Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-941

Title:

AN ACT DELAYING IMPLEMENTATION OF CERTAIN STANDARDS AND SAMPLING REQUIREMENTS UPON THE DETECTION OF POLLUTANTS CAUSING CONTAMINATION OF SOIL, GROUNDWATER OR PUBLIC OR PRIVATE DRINKING WATER WELLS.

Vote Date:

3/11/2015

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/27/2015

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE

REASONS FOR BILL:

To delay from July 15, 2015 to July 1, 2017 implementation of the 2013 amendments to the state's Remediation Standard Regulations applicable to the detection of pollutants causing contamination of soil, groundwater or public or private drinking water wells.

Substitute Language: Delays implementation for one year, instead of two.

Makes technical changes. LCO 4998

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Robert J. Klee, Commissioner, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

In an effort to transform Connecticut's site cleanup program, DEEP completed amendments to the state's Remediation Standards Regulations in 2013 providing more flexible and faster approaches to site cleanup while the legislature enacted PA 13-308 adding four additional transformation items. Opponents argue for a delay in implementing this legislation pending future changes, but there is no 'all-at-once' process for change in the future. Improvements should continue as they have, i.e., taking reasonable steps in an incremental fashion. Opponents also argue that implementation should be delayed pending DEEP's response to an independent contractor report; however, the law that was passed was not conditioned upon such a report. DEEP supports implementation of the law already enacted and opposes the delay proposed in SB 941.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Eric J. Brown, Attorney, Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA).

DEEP previously agreed to a 'grand bargain' which would broaden its 'regulatory net' while simultaneously adopting regulations establishing bigger 'holes' in that net so that reports could be expeditiously addressed and closed-out by the agency. DEEP further agreed that its environmental cleanup 'transformation' would occur in conjunction with a comprehensive study of DEEP's cleanup standards, which study has been completed but not yet acted upon. The July 15, 2015 date to implement the SEH 'grand compromise' amendments (PA 13-308) has been proven to be overly optimistic, thus justifying the 2 year delay supported in SB 961.

Environmental Professionals' Organization of Connecticut (EPOC).

The 2013 revisions to the original Significant Environmental Hazards Regulations (SEH) reporting requirements included a two year delay in implementation (to July 1, 2015). DEEP is at least 2 years behind that timeline. In addition, DEEP has yet to follow through on recommendations of the risk-based consulting group, nor has it given the public an opportunity to comment on how DEEP proposes to implement the revisions. EPOC believes the revisions to the SEH reporting requirements must be linked to how risk-based decisions are made and considers a two year postponement in the program to be consistent with the original intent of PA 13-308.

Lee D. Hoffman, Pullman and Comley, LLC.

SB 941 is a simple solution to a complex problem. The passage of PA 13-308 was to user in certain changes in the state's remediation program because of the uncertainty and lack of scientific data at DEEP to fully analyze the risks associated with environmental contamination. An independent study to determine appropriate risk-based criteria was completed but DEEP needs more time to review it and make recommendations. A delay in implementing PA 13-308 is not fatal. It is better for DEEP to demonstrate that it has the science to back its contamination claims and a process to adequately address the backlog of sites it already knows about.

Barry J. Trilling, Managing Member, Trilling Environmental Law Firm. LLC.

The standards set and regulations promulgated by DEEP with regard to SEH obligations to protect human health and the environment should be based on the best science available. Since DEEP has yet to act on a 2014 study of its risk-based decision making, and, since there is yet no scientific study on which to base implementation of PA 13-308, the original effective date of implementation in 2015 needs to be extended until 2017, as proposed by this bill.

David F. Hurley, PG, LEP, Vice President, Fuss & O'Neill, Inc.

Section 28 of PA 13-308 was developed to meet 2 DEEP objectives: 1) determine how risk is evaluated by DEEP, which it did by engaging a consultant, who produced a report; 2) make recommendations for statutory and regulatory changes to the risk making process, not later than Oct. 1, 2014. This step in the process has not been completed by DEEP. It would be premature, therefore, to let the amendment to the SEH take effect on its designated due date of July 15, 2015, but rather should be extended to July 1, 2017 to give time for the process to be completed.

Elizabeth C. Barton, Partner, Day Pitney, LLP.

The date extension proposed in this bill is warranted and appropriate because the prerequisites to the revisions to Section 22a-6u of PA 13-308, which prerequisites were recognized and acknowledged in 2013, have not yet occurred and cannot reasonably be expected to occur by the July 1,2015 target date.

John DiCarlo, Public Policy and Economic Development Director, Waterbury Regional Chamber.

The Waterbury Chamber has been a consistent advocate in promoting an improved state Brownfield remediation process. Greater Waterbury's industrial legacy is one of the highest ratios of Brownfields in the state and, while a number of these properties have been reclaimed in recent years, there are still many that require extensive remediation. SB 941 grants DEEP more time to address PA 13-308 implementation concerns as they impact stigmatized properties.

Steven Guveyan, Executive Director, Connecticut Petroleum Council, A Division of API.

Delaying the new reporting requirements for certain environmental cleanups gives DEEP more time to adopt regulations needed to speed up and streamline the remediation process. Moving forward with the current cleanup program without changing the law and before new regulations are written assures that the remediation process will be mired in uncertainty, impracticality, and lack of finality.

Ann M. Catino, Co-Chair of Brownfield Working Group.

DEEP's work on a transformative remediation program for Brownfield sites is still unfinished. It has yet to deal with a framework regarding 2 important questions: 1) What is the mechanism for cost-effectively getting to completion on a Brownfield site? The 'exit' ramp needs to be clearly defined. 2) What is the underlying scientific basis of the state's remediation standard regulations? Until a full report and recommendations are released and scrutinized and DEEP staffing is in place to handle this change, the status quo should be maintained for 2 more years.

Daniel R. Jahne, LEP.

DEEP's stated goal is to link the adoption of the revised SEH to the inception of the “Unified Program”, the date of which is undetermined. Putting standards in effect outside of a final Unified Program that does not involve the collaboration of DEEP, environmental professionals, and other stakeholders could choke state resources. Implementing one component of the equation without finishing the other components is short-sighted and detrimental to remediation progress already achieved.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Leah L. Schmalz, Director of Legislative and Legal Affairs, Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE).

Passage of this proposed legislation will delay the implementation of certain amendments that create better 'right-to-know' notifications when high concentrations of a high risk environmental hazard are discovered. The amendments also made the statute more self-implementing and efficient to administer. CFE/Save the Sound opposes this bill because there is no legitimate reason to further delay these critical environmental and public health notification provisions.

Margaret Miner, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.

As an organization dedicated to promoting sound water policies, Rivers Alliance is opposed to the suggested 2 year delay. Continuing to expose families and wildlife to a pollutant that is known to be in their environment and possibly in their drinking water cannot be justified. Monitoring a pollutant after it is detected is equivalent to an “ignorance is bliss” attitude and is not an acceptable defense for failure to notify people of impending risk.

Reported by: Madeline Grabinski

Date: March 23, 2015