 0443, passed by the legislature but still awaiting a Public Act number, imposes restrictions on the application of pesticides to municipal parks, athletic fields, greens and playgrounds and establishes electronic public notice requirements for applications. The bill expands the existing ban on applying pesticides at schools with students in grade eight or lower to banning pesticide application at schools with students in grade 12 or lower, beginning in 2017.

Effective Date: Effective from passage.
Signed by Governor: Not as of the date of this writing.

Long Island Sound Inventory

Senate Bill No. 0312, passed by the legislature but still awaiting a Public Act number, requires that the OPM, in conjunction with the Long Island Sound Resource and Use Inventory and Blue Plan Advisory Committee, develop an inventory of Long Island Sound uses and natural resources. The inventory will be used in Connecticut's coastal management program.

Effective Date: Effective October 1, 2014.
Signed by Governor: Not as of the date of this writing.

Phosphorous Reduction

Public Act No. 14-13 expands eligibility for Clean Water Fund grants to municipalities with contracts entered into by July 1, 2018, that relate to certain phosphorus removal projects.

Effective Date: Effective from passage.
Signed by Governor: May 12, 2014.

State-Owned Property Conveyance

Public Act No. 14-169 authorizes the DEEP commissioner to establish a publicly accessible information map system and registry of all DEEP-owned "lands of public use and benefit" which the Act authorizes the DEEP commissioner to designate.

Effective Date: Effective from passage.
Signed by Governor: Not as of the date of this writing.

Shellfish

House Bill No. 5085, passed by the legislature but still awaiting a Public Act number, provides the Department of Agriculture commissioner discretion to deny renewal of a shellfish ground lease when the rent has not been paid. The commissioner must give a lessee 30 days' notice of the denial and allow 90 days for the lessee to vacate the leased premises. The bill also expands the penalties that currently apply only to oysters for the following activities: (i) stealing shellfish and injuring shellfish enclosures; and (ii) failure to initiate shellfish recalls. As passed, House Bill No. 5085 reduces the minimum size of eastern oysters that may be taken from Connecticut waters and allows up to 10 percent of an oyster take to include oysters that measure between 2.5 and 2.75 inches long.

Effective Date: Effective from passage or as specified in the applicable provision.
Signed by Governor: Not as of the date of this writing.

Cadmium in Children's Jewelry

Public Act No. 14-140 delays, until July 1, 2016, the ban on the manufacture, sale, offering for sale and distribution in Connecticut of any children's jewelry that contains cadmium at more than 0.0075 percent by weight.

Effective Date: Effective from passage.
Signed by Governor: Not as of the date of this writing.

Outdoor Woodburning Furnaces

Public Act No. 14-92 bans outdoor woodburning furnaces that do not meet certain requirements and prohibits the burning of any material in any such furnaces other than wood that is not chemically treated.

Effective Date: Effective from passage.
Signed by Governor: Not as of the date of this writing.

Abandoned Vessels

Public Act No. 14-57 revises certain procedures relating to the seizure and disposal of vessels abandoned on the waters of Connecticut. The Act defines waste oil and other hazardous materials stored on an abandoned vessel (that are incidental to its operation and maintenance) as household hazardous waste when the materials are removed in preparation for the storage, removal or destruction of the abandoned vessel.

Effective Date: Effective January 1, 2015.
Signed by Governor: May 28, 2014.

Cleanup of Certain Hazardous Waste

Public Act No. 14-153 authorizes the DEEP commissioner to accept less than full payment for costs and expenses incurred by DEEP in connection with the cleanup of certain hazardous wastes under limited circumstances.

Effective Date: Effective from passage.
Signed by Governor: Not as of the date of this writing.

Connecticut Port Authority

Public Act No. 14-222 establishes the Connecticut Port Authority (the "Authority"), which is charged with coordinating the development and marketing of Connecticut's ports. The Act also creates a Port Authority Working Group to advise the DECD on the powers and duties of the Authority. Further, the Act directs the DECD commissioner to develop a plan to transition certain maritime functions of the Department of Transportation and the Connecticut Maritime Commission to the Authority and to make recommendations for policies affecting the growth of Connecticut's ports.

Effective Date: Effective from passage or as specified in the applicable provision.
Signed by Governor: Not as of the date of this writing.

Vetoed Legislation: Glass and Elver Eels

Vetoed by the governor on May 30, Public Act No. 14-190 would have eliminated the current ban on, and associated fine for, the taking of glass and elver eels from Connecticut waters. The Act also would have required that DEEP adopt regulations for glass eel fishing by June 1, 2016.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Authors
Harold Blinderman
Michael L. Miller
 
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