Sen. Gale Candaras plans to file a bill forcing Natural Heritage to stop enforcing its regulations and to rewrite them to strike a better balance between all interested parties, including environmentalists, property owners and developers. Candaras said there is no effort to repeal the endangered species act. Rather, lawmakers want to ensure Natural Heritage “explicitly abides” by the law passed by the Legislature.
“The Natural Heritage folks passed regulations that went above and beyond what we intended them to do,” Candaras said.
Efforts to expand the bottle deposit law remain on the top of the environmental agenda.
Backers of the bottle bill said they feel like the chances of it passing “are better than ever” after winning approval in the Senate for the first time last summer. The bill failed to pass the House.
“I think the mood in the Legislature this year is more open to new measures,” Janet Domenitz, executive director of MassPIRG, said. “There seemed to be last session more of a, you know, the economy’s terrible and we have to sort of stand still and hope nothing falls on our head. But now the conversation, even in the first couple weeks of the year, seems more open to new ideas. So we are feeling optimistic.”
The bill is basically the same as the one filed last session, with a few tweaks, she said.
Approximately 80 percent of the public supports expanding the bottle bill to more types of beverage containers, she said, but supporters have no plans to take the measure directly to voters through a ballot initiative.
“It should be an easy lift for the Legislature,” Domenitz said. “It is not controversial. In other words, we would rather that our elected representatives take what seems like a very simple step given how much public support there is for the measure.”