LEGISLATIVE GREEN UPDATE: We welcome Adam Snyder of Conservation Alabama for his biweekly update of the status of eco-related bills under consideration in the Alabama legislature.
A House Joint Resolution to encourage Congress to prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases has passed both houses of the legislature and awaits Governor Robert Bentley’s signature.
While it is not surprising that this non-binding resolution was adopted by the legislature, what is surprising is that it nearly did not pass. The Senate Rules Committee only passed the resolution by a 5-4 vote before the full Senate adopted it on a voice vote. Pushed by Birmingham-area legislators, the resolution was drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative think-tank that touts limited government, free markets and federalism.
After a lengthy public hearing on March 31 resulted in a Senate committee passing the Forever Wild reauthorization bill, both the Senate and House versions of the bill are awaiting a vote in their respective houses. Alfa representatives and Tea Party activists continue their campaign against Forever Wild’s reauthorization despite 85 percent of Alabamians supporting the program.
The bill that would reinforce Governor Bentley’s 24-month moratorium on new landfills passed a House committee last week.
The bill would give Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the state health department and the Solid Waste Management Advisory Committee a chance to review state landfill permitting and develop a comprehensive statewide solid waste plan.
A bill that would allow ADEM to regulate coal ash as solid waste passed the full House 91-0 on March 31. This legislation is halfway home to becoming law. Finally, AARP Alabama is hosting a lobby day on the steps of the Statehouse in Montgomery, Tuesday, April 19, at 1:45 p.m. The focus will be Complete Streets legislation that would require the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to consider all users—pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists—when designing and building new and retrofit road projects. Call AARP Alabama at (866) 542-8167 for more information about Complete Streets Day at the Capitol.
Follow legislation related to the environment each week on Conservation Alabama’s Hot List at conservationalabama.org.
ENVIROS SUE ALDOT: Black Warrior Riverkeeper, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), is suing ALDOT for what it says is a flawed study of the environmental impacts of the proposed Northern Beltline freeway. The suit was filed in federal district court in Montgomery. According to a press release from Riverkeeker, the group is suing the agency for violating the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires a thorough evaluation of environmental impacts and alternatives in order to identify the most cost-effective and least damaging alternatives for projects funded with federal money. For more, go to www.blackwarriorriver.org or to the SELCs site at www.SouthernEnvironment.org.
Earth Day Celebration & Trail Running Festival: The family-friendly event will be held at Ruffner Mountain Nature Center all day Saturday, April 23. The festival will feature a variety of races and distances. There will be games, activities and crafts. Results of races will be posted locally and in several running-themed publications or web sites. For information and registration, go to www.ruffnermountain.org.
Earthbound’s Earthfest: This musical benefit and Earth Day celebration returns to Bessie Estelle Park, Sunday, April 17, from 2 p.m. until sundown. The concert and picnic will benefit Black Warrior Riverkeeper. The Earthfest is a free, all-ages event, and donations are optional. Bessie Estelle Park is located within walking distance of UAB and adjacent to sponsors Gable Square Saloon and Giuseppi’s Cafe. Earthbound and guests Scott Ward and Big Mule will play several sets during the event. There will a bounce castle, dunk tank and other amusements suitable for the kiddies. Local artists and environmental organizations will offer displays. For information, visit www.blackwarriorriver.org.
Earth Day at Samford: Activities are scheduled at Samford University for April 18-22 and will include films, convocations and the “Renewing the Earth” Fair featuring student and faculty exhibits related to the environment. For the schedule, visit www4.samford.edu/earthday/schedule.html.
Auntie Litter’s Earth Day Parade and Celebration: This annual event will be held at Kelly Ingram Park downtown, Wednesday, April 20, from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. There will be entertainment, science shows, costume contests, educational exhibits and refreshments. The nation’s largest Earth Day parade for Children is scheduled for noon. Find information at auntielitter.org/earthday.html.