Bond, performance bond

After years of dealing with an all-but-shut-down facility in Sylacauga that has been polluting the community, Rep. Ron Johnson, R-Sylacauga wants to make sure no other community has to deal with this situation again.

Johnson introduced a bill last week that would “require certain centralized waste treatment facilities seeking a permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) for the processing or treatment of industrial wastes, industrial wastewater, and/or used material to post a performance bond or other financial assurance in an amount sufficient to close the facility if the facility owner or operator abandons the facility, ceases proper operation, or fails to properly maintain the facility to ensure compliance with state environmental regulations.”

For years, citizens, such as the grassroots group Preserve our Environment for Tomorrow (POET), have complained about the REEF Environmental facility because of toxic fumes and water pollution coming from the plant. ADEM has gotten involved and fined the facility several times over the last few years. As of July 2010, REEF has ceased operations but doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to properly close the facility. While Johnson’s legislation won’t solve the problems with REEF, it may prevent this type of problem from happening in other communities.

Also last week, Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery introduced legislation that would provide tax incentives for purchases of compressed natural gas vehicles. As a co-chair of the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Energy, Wren is continuing to be a leader for energy alternatives incentives.

Two environmentally related bills received a public hearing last week in the House Ways and Means Education Committee. The first is a bill that would provide $10,000 for farmers to purchase and install irrigation systems. This bill is expected to be voted on this week in committee. The second would provide tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic structures in downtown areas of some of the state’s largest cities. Such an effort could help revitalize downtowns and encourage more walkable and livable communities. The historic tax credit bill is not on the agenda for this week.

You can follow legislation related to the environment each week on Conservation Alabama’s Hot List at conservationalabama.org.

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