The Housatonic Rest of River Municipal Committee was created in 2013 to advocate common Housatonic River cleanup goals for the Rest of River to the EPA. It is governed by an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed by each municipality. Committee members are appointed by their respective executive authorities. The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission has provided technical, fiduciary, facilitation and coordination assistance. The IGA authorized the Committee to represent the collective interests of the municipalities during development of the 2016 Permit and any potential subsequent actions.
Initially consisting of Pittsfield, Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Sheffield and Stockbridge, this was the first time all the Massachusetts municipalities on the Housatonic River directly impacted by the cleanup spoke with one voice. This single voice focus gave the Committee attention, access and a presence previously only afforded to Pittsfield. Before the 2016 Revised Permit was issued, the Committee sought to influence what would be in the EPA’s Permit governing the Rest of River cleanup. Pittsfield left the Committee in October 2016.
In order to effectively participate in the permit process, the Committee hired legal counsel, Hagens Berman, and exercised its rights as a party commenting on the Permit and subsequently appealed the permit before the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB). The key issue before the EAB for the municipalities was whether there would be one or more in-county hazardous waste landfills.
In 2018, the Committee joined mediation along with the U.S. EPA, the Housatonic River Initiative, the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Mass Audubon, the State of Connecticut, the City of Pittsfield, C. Jeffrey Cook, and GE. In February 2020, nearly all of the parties entered into a mediated settlement, which can be viewed (Fully Executed Settlement Agreement – see Documents). A Statement from the Housatonic Rest of River Municipal Committee can be found (Final Rest of River Media Packet -see Documents).
The Committee has worked together for over six years and will continue to do so during the EPA’s rewrite of the 2016 Revised Permit, the public comment period, final issuance of the new Permit and during all phases of the River cleanup.
For more information on land use issues please contact Thomas Matuszko, Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 442-1521 ext. 34.