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Rivers Alliance
Connecticut's United Voice for River Conservation

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Legislation

Important Environmental Legislation 2014

FROM THE CONNECTICUT LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS

Environmental issues are heating up!

Have you been urging your legislators to take a pro-environment stand this session? 

CTLCV has been working hard to keep environmental issues on the front burner at the state legislature. Below is the list of bills we have been tracking for the upcoming 2014 Environmental Scorecard. We are very excited to announce that all of these bills have been moved out of their committees of origin and are awaiting the next set of votes. 

SUPPORT:

  • SB 70 Permanent Protection of State Conservation Lands
  • HB 5424 State Water Plan
  • HB 5330  & SB 46 & SB 443 Pesticides 
  • HB 5370 Funding State Parks and Forests
  • SB 237 Ban Toxic Fracking Waste
  • HB 5354 & SB 126 Toxic-free Children
  • SB 312 Long Island Sound Inventory and Blue Plan
  • HB 5410 Reduce Methane Leakage
  • SB 66 Outdoor Wood-Burning Furnaces
OPPOSE: 
  • SB 405 Eliminate Land Use Public Hearings
  • HB 5358 Regulation Repeal 
 

For background material on these issues click HERE: 2014 Environmental Briefs

Stay tuned for future updates to become more involved in protecting YOUR environment.

If you have any immediate requests, questions, comments, or suggestions please do not hesitate to contact CTLCV by phone or email at: 

(860) 236-5442

ctlcv@ctlcv.org

www.ctlcv.org

Connecticut League of Conservation Voters

553 Farmington Ave., Suite 201

Hartford, CT 06105


State Rep. Roberta Willis has always been a champion of pro-health, pro-environment causes. Here is her statement re fracking waste.

Why I Support SB 237: An Act Prohibiting 'Fracking' Waste in Connecticut
 
In the 2014 legislative session, the Environment Committee introduced a bill which will ban the storage or disposal of waste generated from hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking”. I am co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation because of concern that the toxic byproducts of fracking might  contaminate our waters and pose a threat to public health. 
 
Connecticut has no natural gas deposits and therefore no fracking is taking place here. However, our close proximity to the Marcellus Shale deposit in Pennsylvania and their 6,000+ natural gas wells means that CT could potentially become a storage or treatment site for the millions of gallons of wastewater that are generated annually through the process of fracking.  Fracking involves injecting large amounts of water, mixed with sand and various chemicals, underground at high pressures so that natural gas is released.  Much of this contaminated and hazardous wastewater eventually rises back to the surface and then must be reused or disposed of. The wastewater contains potentially harmful pollutants (many of them carcinogenic and neurotoxic)—such as organic hydrocarbons (e.g. oil and grease), inorganic and organic additives, naturally occurring radioactive material such as radium, and high levels of salts.
 
The most common wastewater disposal methods are recycling for use in additional fracking, treatment, discharge into surface waters, landfills, and finally, road spreading. Only one-third of wastewater can be re-used by the gas companies for additional fracking. As a result, Pennsylvania gas companies ship hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater elsewhere.
 
Most wastewater is transported to waste treatment plants (both public and private) that are used to dealing with sewage waste. According to the E.P.A., these plants are not properly equipped to treat and dispose of the very toxic and radioactive wastewater produced from fracking. Because of a loophole in federal law that exempts oil and gas waste from being considered hazardous materials, there is no comprehensive set of national standards that regulate the disposal of wastewater from fracking. In 2011, the New York Times published an investigative report that detailed how the Pennsylvania gas industry sent their wastewater to treatment plants un-equipped to handle such toxic waste, which resulted contaminants simply being diluted instead of removed. This partially treated wastewater was then released into surrounding waterways.
 
Despite risk to lakes and rivers, some New York towns are using the briny wastewater for de-icing roads. However, not all states are as willing to accept. Vermont has banned both fracking and the storage or disposal of fracking waste. This year, Massachusetts is considering a 10-year moratorium on fracking and the storage or disposal of its waste in their state. Connecticut must follow suit.
 
We cannot risk the health of our waterways and our citizens by opening our communities up to these hazardous toxins.   

All the best,

Roberta Willis

 

Legislative Information from Rivers Alliance

The legislature is currently considering bills, holding hearings, and engaging in negotiations on several critical environmental issues.  On all these issues, we will do follow-up emails and post news and alerts on our website www.riversalliance.org.  Our telephone is 860-361-9349.  The CT Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (CTNOFA) also has a good run down at https://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/4889121/1997569357/name/Take+Action%2C+March+2014.pdf 

FRACKING WASTE

Hydrofracturing (“fracking” for short) is the process of extracting natural gas and oil by using water and a cocktail of chemicals to fracture open tight seams in underground rock formations where natural gas is held.  The returned waste water (billions of gallons annually in the U.S.) is contaminated with the original toxic chemicals (including carcinogens), radioactive materials, metals, and intense concentrations of salts. Treatment of this water may yield a harmful brine and a sludge.   Disposing of this waste safely is a complex problem not yet solved (or possibly not solvable).

Pennsylvania and New York have large deposits of Marcellus shale, which holds natural gas.  Given the shale’s proximity to Connecticut, we can expect efforts to dispose of waste here, for example, in deep wells, landfills, on sites needing fill, or on roads to melt ice.  Three bills have been introduced to regulate or ban fracking waste inConnecticut.  The one most protective of health and the environment is an outright ban proposed in SB 237 AAC Prohibiting the Storage or Disposal of Fracking Waste in Connecticut. 

Another bill is HB 5308, AAC the Regulation of Fracking Waste.  This is a step in the right direction, but given the state’s limited regulatory resources and the danger to health and the environment, an outright ban is preferable. There is also a bill in the Energy and Technology Committee, HB 5409, which also calls for heightened regulation of fracking waste. __________________________________________________________________

PESTICIDES

This will be an especially important year for pesticide legislation.  DEEP has commissioned a study that will be available soon.  Here are two good bills:

 HB-5330 AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPLICATION OF PESTICIDES AT PARKS, PLAYGROUNDS, ATHLETIC FIELDS AND MUNICIPAL GREENS  is in the Public Health Committee. 

SB-46 AN ACT CONCERNING PESTICIDES ON SCHOOL GROUNDS is in the Children’s Committee.

We’ll keep you posted. 

_______________________________________________________________________

PROTECTING STATE-OWNED CONSERVATION LANDS

Many of you have already submitted testimony for SB 70 in Environment  --  or have signed on to ours.  Thank you.  We are creating an email group for those who have expressed interest.  Meanwhile, everything is up in the air, and negotiations are expected to get underway next week.  We’ll be in touch, but feel free to call or email questions.

_____________________________________________________________________

STATE WATER PLANNING

We have a bill!  HB 5424  AAC The Responsibilities of the Water Planning Council.  

It’s promising.  Will keep you posted.  Again, feel free to call or email.


Last Year's Legislation Reporting from Rivers Alliance

Rivers Alliance Crystal Ball for the 2014 Legislative Session

We predict that

  • The yearning to be re-elected in November will dominate all other political emotions.

  • The issue of pesticide use on lawns and playing fields will again pit science and medicine against convenience and the chemical industry.  

  • Progress will be made in the effort to save state parks, wildlife areas, and other conservation lands from being given away for parking, paving, box stores, mini-malls, and the like.

  • Everyone will be talking about statewide water planning. Maybe we'll get (another) study.

  • Rivers Alliance will fight every day to protect water resources and the watersheds that feed them. 


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 http://www.riversalliance.org/legislation/legislationarchive2013.htm

 

 


Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
PO Box 1797
7 West Street, 3rd Floor
Litchfield, CT 06759
860-361-9349
rivers@riversalliance.org
www.riversalliance.org