Map of CT Drainage Basins
Rivers Alliance Crystal Ball for the 2014 Legislative Session
We predict that
2013 Legislative Session
This legislative session hit a new high in confusion, with good and bad measures tangled together.
Bill 1138, AAC (An Act Concerning) Connecticut's Clean Energy Goals ping-ponged between the House and the Senate, as environmental advocates sounded alarms because it rolled back the state’s commitment to the development of clean sources of electricity. Although the bill was improved prior to passage, it still threatens Connecticut rivers because it allows even the most destructive hydropower to be sold in the upscale market for Class I energy sources. The ONLY hydropower deserving Class I status is verifiably low-impact hydropower. Good aspects of the bill are that it strengthened the definition of of Class I hydropower; it provides for long-term procurement contracts for clean energy while federal incentives are still in place; and it removes from Class I some dirty biomass plants.
Pesticide bills were in a three-way race, with pro-pesticide forces trying to roll back the state's partial ban on lawn-care pesticides at schools, anti-pesticides enviros seeking to extend this kind of ban to protect more children, and others (including DEEP) trying to set up a task force to study health effects of pesticides. In the final days, the stand-off continued, and once again no action was taken to broaden the protection for children exposed to these toxins. Up to now, the most effective advocacy has been to limit use of lawn-care pesticides in schools. This is fairly feeble considering the scientific and medical findings on the dangers of these substances. (Note, pesticides include herbicides.)
Fracking bills also started in a three-way race, but the one most protective of water resources fell behind early. That good bill followed the Vermont model and put a moratorium on fracking and acceptance of fracking waste until safe practices are developed. Back in Connecticut, a bill banning fracking waste look poised to win, but fell short due mainly to opposition from DEEP, where enthusiasm for natural gas runs high.
GMO labeling passed the Senate in a bipartisan insurgency against hiding the chemicalization and bio-manipulation of people's food. The bill required eventual labeling of genetically modified organisms in food. When the bill arrived in the House, legislators, reportedly spurred on by the governor, added an array of hurdles and hoops. Eventually a compromise was reached, and Connecticut has become the first state to pass a GMO-labeling measure. Rivers Alliance cares about GMOs because GMO crops are created to be immune to certain pesticides, which are then applied lavishly to kill everything else in the neighborhood. The US Geological Survey has concluded that pesticides are in all the nation’s streams. The same mega-corporate interests that support lawn-care pesticides on nursery school grounds, and aquatic pesticides in swim ponds, want to be sure that agricultural fields can be adequately sterilized by pesticides so that only their genetically modified crops can grow there.
Good Bills That Passed
Mattress Recycling: No more pulling mattresses our of rivers.
Water Conservation Rates: The bill puts a floor (and a ceiling) on water-company revenues to encourage conservation and infrastructure investment. This is basically the decoupling of revenues from a tight link to quantities sold. It was supposed to happen with energy a while back, but policy makers are trying for that again this year.
The Haddam Land Swap was repealed in the Conveyance Act (hurrah!), but a couple of unfortunate conveyances went forward. Rivers Alliance as a member of the State Lands Working Group is looking forward to moving land-conservation reforms forward next year.
Land and Water programs benefitted from a continued commitment by the administration and the legislation to adequate dollars for the Clean Water Fund and land conservation programs.
Next year is going to be even more challenging. The state’s economy is not where it should be. Election pressures that were highly influential this session may be more so next session. However, recognition that we cannot afford to continue to waste our environmental capital seems to be widening. The better angels of our nature may prevail.
For material published by Rivers Alliance during the Legislative session, please
see our Archive page at