LEGISLATIVE ECO-UPDATE: Green Briefs welcomes Adam Snyder, executive director of Conservation Alabama, for a series of biweekly updates regarding the status of eco-related bills in the Alabama legislature. Snyder leads off with an update regarding the status of efforts to extend the life of Forever Wild, the state’s popular land conservation program, which is set to expire in 2012:
While the Alabama State Legislature is on spring break this week, the first two weeks of the legislative session have seen quite a bit of activity on environmental bills. The bill to reauthorize Forever Wild for 20 years received a favorable report from the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee on March 9. Nearly 100 individuals turned out for and against the bill. Despite some negative comments from the Alabama Farmers Federation, proponents spoke passionately in favor of the bill (HB126), and it will go to the full House soon for a vote. In an attempt to delay reauthorization of Forever Wild, a resolution was introduced to study the “operation and effectiveness” of the program. In 19 years of existence, Forever Wild has held four public hearings a year, and the state conservation department has issued reports and audits of the program, making the need for a study committee questionable.
Additionally, a bill that would give the Alabama Department of Environmental Management the authority to regulate coal ash as solid waste passed the House Commerce and Small Business Committee, and a public hearing was held on a companion bill in the Senate. Currently, coal ash is exempt from any ADEM regulatory control, making Alabama the only state that doesn’t have disposal rules on coal ash.
A bill that would require that an application for a new landfill be denied if a local government doesn’t take action on it after 90 days was not acted upon in committee. Currently, the law states that the landfill would be approved without action. This legislation is getting greater attention since Governor Robert Bentley declared a moratorium on landfills late last month.
A bill that would rollback ADEM’s enforcement and penalty programs by eliminating its current $100 minimum fine per violation per day passed the House Commerce and Small Business Committee. There has been no movement on a bill that would exempt Alabama-made and Alabama-distributed products from federal cap and trade emissions standards.
Learn more about Snyder’s group at www.conservationalabama.org.
PUSH FOREVER WILD: Arm yourself with the information you need to spread the good word regarding Forever Wild. Go to www.protectforeverwild.org/get-involved and download groovy stuff from the Forever Wild Tool Kit, including facts, briefing papers, a Powerpoint presentation, the Forever Wild Land Trust Report and PDFs of magazine articles about the program’s successes.
WE MADE THE TOP 10: Alabama ranks No. 9 among the 50 states in carbon dioxide emissions for 2010, and Alabama Power’s James H. Miller Jr. facility in Jefferson County ranks No. 3 in carbon dioxide emissions among U.S. power plants, according to data compiled by the Environmental Integrity Project. Carbon dioxide is the most prevalent of the so-called “greenhouse gases” that are thought to cause global warming. Read more at www.environmentalintegrity.org.
THIS LOOKS COOL: Mobile Bay Keeper is giving people the chance to help build an oyster reef on Saturday, March 19, 8 a.m.-noon, at Helen Wood Park in Mobile, on Dauphin Island Parkway north of Dog River. Volunteers will pass bagged oyster shells to predetermined locations. Get all the details, including clothing guidelines, at www.mobilebaykeeper.org
ME LIKE PURTY FLOWERS: The Land Trust of North Alabama will host the next in its “Spring Burst” series of free guided hikes Sunday, March 20, at 1 p.m., near Madison in Limestone County. The easy-to-moderate hike will be held at Matthews Farm and will feature a discussion of wildflowers. This is a members-only hike, but you can join the day of the event. Call (256) 534- 5263 to RSVP. For more information, visit www.landtrustnal.org.
IT’S A CLASSIC: The Alabama Cup Whitewater Slalom Series of canoe and kayak races continues Saturday and Sunday, March 26-27, with the annual Locust Fork Whitewater Classic. The Classic will be held at King’s Bend just north of Cleveland, Ala., off Highway 231/79. Learn more at www.alabamacupraces.com.