Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

02/09/2018 01:00 PM RESOURCES

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Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
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-- Testimony <Invited/Public> --
        HB 305-OIL/HAZARDOUS SUB.:CLEANUP/REIMBURSEMENT                                                                     
2:32:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON announced  that the  final order  of business                                                               
would  be  HOUSE BILL  NO.  305,  "An  Act  relating to  oil  and                                                               
hazardous substances and waiver  of cost recovery for containment                                                               
and cleanup of  certain releases; and providing  for an effective                                                               
2:33:18 PM                                                                                                                    
KRISTIN  RYAN,   Director,  Division  of  Spill   Prevention  and                                                               
Response (SPAR), Department  of Environmental Conservation (DEC),                                                               
introduced  HB 305  at the  request of  the governor.   Ms.  Ryan                                                               
informed the  committee DEC increased  its cost  recovery efforts                                                               
recently, which  has created difficulties for  homeowners who are                                                               
responsible for spills of home  heating oil.  In fact, homeowners                                                               
are reluctant to  contact DEC because they don't  want to receive                                                               
a bill.   She said  a homeowner is required  by state law  to pay                                                               
for the cost  to cleanup a spill of a  hazardous substance and to                                                               
repair the environment,  which would not be changed  by the bill.                                                               
The change  made by  HB 305  would be that  SPAR would  no longer                                                               
have  to bill  a responsible  homeowner  for providing  technical                                                               
assistance.     Technical   assistance   includes  supporting   a                                                               
homeowner who is  overwhelmed by a situation of  which he/she has                                                               
no expertise,  financially or  emotionally.   Further, homeowners                                                               
do  not  have the  experience  or  skill  needed to  address  the                                                               
problem.   After contact by  a homeowner, SPAR inspects  the site                                                               
of the spill and provides  advice; currently, SPAR is required to                                                               
send  a bill,  which prevents  homeowners from  asking for  help.                                                               
Ms. Ryan  said SPAR seeks  relief from its mandate  of recovering                                                               
its  expenses of  providing assistance  to homeowners,  which she                                                               
opined  would   help  homeowners   respond  to  the   spill  more                                                               
efficiently,  and prevent  additional damage  due to  a delay  in                                                               
reporting a spill.  She pointed  out SPAR is the only division in                                                               
DEC that  is required to  recover its cost -  other environmental                                                               
programs are  funded through a  permit system - but  consumers do                                                               
pay a  "permit fee" when  they buy gas  and pay almost  one penny                                                               
per  gallon  for SPAR's  assistance.    Finally, SPAR  has  found                                                               
insurance  companies  are  unwilling   to  provide  insurance  to                                                               
homeowners against  home heating oil spills,  thus homeowners are                                                               
faced  with an  expensive financial  burden as  the cleanup  at a                                                               
home  can  cost  from  $10,000   to  $60,000,  depending  on  the                                                               
circumstances,   for  example,   leaks   migrating  under   house                                                               
foundations are dangerous to dwellers.                                                                                          
2:39:33 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH directed attention to  a summary from DEC to                                                               
the co-chairs dated 2/7/18 which  reported in 2017, there were 37                                                               
crude oil spills totaling 1,655  gallons, and 1,503 non-crude oil                                                               
spills  totaling 188,379  gallons  [document not  provided].   He                                                               
asked whether homeowner spills are  included in the non-crude oil                                                               
spill summary.                                                                                                                  
MS.  RYAN  said   yes.    She  explained   SPAR's  annual  report                                                               
identifies spills  by type  of product, and  refined fuel  is the                                                               
predominant product spilled.  In  addition, spills are identified                                                               
by types of industry and location.   Home heating oil tank spills                                                               
typically account for approximately  2 percent of overall spills,                                                               
which she cautioned may be seriously underreported.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked whether DEC  would recover costs for a                                                               
spill, for example, at a school.                                                                                                
MS.  RYAN said  HB  305  does not  affect  DEC penalty  statutes;                                                               
however, a spill of any volume could draw a penalty.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  asked if,  under HB 305,  one would  not be                                                               
billed for  a call to  DEC to report an  oil spill, but  would be                                                               
subject to a penalty.                                                                                                           
MS. RYAN  said HB 305 only  addresses cost recovery and  does not                                                               
change DEC's ability to enforce a penalty if warranted.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH surmised the intent  of HB 305 is to reduce                                                               
homeowners' anxiety  - that is related  to a spill -  by allowing                                                               
the state  to provide assistance  without cost; in  addition, the                                                               
state  would no  longer  be  compelled to  bill  a homeowner  for                                                               
MS. RYAN said yes.                                                                                                              
2:45:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  suggested homeowners have  other worries                                                               
after an oil spill, such as whether their property is condemned.                                                                
MS.  RYAN said  the  bill  is specific  about  cost recovery  for                                                               
providing  technical assistance;  the homeowner  is still  liable                                                               
for  cleaning up  the release.    [DEC] maintains  a database  of                                                               
sites when contamination remains above  cleanup level in order to                                                               
protect human health.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  gave an  example  of  a property  where                                                               
monitoring was needed for 10 years.                                                                                             
MS.  RYAN explained  institutional  controls  and monitoring  are                                                               
required in  difficult situations  where the  contamination level                                                               
remains high, or  during treatment.  If HB 305  becomes law, SPAR                                                               
would not have to send a bill each year for monitoring reports.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH  expressed  support   for  the  intent  and                                                               
purpose of HB  305; he asked whether callers  are identified when                                                               
assistance is requested.                                                                                                        
MS.  RYAN acknowledged  SPAR  frequently  provides assistance  to                                                               
anonymous callers.                                                                                                              
2:51:12 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 2:51 p.m. to 2:52 p.m.                                                                       
[CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON opened public testimony on HB 322.]                                                                         
2:52:31 PM                                                                                                                    
FABIENNE PETER-CONTESSE informed the  committee she works for the                                                               
state  and is  testifying  as  a private  citizen  and a  36-year                                                               
resident  of Juneau.   She  expressed support  for HB  305, which                                                               
would allow  DEC to waive cost  recovery for small oil  spills in                                                               
residential units.   Ms. Peter-Contesse said  the underground oil                                                               
tank leaked at  her home in Juneau and she  reported the spill to                                                               
DEC.   She received advice  from DEC,  hired a contractor  to dig                                                               
out and clean the tank,  and began remediation.  Remediation cost                                                               
tens of  thousands of dollars  for cleanup,  equipment, disposal,                                                               
and  soil  testing, none  of  which  was covered  by  homeowner's                                                               
insurance.  The staff at DEC  were "exceptional" and in 2017, she                                                               
received a  bill for their  assistance.  Ms.  Peter-Contesse said                                                               
she did everything  she was advised to do, and  staff at DEC said                                                               
they were required to recover  their costs.  After receiving more                                                               
advice and  more bills, she  decided not to contact  DEC further.                                                               
At  that  point, "it  put  a  barrier  between  us and  DEC  that                                                               
shouldn't exist."   Although she  is a responsible  homeowner who                                                               
wishes to clean  up the property, she is not  willing to continue                                                               
to communicate  with DEC and  get charged.  She  acknowledged the                                                               
state's fiscal crisis and the  need to increase revenue; however,                                                               
DEC  garners no  more  than $60,000-$70,000  per  year from  cost                                                               
recovery  and residents  already pay  into  the SPAR  fund.   Ms.                                                               
Peter-Contesse said  the existing statute  does not help  DEC and                                                               
the  state achieve  the goal  of cleaning  up the  oil spill  and                                                               
advising residents how to do so.                                                                                                
2:57:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON  asked if  Ms.  Peter-Contesse  was levied  a                                                               
penalty for the spill.                                                                                                          
MS. PETER-CONTESSE  said no.   She was unsure of  the regulations                                                               
addressing residential oil spills.                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON  observed  this  is  evidence  DEC  exercises                                                               
restraint  when  issuing  penalties.     He  said  the  foregoing                                                               
testimony is compelling.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH urged  for uniformity of laws  for those who                                                               
accidently spill  oil.  He  said he  supported HB 305,  and urged                                                               
the committee to treat responsible parties equitably.                                                                           
3:00:30 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH asked how  much more remediation would have                                                               
cost without help from DEC.                                                                                                     
MS.  PETER-CONTESSE said  she saved  money by  getting assistance                                                               
from DEC  and doing most of  the work without a  contractor.  She                                                               
cautioned getting a  bill from DEC may prevent  others from doing                                                               
the right thing.                                                                                                                
[HB 305 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
AK Trucking Assn, 49 CFR Part 130.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 322
AK Trucking Assn testimony.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 322
HB 322 - AOGA Testimony - Final - 2.7.2018.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 322
1 2.7.2018 - DEC Response to H RES re HB322.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 322
2 OHSRRF 4th Qtr 2017.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 322
HB 322 Sectional Analysis.docx HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 322
HB 322 Sponsor Statement.docx HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/12/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 322
HB 322 HRES PwrPt for Feb 2.pdf HRES 2/2/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/12/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 322
HB 322 DEC Spill Penalties Overview 2.2.18.pdf HRES 2/2/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/12/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 322
SPAR Spill Penalties Overview Presentation.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 322
HB 322 Sectional PwrPt.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 322
HB322 Fiscal Note - DEC-SPAR 2.1.18.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 322
HB305 Transmittal Letter 1.25.2018.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 305
HB305 ver A 1.25.2018.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 305
HB305 Sectional Analysis ver A 1.25.2018.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 305
HB305 Fiscal Note DEC-SPAR 1.25.2018.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 305
HB305 Supporting Document - Fact Sheet 1.25.2018.pdf HRES 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 2/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 305