Legislature(1993 - 1994)

01/20/1993 08:00 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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  Number 460                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR pointed out this Division was funded primarily                     
  through the Oil and Hazardous Substance Response Fund (the                   
  470 Fund), created by HB 470 in 1986.  The 470 Fund received                 
  no monies until the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and at that time                 
  the legislature passed a nickel per barrel conservation                      
  surcharge on all Alaska North Slope crude which went                         
  directly into the 470 Fund.  She explained that the statute                  
  was specific and the only time the 470 Fund could be used                    
  without specific legislative appropriation was in the event                  
  of an eminent and substantial threat to the environment from                 
  a release of oil or hazardous substance.  Sometimes this                     
  would be preventative and sometimes after the fact.  Part of                 
  the Underground Storage Tank Program was not eligible for                    
  funding out of the 470 Fund.                                                 
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR stated an annual report by the DEC on the 470 Fund                 
  was due to be out soon.  She explained other agencies also                   
  received monies from the 470 Fund such as the Division of                    
  Emergency Services within the Department of Military and                     
  Veterans Affairs, the Department of Fish and Game and the                    
  Department of Natural Resources.  The State Emergency                        
  Response Commission (SERC) also received money out of the                    
  470 Fund.  She pointed out the SERC had its roots in federal                 
  law and even though it was established during the same time                  
  as the Exxon Valdez spill, it was created in response to the                 
  Union Carbide chemical release.                                              
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR pointed out in Alaska statutes, oil was sometimes                  
  defined as a hazardous substance.  She felt Title 46 which                   
  directed the DEC's activities needed to be cleaned up.  She                  
  offered to answer any questions regarding the 470 Fund.                      
                                                                               
  Number 530                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL offered to brief the committee on the annual                   
  report of the 470 Fund.                                                      
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS noted for the record that Representative                   
  Hudson and Carney joined the committee at 8:40 a.m.                          
                                                                               
  Number 540                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. MENGE, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY,                      
  explained that the programs in this Division had to do with                  
  air, land, and water, including solid waste management, air                  
  quality, etc., and these programs effected everyone's lives.                 
  He said some of these programs typified the partnership with                 
  federal programs and Congress desired that local governments                 
  administer the programs to the maximum extent feasible.  The                 
  concept known as "primacy" was offered by the federal                        
  government, and the state had primacy in the air arena at                    
  present.  In accepting primacy, the state accepted all the                   
  federal mandates, however, it also afforded some opportunity                 
  for local control.                                                           
                                                                               
  MR. MENGE pointed out federal laws in many cases were                        
  written for other states and would not take into                             
  consideration Alaska situations.  He felt his Division often                 
  acted as a go-between to moderate some of the inflexible                     
  positions the EPA might take in order to protect the Alaska                  
  environment to the maximum extent possible.  He said other                   
  issues within the Division were drinking water, industrial                   
  waste water, including municipalities, and industrial                        
  discharge where the EPA issued permits and had primacy.  He                  
  explained the program of domestic waste water was in the                     
  process of being privatized.  A manual was being created,                    
  training through the University and certification through                    
  DEC should help complete that process, he added.                             
                                                                               
  Number 610                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. MENGE said another water issue was non-point source                      
  pollution.  He explained a point source as anything that                     
  came out of a pipe and anything else that dealt with water,                  
  such as rain falling on a parking lot or a stream in a                       
  backyard.  Forest practices was the major area where non-                    
  point source pollution was a consideration.  Storm water was                 
  also a non-point source water pollution issue.  He felt                      
  after the reauthorization of the Clean Water Act and since                   
  the issues of non-point sources which included agriculture,                  
  irrigation, forestry and storm water run-off had not been                    
  addressed in the last 20 years, that federal legislation                     
  would be seen in this area in 1993.                                          
                                                                               
  MR. MENGE said another non-point source program was the                      
  water quality standards program.  The federal government,                    
  through the Clean Water Act, set up requirements for each                    
  state regarding water quality standards giving the state                     
  flexibility relating to those standards.  He said this was a                 
  complicated issue and offered any information needed when                    
  the issue came before the legislature.  In regard to solid                   
  and hazardous waste areas, the EPA and the DEC had formed a                  
  long-term partnership and historically, the EPA retained                     
  primacy in this area.  Five years ago, at the direction of                   
  the legislature, the DEC moved forward to obtain primacy of                  
  that program.  However, because of the budget restraints,                    
  more responsibility had been left with the EPA.  He felt                     
  this issue would also come before the legislature during the                 
  18th Legislative Session.                                                    
                                                                               
  MR. MENGE stated the State's Resource Conservation Recovery                  
  Act Program was designed to permit and inspect facilities to                 
  ensure their compliance with state and federal laws.  He                     
  explained that at the beginning of the year, the DEC and the                 
  EPA negotiated which activities would be performed by each                   
  organization.  After a spill, the DEC's Division of Spill                    
  Prevention and Response would have jurisdiction.  He said                    
  solid waste management, primarily municipal solid waste, was                 
  in his Division's jurisdiction, and also included large                      
  volume waste associated with mining and oil and gas                          
  activities.  Major new federal laws were being passed and                    
  the state was in the process of adopting regulations in                      
  order to retain primacy in this area.                                        
                                                                               
  Number 675                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. MENGE explained the EPA had offered significant                          
  incentives to allow the State to approach the resolution of                  
  problems in permafrost and remote areas that lacked                          
  transportation.  He pointed out the entire law regarding                     
  solid waste was written for areas that had roads, and in                     
  Alaska, a road was not always a part of the picture.  He                     
  said the organic chemical laboratory was used when a                         
  substance analysis was needed immediately, as well as                        
  certified private labs around the state.  In order to                        
  certify private labs, the laboratory must be able to not                     
  only do the testing needed, but also judge the quality of                    
  the work in private labs.                                                    
                                                                               
  MR. MENGE said work was being done to form partnerships with                 
  the University system, the Department of Health and Human                    
  Services, and the Forest Service, for better utilization of                  
  the laboratory facility and equipment, which could help                      
  offset the cost of maintaining the facility.                                 
                                                                               
  Tape 93-4, Side B                                                            
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. MENGE said the state's coastal zone interactions came                    
  under the jurisdiction of the Division of Environmental                      
  Quality.  The Division also was responsible for the quality                  
  of community agreements as referred to by Mead Treadwell.                    
  He hoped the agreements were being used as tools so                          
  communities and the DEC could work together more                             
  successfully.  He said the pollution prevention aspect was                   
  being integrated into the everyday permitting process.                       
                                                                               
  Number 074                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR pointed out the DEC was very important to the                      
  economic development of the state because a permitting                       
  requirement would be needed for such businesses as seafood                   
  processors, restaurants, bars, and hotels, or industrial                     
  businesses.  She assured members that the DEC was striving                   
  to process permits in a timely fashion and the conditions                    
  regarding the permit were reasonable.  Lastly, she said the                  
  Division of Information and Administrative Services provided                 
  financial services, reviewed grant applications, provided                    
  public information, personnel, supply and data processing.                   
                                                                               
  Number 117                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR stated the DEC expected a variety of activities in                 
  Washington, D.C., this year that would impact the DEC.  One                  
  of the most important issues might be a national seafood                     
  inspection program.  She pointed out the DEC's Division of                   
  Environmental Health seafood inspection program was                          
  considered a model for the United States and had been used                   
  as the basis for past federal bills, and could be used again                 
  in 1993 as a model.  Other issues that would affect Alaska                   
  were the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and                   
  Recovery Act which were up for reauthorization in 1993.                      
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR pointed out that both the governor's office in                     
  Washington, D.C., and a contract lobbyist working for the                    
  EPA helped keep the DEC informed on pending issues in                        
  Washington.  She said the DEC staff in some cases traveled                   
  to Washington, D.C., in order to bring information about                     
  Alaska's unusual circumstances such as the lack of roads in                  
  rural Alaska.                                                                
                                                                               
  Number 160                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL informed the committee that the DEC's                          
  Commissioner, John Sandor, served as one of three state                      
  trustees on the Exxon Settlement Trust Council.  He said                     
  that many issues, including Kachemak Bay, were being                         
  considered by these trustees and probably would be brought                   
  before the legislature.  Secondly, he said radiation threats                 
  affecting Alaska was an issue being worked on with the                       
  Department of Energy.  He also felt the committee would want                 
  a briefing on a study requested by the governor on radiation                 
  threats affecting Alaskans.                                                  
                                                                               
  Thirdly, MR. TREADWELL pointed out wetlands were Alaska's                    
  most important issue under the Clean Water Act.  Much of the                 
  state was wetlands and the federal government was the local                  
  zoning authority.  He stated that the DEC was drafting a                     
  state wetlands control program that would enable the state                   
  to receive a statewide general permit from the Corps of                      
  Engineers for a better wetlands management scheme.  The                      
  fourth issue he wanted the committee to be aware of was                      
  international issues.  He said the state was affected in the                 
  Arctic by what was put into the air and water by neighbors                   
  across the sea.                                                              
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL added the Department of State had asked Alaska                 
  to act as an observer and a participant in meetings of the                   
  Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy.  Also, the state                   
  was involved in several programs with the Northern Forum, an                 
  association of fourteen regional governments in the north,                   
  to exchange environmental and clean-up information.                          
                                                                               
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if a list of the funding of HB
  470 would be available to the legislature.                                   
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR said the report by the DEC was due to the                          
  legislature on the fifteenth or twentieth day of the                         
  session, and the transmittal letter and report would be on                   
  time.                                                                        
                                                                               
  Number 036                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES asked if the Clean Air Act bill was                    
  considered a consensus bill by the DEC.                                      
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR replied in the affirmative.  She pointed out a                     
  briefing had been held in the governor's conference room and                 
  all members of the interim committee that worked on the                      
  proposed legislation had voiced their support and intent to                  
  work to ensure passage of the Clean Air Act bill.  She said                  
  certain amendments added to the bill could cause some groups                 
  to withdraw their support.                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 047                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES asked for the approximate percentage                   
  of total support from federal dollars versus state dollars                   
  for the DEC's operation.                                                     
                                                                               
  TRACI CRAMER, BUDGET ANALYST FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF                           
  ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET,                 
  was unsure of the percentage, but disclosed the general fund                 
  portion of the operating budget was $21 million.                             
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR disclosed the total operating budget to be                         
  approximately $45 million.                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL explained that on a program by program basis                   
  the DEC received money for drinking water programs and air                   
  programs which, after the air bill, would be self                            
  liquidating, and have more federal mandates on solid                         
  hazardous waste with less funding.  He indicated the DEC                     
  received federal funding in other areas as well.                             
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES inquired into the percentage of                        
  program budgets that would be funded under user fees and was                 
  concerned that if the user fee was too high, compliance                      
  might be a problem.                                                          
                                                                               
  Number 118                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR said the DEC's goal was to privatize domestic                      
  septic system approvals.  For one year the DEC had been                      
  working toward this goal, she added, and explained that the                  
  DEC began septic system inspections as a favor to the                        
  lending industry.  She noted this was a very time consuming                  
  program which, in other states, was a local responsibility.                  
  She said the DEC was working with Alaska Housing and hoped                   
  to charge the $250 fee only when a private engineer was not                  
  used in such inspections.                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 150                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES asked whether the EPA office                  
  would be located in Anchorage or Juneau.                                     
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR disclosed the EPA office would be located in                       
  Anchorage, according to the Presidential directive.                          
                                                                               
  Number 160                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE PAT CARNEY asked why the DEC was spending                     
  state money for domestic septic system inspections without                   
  legislative regulations requiring the DEC to perform that                    
  function.                                                                    
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR said historically the DEC had performed domestic                   
  septic system inspections.  She noted lending institutions                   
  wanted insurance by the health authority that the septic                     
  system was in working order and in compliance with local                     
  regulations.  Because the Constitution said the legislature                  
  should provide for the public health, the DEC had been made                  
  the health authority for the state, and unless a local                       
  government passed an ordinance to take that responsibility                   
  upon themselves, the DEC held responsibility for this                        
  inspection.  When the DEC stopped doing these inspections in                 
  years past, banks stopped making loans and the DEC was                       
  forced to begin the process again, she advised.                              
                                                                               
  Number 204                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL pointed out although the DEC felt inspections                  
  were needed for septic tanks, it was not mandated under the                  
  DEC's regulations and, therefore, could be privatized.                       
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked how the DEC would like to handle                     
  questions from the legislature.                                              
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR preferred questions come to her office from the                    
  legislature, which she could then direct to the appropriate                  
  Division.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 244                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked the Committee to filter                          
  questions through the House Resources Committee staff so all                 
  members receive the information.                                             
                                                                               
  ANNOUNCEMENTS                                                                
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS announced that at 8:00 a.m. on Friday,                     
  January 22, 1993, there would be an overview hearing by the                  
  Department of Fish and Game.  He announced further that the                  
  House Special Committee on Fisheries had been invited to                     
  that meeting.                                                                
                                                                               
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  There being no further business to come before the                           
  committee, Chairman Williams adjourned the meeting at 9:50                   
  a.m.                                                                         

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