Banner day for the environment
While May 4 looked to be a dark day for Forever Wild, May 5 turned out to be a banner day for the environment in the Alabama legislature.
Senators Gerald Dial, Jimmy Holley, and Tom Whatley shut down the Senate Wednesday with a more than three-hour filibuster over the bill to reauthorize Forever Wild for 20 years. On a procedural vote, Dial forced adjournment of the Senate due to there not being a quorum present.
Senator Scott Beason worked with dissident Senators to find a compromise. Using Senator Dick Brewbaker’s “break the glass in case of emergency” Forever Wild bill, Beason substituted a constitutional amendment bill that would allow a vote of the people in November 2012 to extend Forever Wild another 20 years. The Senate passed the bill 34-0 late Thursday, and now the bill goes to the House.
Should the House pass the new Forever Wild bill, a statewide vote would give Alabamians the chance to reaffirm their 84 percent support of Forever Wild in 1992. Opponents and supporters will be engaged in an 18-month campaign about the future of one of the most successful programs in state history.
Also on Thursday, two bills received final passage – the coal ash bill and the landfill moratorium bill. The first would authorize ADEM to regulate coal ash as solid waste, making Alabama the final state in the country to regulate coal ash. The second affirms Governor Bentley’s executive order, setting a two-year moratorium on approval of certain types of landfills to allow the state to study Alabama’s solid waste program and policies. Both are victories for the environment.
There are only seven legislative days remaining once the legislature reconvenes on May 24 after a two-week hiatus for redistricting townhall meetings. In that limited timeframe, much is left to be done, including passing the Forever Wild constitutional amendment, the budgets, and other priority bills.
You can follow legislation related to the environment each week on Conservation Alabama’s Hot List at conservationalabama.org.