Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Do not go gentle into that DEEP good night: Raised Bill #141: Part V – Etc.

And the rest . . .

DEEP proposes to add a soil type, “hydric,” to the statutory list that has been in effect for four decades. Over the weekend I emailed five soil scientists who have each been active for decades in the state.  I asked: what is the problem and is this the appropriate solution?  No one had heard anything about this proposed change or knew why it was offered.  I contacted the president of the Connecticut Association of Wetlands Scientists (CAWS): they hadn’t been contacted.  One of the soil scientists I contacted reached out to the Soil Science Society of Southern New England (SSS SNE), the organization that certifies soil scientists.  They knew nothing about this.  The Connecticut Association of Conservation and Inland Wetlands Commissions (CACIWC) knew nothing of this.  CACIWC holds an annual meeting, issues a quarterly newsletter and holds monthly board meetings. DEEP could have used any of those avenues to communicate with those mostly closely affected by soil type changes. DEEP didn’t reach out to any stakeholder prior to proposing this bill. 

In 2016 DEEP proposes to add a new soil type without communicating to anyone affected by this change while simultaneously seeking to removal its own specific supervisory authorities in the wetlands laws.  What’s wrong with this picture? 

Enough for me not to have an opinion on whether it is appropriate or needed to add hydric soils to the jurisdiction of wetlands commission until all stakeholders have had a chance to consider the purpose and value of the proposal.

DEEP wants to synchronize public notice between state notices on wetlands applications for state agencies and other DEEP permit programs – who could raise a concern?  (Section 2 of Raised Bill #141.)  DEEP thinks that “renew” is a better word than “extend” in matters where the town agent is taking action – fine.  (Section 4 of Raised Bill #141 addressing CGS § 22a-42a (c) (2)).

To recap:

No to dismantling the oversight and enforcement functions that DEEP is assigned. Part II.

Not really to suing municipalities directly in lieu of DEEP oversight, but if it is going to be enacted, put the reference into the already existing court enforcement provision of CGS § 22a-44 (b). Part III.

No to eliminating the procedural requirements for amendments to wetlands maps. Part IV.

No to adding hydric soils to the definition of wetlands soils, until all stakeholders have been consulted. Part V.

No objection to changes in notice for permits processed by DEEP and an isolated word change. Part V. 

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