Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/17/1993 03:56 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  SENATOR  MILLER  called the  Resources Committee  meeting to                 
  order at 3:56 p.m. and announced  SB 103 AIR QUALITY CONTROL                 
  PROGRAM                                                                      
  to be up for consideration.                                                  
                                                                               
  JANICE   ADAIR,   Assistant   Commissioner,  Department   of                 
  Environmental  Conservation, said  in  1990 Congress  passed                 
  amendments   to   the  Clean   Air   Act  which   created  a                 
  comprehensive permit  program for  facilities that emit  air                 
  pollutants.  The  federal changes  would require changes  to                 
  statutes and the accompanying regulations in probably all 50                 
  states, and certainly here in Alaska.                                        
                                                                               
  The down  side to  not making  these changes  in Alaska  and                 
  keeping the Air  Quality Program being  run by the state  is                 
  that industry, needing the permits, would  have to go to EPA                 
  in Seattle or Denver to get them and federal highway funding                 
  would also be cut off as there is a mandate in the Clean Air                 
  bill to cut off highway funding after 18 months.                             
                                                                               
  Last year the  Department invited  a group  of the  affected                 
  industries and the environmental community to participate in                 
  a work group to advise them on how the federal program could                 
  best be worked, Ms. Adair said.  The bill before them is the                 
  product of  that group.   She  said that  Tom Chapple,  DEC,                 
  chaired the Committee.                                                       
                                                                               
  The Committee decided that it wanted to deal only with those                 
  elements that were  essential and  required for the  federal                 
  program, so the bill is much smaller than it was last year.                  
                                                                               
  Number 113                                                                   
                                                                               
  TOM CHAPPLE, Environmental Engineer, said  he is the project                 
  manager  for  the  permits  group  within  the  air  quality                 
  section.  He explained  that the 1990 Act is the first major                 
  overhaul since 1970. It  works on the premise of  protecting                 
  public  health and  welfare.   It sets  ambient air  quality                 
  standards.  The emphasis is to clean up areas that currently                 
  exceed those public health standards  or maintain areas that                 
  are currently within those standards.                                        
                                                                               
                                                                               
  The two primary mechanisms to get at that goal  are a permit                 
  program to manage  emissions from stationary sources  of air                 
  pollution  and  the other  addresses  mobile sources  of air                 
  pollution.  SB 103 addresses only the permit program.                        
                                                                               
  The concepts of the permit program are that one permit would                 
  contain all  the requirements  of the  act that  apply to  a                 
  given installation.   The operator would know what  he needs                 
  to do to comply with all five hundred pages of the Act.  And                 
  SB 103 contains the concept of being able to voluntarily opt                 
  out of the program if air emissions are right at the cut off                 
  level.                                                                       
                                                                               
  The  Act  requires public  participation  in each  and every                 
  permit  and  EPA  participation  in  reviewing that  permit.                 
  There are  administrative and  judicial review  features, so                 
  once a permit action is taken, there is an appeal process.                   
                                                                               
  Another major feature  of the Act  is the acid rain  program                 
  that  has the focus  of reducing emissions  from large power                 
  plants.   Since this  is  primarily an  east coast  problem,                 
  Alaska is totally exempt.                                                    
                                                                               
  In the SB 103 the state would do the enforcement so only one                 
  entity needs to be dealt  with.  The EPA, however,  has much                 
  more enforcement authority.                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 195                                                                   
                                                                               
  Another  change  in the  Act  is that  Congress  created 189                 
  hazardous air pollutants.  But  they didn't establish public                 
  health standards for  these pollutants.  Congress  wanted to                 
  use technology to  reduce the  emissions and  see what  that                 
  does over a period of 10 years.                                              
                                                                               
  Three  types of facilities need  permits, ones that emit 100                 
  tons or more of a regulated air pollutant, ones that emit 10                 
  tons or more of any one  of the hazardous air pollutants, or                 
  if you emit less than 10 tons one but emit more than 25 tons                 
  of any number of them.                                                       
                                                                               
  Facilities subject  to specific federal emission limits also                 
  need a permit.  There are  two major categories here, one is                 
  new  source  performance  standards which  is  an  equipment                 
  specific type of emission standards.  If there is a specific                 
  federal  regulation  for  a  type  of equipment,  then  that                 
  facility would need a permit.                                                
                                                                               
  Currently 170 permits are  issued to separate  installations                 
  around  the  state.   Current  criteria  says that  any  new                 
  installation that emits more  than 250 tons needs  a permit.                 
  The  new  Act requires  a permit  from  any existing  or new                 
  facility that emits 100 tons.  This is why they will need to                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  issue permits to a projected 450 installations.                              
                                                                               
  MR. CHAPPLE said the  state could be more responsive  to the                 
  needs of its public and industry than EPA could if they were                 
  running the permit  program.   He felt it  was important  to                 
  prevent federal intervention.                                                
                                                                               
  The fee structure  in SB 103  is designed to create  several                 
  incentives that foster  efficiency.  They want to  make sure                 
  everyone understands  the rules  of the  program, therefore,                 
  they  are  explicit.     The  current  program   lacks  this                 
  understanding.                                                               
                                                                               
  Number 320                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR FRANK asked  if he  had an estimate  of how much  it                 
  would  cost  industry   to  comply  with  the   new  federal                 
  standards.  Mr. CHAPPLE answered they hadn't determined that                 
  yet.                                                                         
                                                                               
  SENATOR FRANK said he was trying to get a sense of  what was                 
  going to be involved besides extra administrative costs.                     
                                                                               
  MR. CHAPPLE said  the Clean  Air Act requires  the state  to                 
  enhance the scope of what's in  the permit and its attention                 
  to  permits.     There  are  more  requirements   to  assure                 
  compliance  as time moves  on - periodic  maintenance of the                 
  oversight of the  activity.  This  should help correct  some                 
  compliance problems they are now having.   As for the burden                 
  of preparing  the permits,  this is  an upgrade,  but not  a                 
  major  overhaul,  of  how  existing  industry  is  currently                 
  regulated.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 376                                                                   
                                                                               
  CARL  HARMAN,  Environmental  Engineer,   Chugach  Electric,                 
  supported  SB 103  fully.  If  this bill is  not passed this                 
  year, the air program will be put in the hands of EPA.                       
                                                                               
  Number 398                                                                   
                                                                               
  STEVE  TAYLOR,  Manager,   Environmental  Affairs,  BP,  and                 
  representing the Oil and Gas  Association, commented that in                 
  reality the federal act is one of the most onerous pieces of                 
  environmental legislation  that has  ever been  passed.   It                 
  imposes many requirements  on the state  of Alaska that  are                 
  unwarranted and  unnecessary.   If Alaska  doesn't implement                 
  the program,  EPA  would and  that  would be  an  unworkable                 
  situation.    Certain provisions  built  into the  Act allow                 
  flexibility  within the  state,  for  example,  the  general                 
  permit program.                                                              
                                                                               
  Another advantage is  that the program could  be implemented                 
  much cheaper by the state than by the federal government and                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  used the fee structure  in SB 103 as an example.   They also                 
  felt that the jobs  for processing the permits should  go to                 
  Alaskans rather than to people in Seattle or Denver.                         
                                                                               
  The state  fee structure is extremely fair, MR. TAYLOR said.                 
  Anyone who applies for a permit will pay for the actual time                 
  DEC spends in  processing the  permit.   The permittee  will                 
  have  a chance  to appeal the  cost if  he thinks it  is too                 
  much.   He  will also  be  able to  cut  costs by  doing  an                 
  extremely good job of preparing his  permit and he can do  a                 
  good job  of complying  if he  wants to  reduce the  cost of                 
  enforcement.  The emission fee  is also fair and  equitable,                 
  because it  is scaled  according  to how  much emission  the                 
  facility has.                                                                
                                                                               
  The federal Act  has mandatory penalties which  is something                 
  that  is  relatively  new  in  the  field  of  air  quality.                 
  Therefore,  structured into the  bill is a  method to ensure                 
  that the front line employee that  happens to be operating a                 
  piece of air equipment is  given sufficient training so that                 
  he will know when he is violating the law.                                   
                                                                               
  Number 485                                                                   
                                                                               
  RUSSELL   HEATH,   Director,  Alaska   Environmental  Lobby,                 
  supported SB 103 and agreed with previous testimony.                         
                                                                               
  SENATOR FRANK asked if he was a member of the working group.                 
  He said  he  was not,  he  is  standing in  today  for  Andy                 
  Goolinger who was the member representing  the environmental                 
  community.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 497                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR FRANK asked how  they decided who would make  up the                 
  working committee and if  efforts were made to bring  in the                 
  small operators.   MR.  CHAPPLE said  they asked people  who                 
  were directly involved.   They intended  to have a seat  for                 
  the small business  sector, but they  learned that a lot  of                 
  small industry wasn't going to be involved.  This Act really                 
  affected the category of rural power people who were already                 
  represented on the committee.   There are probably less than                 
  a  half  dozen  dry  cleaners,  auto  body  shops,  and  the                 
  construction  industry  that will  need  permits.   They did                 
  contact  the  Association  of General  Contractors  and  the                 
  Executive Director did come to a couple of their meetings.                   
                                                                               
  Number 537                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR FRANK said  he had a  letter from the Alaska  Forest                 
  Association saying they couldn't participate in the citizens                 
  advisory  group.    MR. CHAPPLE  answered  they  invited the                 
  timber  industry and  pulp  mills to  be  involved, but  for                 
  various reasons they declined.                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Number 550                                                                   
                                                                               
  ROBERT REGES, Assistant Attorney General, said his case load                 
  is mostly DEC  related.   He said the  benefits the  lawyers                 
  gain from a permit program are that it offers the individual                 
  operators an informal setting in which  to engage in dispute                 
  and resolution.                                                              
                                                                               
  It  gives  the Department  of  Law the  opportunity  to gain                 
  perspective and  background  for  comparing  facilities  for                 
  exercising  enforcement  discretion.   They  can  see  which                 
  operators are  suffering a problem that is  endemic to their                 
  type of facility and which operators are clearly out of sync                 
  with  the  rest   of  the  similarly  situated   owners  and                 
  operators.                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. REGES asked them to look at Section 156 which dealt with                 
  the regulatory authority  and noted that a number of section                 
  from last years bill had been deleted.                                       
                                                                               
  TAPE 93-9, SIDE B                                                            
  Number 580                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 565                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR FRANK questioned  the fact that this bill  would not                 
  reach a  small facility that is  a heavy polluter.   He also                 
  wondered  if  it  was  good  regulatory philosophy  for  the                 
  Department  to  use  a  best  available technology  approach                 
  rather  than  having  a  specific   level  of  pollution  or                 
  something like that.                                                         
                                                                               
  Number 536                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR.  REGES explained that if two facilities are under common                 
  ownership  and  control and  are  contiguous, they  would be                 
  treated  as one  facility and  would become  subject to  the                 
  permit  program.    However,  there  are  certain diminimous                 
  thresholds below which  it's not administratively  practical                 
  to go.                                                                       
                                                                               
  MR. CHAPPLE commented  on Senator Frank's concern  that this                 
  Act  would  not  be improving  practices  at  all facilities                 
  rather than just  selecting some.   He said  in reality  100                 
  tons  of air pollution in  most of Alaska is inconsequential                 
  and doesn't  cause a  public health  problem.   Part of  the                 
  Department's  job  when  they implement  the  program  is to                 
  decide if there is a public health concern.                                  
                                                                               
  Another part of  the act, MR.  CHAPPLE said, focuses on  the                 
  use of new technology.  When new equipment is installed at a                 
  new facility,  you should implement  best available  control                 
  technology for  that new  technology.   This is  one of  the                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  major themes of the Act.                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 515                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR FRANK asked if they had  the discretion to make that                 
  sort of public health judgement within the federal law?  MR.                 
  CHAPPLE said they  implement those  provisions now in  their                 
  permit  program.   There  is no  overall incentive  to bring                 
  everyone up to a  higher level.  MR. CHAPPLE  explained that                 
  one of the explicit reasons Congress  said they did not want                 
  to  establish  public  health  standards  for  hazardous air                 
  pollutants is because it's gotten caught in  the quagmire of                 
  debate  over  what  is adequate  to  protect  public health.                 
  Experience has shown them that  establishing safe levels has                 
  not worked.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 431                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. REGES said the way he understood it is that health based                 
  perspectives    were    extrapolated    from    inconclusive                 
  observations.    Technology  based perspectives  are  simply                 
  seeing what technology is out there and identifying the best                 
  example of it for a standard.   It is very objective and  is                 
  based on what they are already achieving.                                    
                                                                               
  He explained that there are two  standards, the out of stack                 
  emissions and the ambient standard.                                          
                                                                               
  Number 405                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR MILLER said he would put  SB 103 into a subcommittee                 
  consisting  of  himself  as  Chairman,  Senator  Leman,  and                 
  Senator Zharoff.                                                             

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