Written by Audrey Stallworth, who works in BBJ Group's Pittsburgh office
On February 16, 2021, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) officially adopted amendments to the Remediation Standard Regulations (RSRs) and the Environmental Use Restriction Regulations (EURs), two regulations governing the process of remediation of contaminated properties. In addition to these amendments, release-based regulations are expected soon. Once fully integrated, these updates will allow for the phase-out of the Connecticut Transfer Act. While it is essential to understand the logistics of new regulations to avoid non-compliance, it is also crucial to know what they replace and why.
Out With the Old: The Connecticut Transfer Act
The Connecticut Transfer Act regulates the transfer of businesses and real estate. To protect the buyer of a business or real property, the seller must complete an environmental site assessment and complete/submit one of eight forms to the CT DEEP. The appropriate form is determined by the type of property being transferred and the site assessment results. Releases or suspected releases of hazardous material at the property prompt remediation activities, which are overseen by a Licensed Environmental Professional (LEP) or the CT DEEP.
In With the New: the RSRs, EURs, and Release-Based Regulations
In June 2019, the CT DEEP kicked off their 20 BY 20 initiative, a set of 20 goals the CT DEEP planned to enact by 2020 to measurably improve regulatory processes by focusing on three factors: efficiency, predictability, and transparency. Number five on the list was to finalize the RSRs and EURs, which would improve the clarity of regulations guiding environmental cleanups. In October 2020, Public Act No. 2-9 was authorized by the Connecticut legislature. This bill facilitated the transition away from the Transfer Act by authorizing revisions to the program and authorizing the development and eventual implementation of a release-based remediation program.
How do the RSRs and EURs improve the efficiency, predictability, and transparency of regulations guiding remediation activities? Most of the changes transfer oversight responsibilities from the CT DEEP to LEPs, intending to remove barriers that would typically slow down these pollution cleanup programs. For instance, the RSRs and EURs created Notices of Activity and Use Limitations (NAULs), a new type of environmental land use restriction that can be approved and implemented by a LEP instead of the CT DEEP. LEPs will also be allowed to authorize minor excavations in cases where minimal remediation activities are required, which in the past were restricted. Release-specific remedies will add to the pathways available for compliance at a contaminated site by allowing LEPs to approve specific engineering controls at a contaminated site. The release-based cleanup program, currently in development, will finalize the replacement of the CT Transfer Act.