March Advocacy Update
We are reaching the end of the season of committee public hearings and votes to move legislation beyond the committees and onto the floors of the House and Senate of the General Assembly.
Two Environmental Justice bills must be voted out of the Environment Committee next week to move to the Senate or House floor or else they will go no further in this session:
- The Connecticut Environmental Rights Amendment: HJ 37, a Green Amendment to the state constitution that would equitably protect the rights to clean air, water, and soil, a stable climate, and a healthy environment regardless of race, ethnicity, tribal membership, gender, socioeconomics, or geography.
Action Item: Contact the Environment Committee and ask them to bring HJ 37, the resolution proposing the CT Environmental Rights Amendment to a vote next week, and also to vote to move it forward to the House floor.
- The Environmental Justice bill: SB 1147, which would strengthen the requirements for community involvement and consideration of existing environmental burdens before polluting facilities could be permitted in environmental justice communities. In the public hearing on this bill last week, many environmental advocates asked that this bill be strengthened further to stop CT DEEP altogether from granting new permits for polluting facilities in overburdened environmental justice communities.
Action Item: Contact the Environment Committee and ask them to bring to a vote a strong version of SB 1147 that would stop, rather than slowing down, permits in overburdened environmental justice communities.
Many good bills for CT NOFA members have already been voted out of committee and can be considered on the floor of the Senate or House.
Action Item: Contact your state Representative and Senator and let them know your position by bill number, which you can find below. You can find your legislators here.
To the House
- Zero carbon emissions: HB 6397, which will declare a state climate emergency, engage several state agencies in developing strategies for the transition to renewable energy sources with zero emissions, require the State Treasurer to divest state pension funds from fossil fuel companies, and prioritize environmental justice communities in the transition.
- Local food for schools incentive program and expansion of CT Grown for Kids grant: HB 6842, creates an incentive program and grants for more local CT Grown food for schools.
- Surplus food donation and food composting: HB 5577, requires food wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, supermarkets and restaurants to make plans to reduce food waste, and donate food that is still good to food relief organizations. Also expands requirements for recycling to include composting of food scraps.
To the Senate
- Banning neonicotinoids for non-agricultural use: SB 963, which will ban use of neonicotinoid insecticides for routine use on lawns and ornamental landscaping, allowing some carefully identified exceptions for invasive pests like hemlock wooly adelgid, emerald ash borer, and spotted lanternfly.
- Funding for towns to test and remediate PFAS contamination: SB 100, will provide $25 million for towns to test and remediate contamination with these cancer-causing chemicals in drinking water. Much more needs to be done about these chemicals, often called “forever chemicals” because they persist in the environment essentially forever. Many people are also calling them “everywhere chemicals” because they are so widespread in soil and water. This is a modest start, but we will need to stop the continuing contamination.
- Allowing local butcher shops to process farmer-owned livestock: SB 298, which aims to address the backlog in processing meat by USDA facilities. Many livestock farmers have been calling for this.
We are fortunate to live in a state with so much awareness and opportunity to act on environmental justice, climate, and agricultural issues.
-Dr. Kimberly Stoner, Director of Advocacy