Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/03/2004 09:06 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 546(JUD)                                                                                             
     "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."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken stated  this bill,  introduced by  the House  Rules                                                            
Committee   at  the  request  of   the  Governor,  "authorizes   the                                                            
Department of Environmental  Conservation to administer the National                                                            
Pollutant  Discharge  Elimination  System  permits  for  the  timber                                                            
industry."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ERNESTA   BALLARD,   Commissioner,   Department   of  Environmental                                                             
Conservation,  stated  that a  change was  adopted by  the House  of                                                            
Representatives  in Section 5 of this  bill, relating to  the public                                                            
notices required  in the proposed  area of waste material  disposal.                                                            
The number of public notices  required was increased from one notice                                                            
to "at  least two" publications  of notice.  Ms. Ballard  summarized                                                            
that this bill  is part of the Governor's objective  to "streamline"                                                            
the permit process.  This bill would not change permit  requirements                                                            
or  standards  of   protecting  water  quality,  but   rather  would                                                            
eliminate one  stop for the permit  applicant. Currently  applicants                                                            
must  obtain  permits  from  the federal  Environmental   Protection                                                            
Agency  (EPA)  and certify  those  permits  with the  Department  of                                                            
Environmental  Conservation  as  required by  the Clean  Water  Act.                                                            
Permits  required  by the  Clean  Water Act  cannot  be eliminated;                                                             
therefore,  the only action,  which could be  taken to simplify  the                                                            
permit process  is that provided for  in this legislation:  enabling                                                            
the State to assume primacy from the EPA in obtaining permits.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SFC 04 # 104, Side B 09:53 AM                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Ballard stated that  she was optimistic that the success of this                                                            
bill would demonstrate  the "reasonableness" of the  permit approach                                                            
it  embodies,  thus  serving  as  a  basis  for  proposing   similar                                                            
legislation in other industries.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde referred  to fiscal  note  #1 for  $412,600 from  the                                                            
Department of Environmental  Conservation. He noted that the federal                                                            
receipts  reflected  in  years 2005  and  2006  would no  longer  be                                                            
available  after  2006. He  questioned  the effect  of  the loss  in                                                            
funding.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Ballard  responded that  the federal  receipts reflect  a grant,                                                            
received  from  the  EPA,  which  the Department   of Environmental                                                             
Conservation would expend  over two years: 2005 and 2006. This grant                                                            
is intended to  assist the Department of Environmental  Conservation                                                            
with the  cost of  the rulemaking  required if  this legislation  is                                                            
implemented.  The  remaining expense  detailed  in  the fiscal  note                                                            
reflects  the general  fund  cost of  operating the  permit  program                                                            
after the federal grant is exhausted.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  asked if the cost of  rulemaking would be  eliminated                                                            
in conjunction with the federal grant.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Ballard  replied  that yes,  all necessary  rulemaking would  be                                                            
completed in 2005 and 2006.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JON TILLINGHAS,  Sealaska Corporation, testified in  support of this                                                            
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  offered a motion to  report the bill from  Committee                                                            
with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal note.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There was  no objection  and CS  HB 546 (JUD)  MOVED from  Committee                                                            
with  fiscal   note  #1   for  $412,600   from  the  Department   of                                                            
Environmental Conservation.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                

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