Legislature(2003 - 2004)

2004-03-25 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2004-03-25                     House Journal                      Page 3084
HB 546                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 546 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                       
the Governor, entitled:                                                                             
     "An Act relating to regulation of the discharge of pollutants from                             
     timber-related activities under the National Pollutant Discharge                               
     Elimination System; relating to waste treatment and disposal                                   
     permits; making conforming amendments; and providing for an                                    
     effective date."                                                                               
was read the first time and referred to the Resources and Judiciary                                 
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                 
1.  Fiscal, Dept. of Environmental Conservation                                                     
The Governor's transmittal letter dated March 24, 2004, follows:                                    
"Dear Speaker Kott:                                                                                 
Under the authority of article III, section 18, of the Alaska                                       
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill that would allow the State of                                
Alaska to tailor part of its water discharge program to fit state                                   
concerns and environmental features.  This bill would authorize the                                 
State of Alaska to administer National Pollutant Discharge Elimination                              
System (NPDES) permits for the timber industry.  Presently, NPDES                                   
permitting, compliance, and enforcement decisions are made pursuant                                 
to federal law designed to apply generically to all 50 states.  The                                 
importance and value of assuming primacy is reflected by the fact that                              
45 other states have assumed primacy from the Environmental                                         
Protection Agency (EPA) for administering NPDES permits.                                            

2004-03-25                     House Journal                      Page 3085
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has the                                          
capacity and experience to successfully implement primacy for the                                   
timber industry.  DEC regulates a broad universe of technological and                               
water-quality aspects for waste and wastewater disposal activities.                                 
These activities include regulation of timber industry discharges such                              
as state certification of NPDES permits for log transfer facilities.                                
To accommodate NPDES primacy assumption, this bill would amend                                      
some existing permit requirements related to application submittals,                                
public notice and comment opportunities, the maximum term of                                        
permits, and the causes for termination or modification of an                                       
authorization.  These amendments would have the added benefit of                                    
streamlining and clarifying process requirements, to some extent, for                               
all waste treatment or disposal authorizations.                                                     
The bill also includes legislative findings and intent language, to                                 
underscore the fact that assuming partial primacy for the NPDES                                     
program for a single industry sector might facilitate future assumption                             
of a larger part or all of the NPDES program.  A single-sector pilot-                               
project-type program would allow the state to expand the current level                              
of expertise and gain valuable experience in administering the                                      
program and working to resolve program administration issues with                                   
the EPA, which retains oversight authority over state NPDES                                         
programs.  Because administration of the NPDES program is complex                                   
and costly, and assumption of the full program would require DEC to                                 
develop additional expertise, it makes sense to take measured steps                                 
toward full assumption by beginning with a single industry sector.                                  
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                            
                                Sincerely yours,                                                    
                                Frank H. Murkowski