Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 102

February Session, 2018

 

LCO No. 916

 

*00916_______ENV*

Referred to Committee on ENVIRONMENT

 

Introduced by:

 

(ENV)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING MINOR REVISIONS TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND AGRICULTURE-RELATED STATUTES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 23-53 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

The Governor on behalf of this state is authorized to enter into a compact, substantially in the following form, with any one or more of the states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont and with such other states of the United States or provinces of the Dominion of Canada as may legally join therein:

NORTHEASTERN INTERSTATE FOREST FIRE PROTECTION COMPACT

ARTICLE I

The purpose of this compact is to promote effective prevention and control of forest fires in the northeastern region of the United States and adjacent areas in Canada by the development of integrated forest fire plans, by the maintenance of adequate forest fire fighting services by the member states, by providing for mutual aid in fighting forest fires among the states of the region and for procedures that will facilitate such aid, and by the establishment of a central agency to coordinate the services of member states and perform such common services as member states may deem desirable.

ARTICLE II

This agreement shall become operative immediately as to those states ratifying it whenever any two or more of the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have ratified it and the Congress has given its consent. Any state not mentioned in this article which is contiguous with any member state may become a party to this compact. Subject to the consent of the Congress of the United States, any province of the Dominion of Canada which is contiguous with any member state may become a party to this compact by taking such action as its laws and the laws of the Dominion of Canada may prescribe for ratification. In this event, the term "state" in this compact shall include within its meaning the term "province" and the procedures prescribed shall be applied in the instance of such provinces, in accordance with the forms and practices of the Canadian government.

ARTICLE III

Each state joining herein shall appoint three representatives to a commission hereby designated as the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission. One shall be the state forester or officer holding an equivalent position in such state who is responsible for forest fire control. The second shall be a member of the legislature of such state designated by the commission or committee on interstate cooperation of such state, or if there be none, or if said commission on interstate cooperation cannot constitutionally designate the said member, such legislator shall be designated by the governor thereof; provided that if it is constitutionally impossible to appoint a legislator as a commissioner from such state, the second member shall be appointed by the governor of said state in his discretion. The third member shall be a person designated by the governor as the responsible representative of the governor. In the event that any province of the Dominion of Canada shall become a member of this commission, it shall designate three members who will approximate this pattern of representation to the extent possible under the law and practices of such province. This commission shall be a body corporate with the powers and duties set forth herein.

ARTICLE IV

It shall be the duty of the commission to make inquiry and ascertain from time to time such methods, practices, circumstances and conditions as may be disclosed for bringing about the prevention and control of forest fires in the area comprising the member states, to coordinate the forest fire plans and the work of the appropriate agencies of the member states and to facilitate the rendering of aid by the member states to each other in fighting forest fires.

The commission shall formulate and, in accordance with need, from time to time, revise a regional forest fire plan for the entire region covered by the compact which shall serve as a common forest fire plan for that area.

The commission shall, more than one month prior to any regular meeting of the legislature in any signatory state, present to the governor and to the legislature of the state its recommendations relating to enactments to be made by the legislature of that state in furthering the interests and purposes of this compact.

The commission shall consult with and advise the appropriate administrative agencies of the states party hereto with regard to problems connected with the prevention and control of forest fires and recommend the adoption of such regulations as it deems advisable.

The commission shall have power to recommend to the signatory states any and all measures that will effectuate the prevention and control of forest fires.

ARTICLE V

Any two or more member states may designate the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission as a joint agency to maintain such common services as those states deem desirable for the prevention and control of forest fires. Except in those cases where all member states join in such designation for common services, the representatives of any group of such designating states in the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission shall constitute a separate section of such commission for the performance of the common service or services so designated provided that, if any additional expense is involved, the state so acting shall appropriate the necessary funds for this purpose. The creation of such a section as a joint agency shall not affect the privileges, powers, responsibilities or duties of the states participating therein as embodied in the other articles of this compact.

ARTICLE VI

The commission may request the United States Forest Service to act as the primary research and coordinating agency of the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission, in cooperation with the appropriate agencies in each state and the United States Forest Service may accept the initial responsibility in preparing and presenting to the commission its recommendations with respect to the regional fire plan. Representatives of the United States Forest Service may attend meetings of the commission and of groups of member states.

ARTICLE VII

The commission shall annually elect from its members a chairman and a vice-chairman. The commission shall appoint such officers or employees as may be required to carry the provisions of this compact into effect, shall fix and determine their duties, qualifications and compensation, and may at its pleasure, remove or discharge any such officer or employee. The commission shall adopt rules and regulations for the conduct of its business. It may establish and maintain one or more offices for the transaction of its business and may meet at any time or place but must meet at least once a year.

A majority of the members of the commission representing a majority of the signatory states shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of its general business, but no action of the commission imposing any obligation on any signatory state shall be binding unless a majority of the members from such signatory state shall have voted in favor thereof. For the purpose of conducting its general business, voting shall be by state units.

The representatives of any two or more member states, upon notice to the chairman as to the time and purpose of the meeting, may meet as a section for the discussion of problems common to those states.

Sections established by groups of member states shall have the same powers with respect to officers, employees and the maintenance of offices as are granted by this article to the commission. Sections may adopt such rules, regulations and procedures as may be necessary for the conduct of their business.

ARTICLE VIII

It shall be the duty of each member state to formulate and put in effect a forest fire plan for that state and to take such measures as may be recommended by the commission to integrate such forest fire plan with regional forest fire plan.

Whenever the state forest fire control agency of a member state requests aid from the state forest fire control agency of any other member state in combatting, controlling or preventing forest fires, it shall be the duty of the state forest fire control agency of that state to render all possible aid to the requesting agency which is consonant with the maintenance of protection at home.

Each signatory state agrees to render aid to the Forest Service or other agencies of the government of the United States in combatting, controlling or preventing forest fires in areas under their jurisdiction located within the member state or a contiguous member state.

ARTICLE IX

Whenever the forces of any member state are rendering outside aid pursuant to the request of another member state under this compact, the employees of such state shall, under the direction of the officers of the state to which they are rendering aid, have the same powers (except the power of arrest), duties, rights, privileges and immunities as comparable employees of the state to which they are rendering aid.

No member state or its officers or employees rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact shall be liable on account of any act or omission on the part of such forces while so engaged, or on account of the maintenance or use of any equipment or supplies in connection therewith.

All liability that may arise either under the laws of the requesting state or under the laws of the aiding state or under the laws of a third state on account of or in connection with a request for aid, shall be assumed and borne by the requesting state.

Any member state rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact shall be reimbursed by the member state receiving such aid for any loss or damage to, or expense incurred in the operation of any equipment answering a request for aid, and for the cost of all materials, transportation, wages, salaries, and maintenance of employees and equipment incurred in connection with such request. Provided, that nothing herein contained shall prevent any assisting member state from assuming such loss, damage, expense or other cost or from loaning such equipment or from donating such services to the receiving member state without charge or cost.

Each member state shall provide for the payment of compensation and death benefits to injured employees and the representatives of deceased employees in case employees sustain injuries or are killed while rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact, in the same manner and on the same terms as if the injury or death were sustained within such state.

For the purposes of this compact the term employee shall include any volunteer or auxiliary legally included within the forest fire fighting forces of the aiding state under the laws thereof.

The commission shall formulate procedures for claims and reimbursement under the provisions of this article.

Aid by a member state to an area subject to federal jurisdiction beyond the borders of such state shall not be required under this compact unless substantially the same provisions of this article relative to powers, liabilities, losses and expenses in connection with such aid are embodied in federal laws.

The provisions of this article that relate to the rendering of outside aid in combating, controlling or preventing forest fires shall be applicable to the provision of such aid by any state that is party to this compact to any other state that is party to a regional forest fire protection compact in another region provided the legislature of such other state assents to the outside aid provisions of this compact.

ARTICLE X

When appropriations for the support of this commission or for the support of common services maintained by the commission or a section thereof under the provisions of article V are necessary, the commission or a section thereof shall allocate the costs among the states affected with consideration of the amounts of forested land in those states that will receive protection from the service to be rendered and the extent of the forest fire problem involved in each state, and shall submit its recommendations accordingly to the legislatures of the affected states.

The commission shall submit to the governor of each state, at such time as he may request, a budget of its estimated expenditures for such period as may be required by the laws of such state for presentation to the legislature thereof.

The commission shall keep accurate books of account, showing in full its receipts and disbursements, and said books of account shall be open at any reasonable time to the inspection of such representatives of the respective signatory states as may be duly constituted for that purpose.

On or before the first day of December of each year, the commission shall submit to the respective governors of the signatory states a full and complete report of its activities for the preceding year.

ARTICLE XI

The representatives from any member state may appoint and consult with an advisory committee composed of persons interested in forest fire protection.

The commission may appoint and consult with an advisory committee of representatives of all affected groups, private and governmental.

ARTICLE XII

The commission may accept any and all donations, gifts and grants of money, equipment, supplies, materials and services from the federal or any local government, or any agency thereof and from any person, firm or corporation, for any of its purposes and functions under this compact, and may receive and utilize the same subject to the terms, conditions and regulations governing such donations, gifts and grants.

ARTICLE XIII

Nothing in this compact shall be construed to authorize or permit any member state to curtail or diminish its forest fire fighting forces, equipment, services or facilities, and it shall be the duty and responsibility of each member state to maintain adequate forest fire fighting forces and equipment to meet normal demands for forest fire protection within its borders.

Nothing in this compact shall be construed to limit or restrict the powers of any state ratifying the same to provide for the prevention, control and extinguishment of forest fires, or to prohibit the enactment or enforcement of state laws, rules or regulations intended to aid in such prevention, control and extinguishment in such state.

Nothing in this compact shall be construed to affect any existing or future cooperative relationship or arrangement between the United States Forest Service and a member state or states.

ARTICLE XIV

This compact shall continue in force and remain binding on each state ratifying it until the legislature or the governor of such state takes action to withdraw therefrom. Such action shall not be effective until six months after notice thereof has been sent by the chief executive of the state desiring to withdraw to the chief executives of all states then parties to the compact.

Sec. 2. Subsection (c) of section 23-65h of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(c) An application for the certification as a forest practitioner shall be made to the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection and shall contain such information regarding the applicant's qualifications and proposed operations and other relevant matters as the commissioner deems necessary.

(1) The commissioner shall require the applicant for forester certification to demonstrate, upon examination, that he possesses adequate knowledge concerning the proper application of forest management techniques, the ecological and environmental consequences of harvesting activity and mitigating measures to be employed to minimize possible adverse impacts on environmental conditions within the harvest area.

(2) The commissioner shall require the applicant for supervising forest products harvester certification to demonstrate, upon examination, that [he] the applicant possesses adequate knowledge concerning techniques and procedures normally employed in the conduct and supervision of a harvest operation, the safe and environmentally responsible operation of harvesting equipment, and mitigating measures to be employed to minimize possible adverse impacts of harvesting activity on environmental conditions within the harvest area.

(3) The commissioner shall require the applicant for forest products harvester certification to demonstrate, upon examination, that [he] the applicant possesses adequate knowledge concerning techniques and procedures normally employed in the conduct of a harvest operation and the safe and environmentally responsible operation of harvesting equipment, except that an applicant who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the commissioner that [he] the applicant has engaged in commercial forest practices at least once per year for the ten years immediately preceding October 1, 1991, shall be exempt from such examination requirement.

(4) (A) If the commissioner finds that the applicant is competent with respect to the required qualifications, including those provided in section 23-65o, [he] the commissioner shall certify the applicant to perform such forest practices as appropriate to the requested certification. The certification shall be valid for a period not to exceed five years and may be renewed by the commissioner with or without further examination. The commissioner may establish regulations for forest practitioner certification so that one-fifth of the certificates expire each year. The commissioner may certify a forest practitioner for less than five years and prorate the registration fee accordingly to implement the regulations established pursuant to this subsection.

(B) Notwithstanding the provisions of subparagraph (A) of this subdivision, the commissioner may grant a sixty-day extension for any forest practitioner who failed to submit a complete application for renewal prior to the expiration date of such forest practitioner's certification. Such forest practitioner shall submit a complete application for renewal within such sixty-day extension period. Any renewed certification issued by the commissioner pursuant to this subparagraph shall not require reexamination by such forest practitioner prior to such issuance but shall require the submission of an additional fee, as determined by the commissioner.

(5) If the commissioner finds that the applicant is not competent with respect to the requirements for the requested certification, the commissioner shall refuse to issue the applicant a certificate. The commissioner shall inform the applicant of the refusal in writing, giving the reasons for such refusal. Any person aggrieved by such refusal may, within thirty days from date of issuance of such denial, request a hearing before the commissioner, which hearing shall be conducted in accordance with chapter 54.

(6) The commissioner may certify without examination any person who is certified: [in] (A) In another state under a law which provides substantially similar qualifications for certification and which grants similar privileges of certification without examination to residents of this state certified under the provisions of this section, or (B) through examination by the Society of American Foresters, or a similar organization, that provides substantially similar qualifications for certification provided such person can demonstrate knowledge of the forestry laws of this state to the commissioner's satisfaction.

(7) The commissioner may, by regulation, adopted in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, prescribe fees for applicants to defray the cost of administering examinations and carrying out the provisions of this chapter. A state or municipal employee who engages in activities for which certification is required by this section solely as part of his employment shall be exempt from payment of a fee. Any certificate issued to a state or municipal employee for which a fee has not been paid shall be void upon termination of such government employment.

(8) The commissioner may require the display of a decal or other evidence, indicating that a commercial forest practitioner has met the requirements of sections 23-65f to 23-65o, inclusive, in a prominent place on any licensed motor vehicle used in the practitioner's operations. A fee may be charged to the certified practitioner to cover the cost of the decal or other evidence.

(9) The commissioner shall require all forest practitioners certified under sections 23-65f to 23-65o, inclusive, to participate biennially in a relevant program of professional education to improve or maintain professional forestry skills that is sponsored by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the New England Society of American Foresters, The University of Connecticut, Yale University or the Connecticut cooperative extension system, or participation in another program approved by the department.

Sec. 3. Section 23-65i of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) Each certified forester, except any state employee who engages in activities regulated by sections 23-65f to 23-65o, inclusive, solely as part of his employment, shall submit an annual report to the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection on or before June first of each year in a form prescribed by the commissioner. Such report shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

(1) The number of forest management plans completed and acres covered by said plans;

(2) The number and type of timber stand improvements completed and acres so improved;

(3) The number of acres planted in reforestation, afforestation and in Christmas tree plantations;

(4) The number of commercial forest product sales, the total number of acres harvested in such sales, the type and total volumes of products generated by such sales and total annual expenditure for the purchase of such sales;

(5) Evidence of [biennial] participation in a relevant program of professional education to improve or maintain professional forestry skills that is sponsored by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the New England Society of American Foresters, The University of Connecticut, Yale University or the Connecticut cooperative extension system, or participation in another program approved by the department; and

(6) Other information which the commissioner deems necessary.

(b) Each certified supervising forest products harvester shall be required to submit an annual report to the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection on or before June first of each year in a form prescribed by the commissioner. Such report shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

(1) The number of commercial forest product sales harvested, and the type and total volumes of products generated by such sales;

(2) [Evidence] Attestation of [biennial] participation in a relevant program of professional education to improve or maintain forest products harvesting skills that is sponsored by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the New England Society of American Foresters, the University of Connecticut, Yale University, the Connecticut cooperative extension system or is otherwise approved by the department; and

(3) Other information which the commissioner deems necessary.

(c) All certified forest products harvesters shall be required to submit to the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection, on or before June first of each year, annual reports in a form prescribed by the commissioner. Such reports shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

(1) Evidence of [biennial] participation in a relevant program of professional education to improve or maintain forest products harvesting skills that is sponsored by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the New England Society of American Foresters, The University of Connecticut, Yale University, the Connecticut cooperative extension system or is otherwise approved by the department; and

(2) Other information the commissioner deems necessary.

Sec. 4. Subsection (f) of section 22a-54 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(f) (1) The commissioner may, by regulation adopted pursuant to the provisions of chapter 54, prescribe fees for applicants to defray the cost of administering examinations and assisting in carrying out the purposes of section 22a-451, except the fees for certification and renewal of a certification shall be as follows: [(1)] (A) For supervisory certification as a commercial applicator, two hundred eighty-five dollars; [(2)] (B) for operational certification as a commercial applicator, eighty dollars, and [(3)] (C) for certification as a private applicator, one hundred dollars. A federal, state or municipal employee who applies pesticides solely as part of his employment shall be exempt from payment of a fee. Any certificate issued to a federal, state or municipal employee for which a fee has not been paid shall be void if the holder leaves government employment. The fees collected in accordance with this section shall be deposited in the General Fund.

(2) The commissioner may renew any certification issued pursuant to this section for the holder of a certification that has lapsed less than sixty days provided the holder of such certification submits to the commissioner a signed renewal application, payment of the applicable renewal fee and any late fee. Such late fee shall be calculated as follows: Beginning on the first day that such certification lapses, ten per cent of the applicable renewal fee plus one and one-quarter per cent per month, or part thereof, for a period not to exceed sixty days. Any holder of a certification that has lapsed more than sixty days shall be examined in accordance with the requirements of this section and any regulation adopted pursuant to the provisions of this section.

Sec. 5. Subsection (j) of section 22-26cc of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(j) The commissioner, when acquiring the development rights of any agricultural lands on behalf of the state, may incorporate deed requirements in accordance with the provisions of the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, 7 CFR 1491.1, et seq., or under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, 7 CFR 1468.1, et seq., or any successive federal farmland protection program.

Sec. 6. Subsection (k) of section 22-26nn of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(k) The commissioner, when acquiring the development rights of any agricultural lands on behalf of the state pursuant to this section, may incorporate deed requirements in accordance with the provisions of the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, 7 CFR 1491.1, et seq., or under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, 7 CFR 1468.1, et seq., or any successive federal farmland protection program.

Sec. 7. Subsection (a) of section 16-50k of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of section 16-50z, no person shall exercise any right of eminent domain in contemplation of, commence the preparation of the site for, commence the construction or supplying of a facility, or commence any modification of a facility, that may, as determined by the council, have a substantial adverse environmental effect in the state without having first obtained a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need, hereinafter referred to as a "certificate", issued with respect to such facility or modification by the council. Certificates shall not be required for (1) fuel cells built within the state with a generating capacity of two hundred fifty kilowatts or less, or (2) fuel cells built out of state with a generating capacity of ten kilowatts or less. Any facility with respect to which a certificate is required shall thereafter be built, maintained and operated in conformity with such certificate and any terms, limitations or conditions contained therein. Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter or title 16a, the council shall, in the exercise of its jurisdiction over the siting of generating facilities, approve by declaratory ruling (A) the construction of a facility solely for the purpose of generating electricity, other than an electric generating facility that uses nuclear materials or coal as fuel, at a site where an electric generating facility operated prior to July 1, 2004, and (B) the construction or location of any fuel cell, unless the council finds a substantial adverse environmental effect, or of any customer-side distributed resources project or facility or grid-side distributed resources project or facility with a capacity of not more than sixty-five megawatts, as long as: (i) Such project meets air and water quality standards of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, (ii) the council does not find a substantial adverse environmental effect, and (iii) for a solar photovoltaic facility with a capacity of two or more megawatts, to be located on prime farmland or forestland, excluding any such facility that was selected by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in any solicitation issued prior to July 1, 2017, pursuant to section 16a-3f, 16a-3g or 16a-3j, the Department of Agriculture represents, in writing, to the council that such project will not [materially] permanently affect the status of such land as prime farmland or the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection represents, in writing, to the council that such project will not [materially] permanently affect the status of such land as core forest. In conducting an evaluation of a project for purposes of subparagraph (B)(iii) of this subsection, the Departments of Agriculture and Energy and Environmental Protection may consult with the United States Department of Agriculture and soil and water conservation districts.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

from passage

23-53

Sec. 2

from passage

23-65h(c)

Sec. 3

from passage

23-65i

Sec. 4

from passage

22a-54(f)

Sec. 5

from passage

22-26cc(j)

Sec. 6

from passage

22-26nn(k)

Sec. 7

from passage

16-50k(a)

Statement of Purpose:

To make various minor changes to environment and agriculture- related statutes pertaining to forestry certifications, pesticide applicator certifications, forest fire compacts, certain preserved farmland deed restrictions and the siting of certain solar facilities on agricultural and forest lands.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]