While May 4 looked to be a dark day for Forever Wild, May 5 turned out to be a banner day for the environment in the Alabama legislature.
Senators Gerald Dial, Jimmy Holley and Tom Whatley shut down the Senate Wednesday with a more than three-hour filibuster over the bill to reauthorize Forever Wild for 20 years. On a procedural vote, Dial forced adjournment of the Senate due to there not being a quorum present.
Senator Scott Beason worked with dissident Senators to find a compromise. Using Senator Dick Brewbaker’s “break the glass in case of emergency” Forever Wild bill, Beason substituted a constitutional amendment bill that would allow a vote of the people in November 2012 to extend Forever Wild another 20 years. The Senate passed the bill 34-0 late Thursday, and now the bill goes to the House.
Should the House pass the new Forever Wild bill, a statewide vote would give Alabamians the chance to reaffirm their 84 percent support of Forever Wild in 1992. Opponents and supporters will be engaged in an 18-month campaign about the future of one of the most successful programs in state history.
Also on Thursday, two bills received final passage–the coal ash bill and the landfill moratorium bill. The first would authorize ADEM to regulate coal ash as solid waste, making Alabama the final state in the country to regulate coal ash. The second affirms Governor Bentley’s executive order, setting a two-year moratorium on approval of certain types of landfills to allow the state to study Alabama’s solid waste program and policies. Both are victories for the environment.
There are only seven legislative days remaining once the legislature reconvenes on May 24 after a two-week hiatus for redistricting town-hall meetings. In that limited time frame, much is left to be done, including passing the Forever Wild constitutional amendment, the budgets and other priority bills.
You can follow legislation related to the environment each week on Conservation Alabama’s Hot List at conservationalabama.org.
ROCKING & DOCKING: According to a news release from Black Warrior Riverkeeper, H2 Real Estate is hosting the second annual “Dock at the Rock” event Saturday, May 14, at Silverock Cove, as a fundraiser for Black Warrior Riverkeeper. The event will feature food, music (including Birmingham indie rocker Jon Black) and recreation, according to a Riverkeeper news release. There will be fishing demos and canoe and kayak outings. Rambo Marine will be on hand with boats from several manufacturers. Riverkeeper’s Nelson Brooke will lead tours of Smith Lake in the Riverkeeper patrol boat. Organizers will also collect food, clothing and personal hygiene products for those affected by recent tornadoes in Cullman, Winston and Walker counties. The event begins at 11 a.m. and will continue until 8 p.m. Day passes are $20 and include lunch and dinner. For direction, got to www.silverockcove.com. Learn more about Riverkeeper at www.blackwarriorriver.org.
GET READY, PEOPLE: The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and, according to a release from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), the season promises to be an active one. Meteorologists estimate there will be 15 to 16 named storms, with eight to nine hurricanes developing, the release says. The IBHS web site at www.disastersafety.org offers a self-assessment checklist that property owners can use to determine how to make their homes and buildings safer, as well as information about reducing risks from hurricanes and high winds. IBHS calls itself an “independent, non-profit, scientific and educational organization” supported by the property insurance industry.
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