The tipping floor at the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority. (Christine Stuart / photo)

One of the last bill’s to make its way to the governor’s desk Wednesday was a bill that would allow the state to use $500 million in Green Bank Bonds to finance a new solid waste facility. 

The bill, which passed the House Monday, hung in the balance in the Senate as the clock ticked down to the end of the legislative session, but it finally made it onto the last consent calendar. 

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Among other things it would create a successor to the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (MIRA) and establish a wind down for the authority, which ran the plant in Hartford that was shuttered last July

“My understanding is there’s no real authorization for the money,” Sen. Rick Lopes, D-New Britain said. “It’s nebulous.” 

Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex, said it’s an authorization to “potentially bond.” 

So essentially, the bill doesn’t create any fee to pay off the Green Bank bonds. Lawmakers say that’s up for Lamont to figure out. But it’s likely the fee will eventually be raised from municipalities and haulers. 

“It’s not going to come from state coffers, it would have to come from the users,” Needleman said. 

Earlier this week, Gov. Ned Lamont was unable to convince lawmakers to impose a $1 per ton fee on municipalities for shipping the trash out of state as part of the two-year, $51.1 billion budget. 

“The governor has been pretty adamant that this has to be self-supporting,” Needleman said. 

The announcement of the plant closing follows debate over whether the state should help repair the facility, which was the last publicly owned trash-to-energy plant in the state and falling energy prices. 

Former MIRA President and CEO Tom Kirk said the sale of energy from burning the trash went from 12 cents a KWH to 3.5 cents a KWH. The sale of energy paid for about 40 to 50% of the operation of the plant and when that happened, the tipping fees for member towns increased. The facility began losing member towns who opted to send their trash out-of-state. 

The state refused to borrow money to help keep the plant limping along until a more environmentally friendly alternative could be found. 

It means with no more landfill capacity in the state most, if not all, of Connecticut’s 860,000 tons of trash is being shipped to states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey and Virginia. 

The bill, which received no debate in the Senate because it went on consent, would also allow municipalities to identify additional recyclable solid waste like food scraps for diversion.