Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/22/2004 03:30 PM Senate RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                SB 355-WASTE MANAGEMENT/DISPOSAL                                                                            
CHAIR SCOTT  OGAN called the Senate  Resources Standing Committee                                                             
meeting  to  order at  3:30  p.m.  Present were  Senators  Thomas                                                               
Wagoner,  Ben  Stevens, Fred  Dyson,  Ralph  Seekins, Kim  Elton,                                                               
Georgianna  Lincoln and  Chair  Scott Ogan.  The  first order  of                                                               
business to come before the committee was SB 355.                                                                               
COMMISSIONER   ERNESTA  BALLARD,   Department  of   Environmental                                                               
Conservation  (DEC),  said  this bill  came  from  Administrative                                                               
Order 202, issued in December 2002.  The order asks DEC to review                                                               
its  programs   to  make  sure   they  are  compliant   with  its                                                               
constitutional  and statutory  responsibilities. She  briefed the                                                               
     We found  that our water  program had some holes  in it                                                                    
     -  that   both  its   statutory  authorities   and  its                                                                    
     regulatory   implementation    did   not    provide   a                                                                    
     comprehensive,  what  we   call  raindrops  to  oceans,                                                                    
     protection  of  the  waters  in  the  state.  The  bill                                                                    
     doesn't provide any new  statutory authorities for DEC.                                                                    
     It    does,    however,   make    fairly    significant                                                                    
     opportunities  for improvement  in the  way we  protect                                                                    
     water. I'd like to review those very briefly....                                                                           
     The most  important change  that the  bill makes  is in                                                                    
     the  method   of  permitting.   We  currently   have  a                                                                    
     statutory requirement  to permit and the  word 'permit'                                                                    
     is  specifically  used.  This  bill  will  change  that                                                                    
     requirement   to   the   ability   to   provide   prior                                                                    
     authorization. That  will allow us to  use a risk-based                                                                    
     spectrum of  tools. We can  use for  riskier situations                                                                    
     more   precise  permitting   tools;   for  less   risky                                                                    
     situations,  we can  use  new  tools, particularly  one                                                                    
     called 'Permit By Rule....'                                                                                                
     The  handout raised  the permitting  tool that  we will                                                                    
     intend to  use starting with individual  permits, which                                                                    
     we  have  now   -  in  which  we   have  an  individual                                                                    
     relationship  with a  specific discharger  and in  that                                                                    
     relationship  we  categorize   the  characteristics  of                                                                    
     their effluent  and specifically identify those  in the                                                                    
     permit -  a general permit  we use when we  authorize a                                                                    
     number  of smaller  activities in  a single  geographic                                                                    
     A permit  by rule  is one  of the  new tools  that this                                                                    
     bill will  allow us to  use. A  permit by rule  tool we                                                                    
     would  use to  permit relatively  low risk  activities,                                                                    
     but to  assure that the  people engaged in them  - such                                                                    
     as bilge pumping  would be a good example  - that there                                                                    
     are  rules,  which  they must  follow,  which  we  have                                                                    
     promulgated through  notice and comment  rulemaking. We                                                                    
     also will  have statutory  authority through  this bill                                                                    
     to  issue plan  approvals,  which we  do  use now,  and                                                                    
     finally, the  new statutory language  will allow  us to                                                                    
     use  an integrated  waste management  permit for  large                                                                    
     projects  that  have  multiple discharge  streams  that                                                                    
     could be  handled now with  the new bill with  a single                                                                    
     permit  instead of  with  multiple individual  permits.                                                                    
     The bill  also allows us  to use a very  important tool                                                                    
     called  administrative  extension   of  permits.  If  a                                                                    
     permit  has  expired,  this  bill   will  allow  us  to                                                                    
     administratively extend  it to be sure  that the person                                                                    
     holding  the  permit is  still  covered  if we've  been                                                                    
     unable  to attend  timely to  renewing or  changing the                                                                    
     It also allows us to  expand the requirements for proof                                                                    
     of   financial   responsibility.  This   is   important                                                                    
     particularly in the  case of mining in  Alaska where we                                                                    
     have  a  large   discharger  with  potential  long-term                                                                    
     implications for waste management -  that we be able to                                                                    
     require evidence  of financial  ability to  manage that                                                                    
     waste long  into the future  and, particularly,  in the                                                                    
     event that the company defaults.                                                                                           
     Finally,  the  bill   modifies  some  fairly  important                                                                    
     definitions.  The  present  definition of  solid  waste                                                                    
     requires us to determine  the intent of the discharger.                                                                    
     If  the  waste is  not  wanted,  it's considered  solid                                                                    
     waste. I  don't think it should  be up to the  state to                                                                    
     have to  determine what the  intent is.  The definition                                                                    
     of solid waste in this  bill runs to the common English                                                                    
     concept of  garbage and refuse  and the bill  allows us                                                                    
     to  differentiate  between  municipal solid  waste  and                                                                    
     other solid  waste - municipal  solid waste  being that                                                                    
     waste  discharged by  municipalities, common  household                                                                    
     waste. With  this new definition  we'll be able  to use                                                                    
     simple permit by rule  permitting for rural communities                                                                    
     who  now would  be  required to  go  through a  complex                                                                    
     individual  permit program.  The  combined benefits  of                                                                    
     the new  municipal solid waste definition  and the plan                                                                    
     approvals  will allow  us to  handle the  rural Alaskan                                                                    
     situation  with  much  better  results  and  much  more                                                                    
     effectively  and  efficiently  for  those  communities.                                                                    
     That  in  a quick  summary  is  what SB  355  provides.                                                                    
     There's  no  fiscal  note because  there  would  be  no                                                                    
     additional    staff   required    to   fulfill    these                                                                    
     responsibilities. It simply allows  us to use the staff                                                                    
     we have more efficiently.                                                                                                  
CHAIR  OGAN noted  that all  the  members of  the committee  were                                                               
SENATOR ELTON asked if he intended to move the bill.                                                                            
CHAIR OGAN said he didn't intend  to move it today, but wanted to                                                               
get it on the record.                                                                                                           
SENATOR BEN STEVENS asked if language  on page 2, line 22, saying                                                               
"Department authorization  shall be obtained for  direct disposal                                                               
and for  disposal, other than  of domestic sewage,  into publicly                                                               
owned or operated sewerage systems" was existing language.                                                                      
MR. DAN  EASTON, Director, Division  of Water, DEC,  replied that                                                               
that is existing language.                                                                                                      
SENATOR  STEVENS asked  if language  on page  3, lines  11 -  13,                                                               
saying, "The  department may require the  submission of plans..."                                                               
was existing language as well.                                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER BALLARD replied yes.                                                                                               
SENATOR  STEVENS   requested  a   sectional  analysis   from  the                                                               
department to see how section 3 was changed.                                                                                    
SENATOR SEEKINS asked what "active  ranges" meant on page 4, line                                                               
COMMISSIONER BALLARD replied that is existing language.                                                                         
CHAIR OGAN asked  if active ranges referred to  Eagle River Flats                                                               
where artillery is used.                                                                                                        
SENATOR ELTON said the department  requested that language two or                                                               
three years  ago. He noticed that  section 5 on page  6 generally                                                               
reduces the amount  of public notification from two  notices in a                                                               
newspaper  of  general  circulation  to one  notice  and  he  was                                                               
contemplating  an  amendment  that   would  avoid  that  kind  of                                                               
situation that  had already happened  in the southern end  of the                                                               
Kenai Peninsula, where coalbed methane  (CBM) leases were noticed                                                               
in the Kenai paper, but not in the Homer paper.                                                                                 
CHAIR  OGAN sought  other comments,  but there  were none  and he                                                               
held the bill for further work.                                                                                                 

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