Governor has final say on hazardous waste

DontDumponAL4It was a whirlwind week for the hazardous waste bill.

HB181, a bi-partisan effort to reduce the fees hazardous waste haulers have to pay to dump their dangerous chemicals at the Emelle hazardous waste facility, was before a public hearing in a Senate committee on Tuesday, and before the full Senate on Thursday. Even the bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, was surprised by the bill being up for a vote, even though it was not on the special order calendar. Some senators had concerns as well, and stalled the vote for at least 30 minutes before it ultimately passed the Senate 25-4.

Now, Governor Robert Bentley has the bill to sign or veto. His signature doesn’t seem to be a slam dunk when an aide was non-committal on the governor’s plans in a recent press report. Signing the bill into law would be inconsistent with the governor’s previous position on solid waste. Only a few weeks after taking office in 2011, Bentley issued an executive order declaring a moratorium on new solid waste landfills out of fear Alabama was becoming the nation’s dumping ground. The legislature later affirmed the moratorium legislatively and a study of solid waste practices is on going. The moratorium didn’t affect hazardous waste, but the concern is the same – Alabama is the nation’s dumping ground.

With only five days remaining this legislative session, many of the environmental bills do not have enough time and political muscle to pass this session. However, there are a few that are edging closer to passage. The historic tax credit bill is one Senate vote away from going to the governor. Also, the Alabama Land Bank Authority bill has gotten new life and is in committee this week.

However, a bill that would prohibit public buildings from following LEED standards in order to be more energy efficient is one step away from the governor as well. The bill is expected to be voted on by the House this week, but there are rumblings of floor amendments that could make this bill more palatable to LEED supporters.

Finally, the latest budget has money restored for the state parks program. While not finalized, this could be a huge win for the state parks in 2014, but it doesn’t address immediate needs nor the $12 million that has been cut from state parks funding in the last two years.

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

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