Newsletter01.29.2019

2019 Connecticut Environmental Legislative Update No. 5

by Christopher P. McCormack

Welcome to our Environmental Legislative Updates.

Throughout Connecticut’s legislative session, these updates highlight developments concerning environmental law and policy. The author prepares updates as Legislative Liaison of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Environmental Law Section. Pullman & Comley is pleased to offer them in this format to a wider audience.

As the session proceeds, early updates will alert readers to proposals on a broad range of issues concerning the environment, narrowing focus over time on bills that continue to progress, and concluding with a post-session wrap-up of bills that pass as well as noteworthy also-rans. Along the way they’ll summarize and challenge arguments pro and con, examine the policy and science behind proposals, and occasionally cast a side glance at the vicissitudes and vagaries of the process. The views expressed will be the author’s own, not necessarily those of Pullman & Comley LLC.

Questions, comments, requests and suggestions are always welcome. Please email me at cmccormack@pullcom.com.

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A short list today. So which do you want to hear first, the good news or the bad news? Randomly selected internet resources suggest there are good reasons to start with bad news. Far be it from us to buck randomly selected internet resources.

So in bad news, or at least a bill about bad news, HB 5584 proposes to mandate an investigation into “the failure of the Hartford Regional Trash-to-Energy Facility.” Like reports of Mark Twain’s death, “failure” might be an exaggeration. But the facility has certainly had more than its share of bad luck, what with both turbines going down at once and trash accumulating on site. Not that the state hasn’t done its best to reposition garbage in optimistic, even lofty terms – the “solid waste management plan” has given way to the “comprehensive materials management strategy,” and the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority has been reinvented as the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (for both, thanks to PA 14-94), and a contractor has been selected to redevelop the facility. But when things go south and garbage piles up, it’s no surprise someone wants to look into it.

But … good news! At least this isn’t happening in August.

In other positive news: HB 5582 proposes to take a good thing – the state’s Paint Stewardship Program, an extended producer responsibility success story – and make it better, by requiring informational brochures to increase consumer awareness.

Nuisance waste: the beat goes on. Nip bottle deposits (HB 5587), retail single-use plastic bag ban (HB 588).

Fracking waste: HB 5590, another permanent ban proposal.

We don’t try to cover all the hunting bills, but there are exceptions, and HB 5688 is one: it would authorize bow and arrow hunters “to carry a firearm for protection.” From … what, exactly? We are not a criminal, but if we were, we’d gravitate toward victims not carrying hunting bows. Or perhaps the concern is with black bears, increasingly common in Connecticut. How’s your marksmanship? The National Park Service respectfully submits that wounding a bear will not improve its mood, and suggests black bears can be handled mano a mano. Frankly, the more we think about this, the more inclined we are to go to the beach.

Bonus legislative update: HB 5703, “to allow consumers to be able to use cash as payment in Connecticut businesses.” Talk about Zeitgeist. We ourselves have asked, usually after watching the preceding patron wrestle the Starbucks app to the ground, “Do you take currency?” A moment of Seinfeldian bemusement, please, for the idea of legislation to protect the right to use money to pay for things. But we would be remiss (read: in big trouble) if we failed to note that the proposal speaks in terms of “discrimination.” In a “cashless” society, those who lack cell phones and chipped credit cards would find doors closed. That would be … bad news.

The Environmental Legislative Update is always the same price, cash or credit. Comments, corrections and suggestions welcome.

Professionals

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