Contact the General Assembly to demand the passage of HB 671

Some Bills

by Alan Muller

Legislative Hall hums at the end of June: The people’s representatives make laws at a furious pace, ably assisted by swarms of lobbyists (this writer is one of them). A diverse and interesting bunch, many legislators are independent-minded and thoughtful, doing their best in a system overwhelmingly influenced by developers and big businesses associated with the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. Here are Green Delaware’s takes on a few of the over-one-thousand bills to come before the 140th General Assembly:

Senate Bill 373. Sponsor: Sen. Harris McDowell. “Delaware Energy Act.”

Green power or brown power?

This bill would set up a Delaware Green Energy Committee, a Green Energy Fund, and a Renewable Energy Property Grant Program. The Green Energy Committee would not have any public participation, and the definition of “renewable energy property” would include “biomass equipment ... that uses ... commercial ... generation from ... wood waste materials.” In other words: incineration.
Sen, McDowell, Chair for may years of the Senate Energy Committee, has been fingered by the Center for Public Integrity and by Green Delaware for using his position to promote his interests as a peddler of “European combustion technology.” He’s been a diehard opponent of several key anti-incineration bills. SB 373 was tabled in the Senate due to concerns of Senator Dorinda Connor and others about lack of public participation and encouragement of incineration. (After the bill was tabled, McDowell accosted this writer in the lobby, shouting “you’re a jerk...” until the Capital Police calmed him down.) A few days later he brought the bill up again and it was narrowly defeated. Energy policy is a disaster in Delaware: for years we’ve objected as conservation and efficiency programs have been shut down, while bad-actor Conectiv (Delaware’s biggest toxic polluter) plays Delaware officials, the University of Delaware, and the “environmental community” like violins. McDowell seems uninterested in any legislation that doesn’t try to feather his own nest. (There is another and brighter side to Harris McDowell–he is respected by many in Delaware for his formerly progressive stands on social issues.)

House Bill 626. Sponsor: Rep. Shirley Price and others. “...relating to the Inland Bays Watershed”

Developers create double jeopardy in Leg Hall

This bill, partly a response to the notorious Americana Bayside project, would set up additional planning steps for “Developments of Regional Significance” in the Inland Bays Watershed. This seems a no-brainer in a state over-developing from one end to the other, but it’s being fought by the usual pave-everything interests: the Sussex County Council, some cities and towns, and homebuilders and realtors. (No doubt if the bill focused on New Castle County, that county would be fighting it too.) HB 626 was reported out of the Land Use and Infrastructure Committee (Rep. Cathcart) after a public hearing. Then, the pavers went to House Speaker Terry Spence, who decided the bill had to go through ANOTHER committee, Natural Resources, chaired by Rep. “Bobby” Quillen.
This bill is a useful step in the right direction. Time is of the essence and we hope Rep. Quillen will release the bill quickly, or that Speaker Spence will go back to the normal one-committee procedure.

House Bill 671. Sponsor: Rep. Dick Cathcart and 27 others.

Who loves sewage?

This bill would stop dumping of untreated sewage in Delaware after Jan 1, 2008. It’s aimed at the City of Wilmington, which refuses to get rid of 38 pipes dumping into rivers and creeks all around the City. It also says that cleaning up the “combined sewer overflows” can’t be used as an excuse for increased dumping from sewer plants. This issue has brought out the worst–which is pretty bad–in the Delaware Division of Water Resources. Officials tried to intimidate Green Delaware with a series of letters demanding our membership list. On June 6th, Secretary Nick DiPasquale issued a “stealth” permit to Wilmington allowing a 25,000 pound per day increase in dumping into the Delaware River. Was this to sneak the permit in before HB 671 passes? The Hearing Officer’s Report--by Rod Thompson, one of Delaware's worst public officials--is full of misrepresentations and outright lies. For example, Thompson wrote "Despite the City and the Department making desired information available to the hearing requestor [Green Delaware] within the time frame requested [they did not] the hearing requestor ultimately submitted no post-hearing comments or information of any kind [we submitted a five page letter memorandum, available on]." Even stranger, the chief opponent of the sewage cleanup is Senator Patricia Blevins, who chaired an ineffective “CSO Task Force.” So far, ALL the Democratic members of the Senate have declined to co-sponsor SB 671. They need to hear from you.....

Senate Bill 340. Sponsor: Sen. Dave McBride and others

Recycling the Delaware Solid Waste Authority?

This bill would take some steps towards improving Delaware’s low recycling rate. Recognizing the Delaware Solid Waste Authority’s (DSWA) refusal to increase recycling, the bill would set up an “Office of Recycling” in the Department of Natural Resources (DNREC). Predictably, the bill was sabotaged by the DSWA and was defeated in the Senate on June 13th. Spokespersons for the Governor’s Office then criticized environmental interests for not having supported the bill more strongly. In fact, we saw no indication that any effort was made to round up support for the bill (Green Delaware was not consulted at any poin). The Carper administration has supported incineration, and appointed anti-recycling, pro-burn board members to the DSWA. Now it’s posing as an advocate of recycling. Is this for real? We don’t know, but we do know that Delaware needs to get serious about recycling. (The “Recycle Delaware” drop-off centers don’t capture enough waste to make much difference. Curbside pickup programs are essential.)

Festivities end on or about June 30th.

Look for more details in upcoming Green Delaware News. (C) Alan Muller


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Alan J. Muller, Exec. Director
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This page was last updated on June 27, 2000.