It’s an election year (had you noticed?) and most state economies
are in serious trouble. Despite these distractions, however, Sierra
Club state government-level lobbying efforts did bear fruit on several
branches. To learn more about your local harvest or what’s
happening in other states, go to the "my backyard" box
and scroll down to the state you want. Perhaps you’ll find
a seed to plant at home next year. You can also join your chapter’s
state legislative action network and become party to next year’s
New Jersey Snatches Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
For years, the New Jersey Chapter championed protection of the
New Jersey Highlands, a 1,000-square-mile area that provides drinking
water for more than half of state residents. This summer the chapter
celebrated passage of the Highlands Water Protection and Planning
Act, which defines a Highlands preservation area of approximately
500,000 acres and limits development on the remaining land.
But in a blatant payback to developers for passage of the Highlands
bill, within a week the New Jersey Legislature steamrolled what
opponents call "EZ Pass for Polluters" legislation onto
Governor James McGreevey’s desk and he signed it. This new
law will fast-track approvals for virtually all permits needed by
developers, polluters, and industry without appropriate review,
severely weaken environmental protections, accelerate sprawl, and
increase pollution in already-polluted areas. The Club is leading
a public awareness campaign and bringing action through the courts
to overturn the new law.
Climbing on the Renewable Energy Bandwagon
Net metering of electricity will soon become available to Kentuckians.
Legislation enacted this year in Kentucky will require retail electric
suppliers in the state to make it possible for customers who generate
electricity using solar power to sell their excess generation to
the utility for "credits" against electricity use.
Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich signed legislation that will increase
renewable energy production and consumption in the state. The Maryland
Clean Energy Bill requires utilities to increase the amount of renewable
energy to 7.5 percent by 2014. Maryland is the 15th state to enact
a renewable portfolio standard. Maryland also expanded its net metering
In Hawaii, Governor Linda Lingle signed a bill mandating that utility
companies establish a renewable energy portfolio standard showing
8 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2005, 10 percent by
2010, 15 percent by 2015, and 20 percent by 2020. Renewable energy
is defined as wind, solar, geothermal, and conversion of agricultural
and other waste to energy. Although possibility of a waiver exists,
any company that fails to meet these standards could be fined as
much as $25,000 a day.
Rhode Island also passed a renewable portfolio standard of 16 percent
Two More States Join the Clean Vehicle Corps
This spring Connecticut adopted Clean Vehicle emissions standards
for all new minivans, light trucks, and passenger cars, beginning
with the 2008 models. Connecticut is currently ranked as the nation’s
third-worst state for air quality, and proponents say the bill could
cut toxic air emissions by about 33 percent.
Under the Clean Air Act, states are required to adopt either federal
or the much tougher California clean-air standards. On the heels
of Connecticut’s adoption of the California standards, Rhode
Island Governor Donald Carcieri announced the Ocean State’s
intention to follow suit. Connecticut and Rhode Island join Massachusetts,
New York, Vermont, Maine, and New Jersey in adopting the California
standards. According to Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use
Management, motor vehicles are responsible for at least 30 percent
of the Northeast’s global warming emissions.
The Rhode Island Chapter is also celebrating enactment of a Parking
Cash Out bill that will require employers of 50 or more to offer
a monthly transit pass as an alternative to providing parking space.
We understand that Maryland state Senator Sharon Grosfeld intends
to introduce the "Clean Cars Act" next session. Maybe
it’s time to ask your state legislator: Why not here?
Thank you Governor Napolitano!
Wiser heads prevailed in Arizona this summer when Governor Janet
Napolitano vetoed the utterly unnecessary "Animal and Ecological
Terrorism" bill sent her by the state legislature. As Club
Lobbyist Sandy Bahr kept repeating, "There are ample provisions
under current Arizona State Law to prosecute those engaged in illegal
conduct [like] damaging property, trespass, arson, and damaging
agricultural or lab facilities." So-called "ecoterrorism"
measures have been introduced in several states this year and last,
and have mostly been recognized for what they are—attempts
to foster public fear and then capitalize on that fear to hamper
legitimate protest. Not one has been adopted.
Wisconsin Protects Groundwater
In April, Wisconsin Govermnor Jim Doyle approved legislation designed
to help protect groundwater resources. The bill was motivated in
part by the 2000 controversy over plans by the Perrier bottling
company to tap and bottle groundwater in the state. The new law
will redesign state requirements that call for agency approval of
any "high capacity" wells that withdraw more than 100,000
gallons of water each day, such as those used for bottling operations.
The new law establishes new permit fees of $500 for proposed high-capacity
wells and $50 for small wells. The law also requires a groundwater
advisory committee to make recommendations to the legislature by
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