Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bill to Revise EPA Laws Passes in the Ohio House

Release: <blockquote>
COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives today passed legislation that will revise laws pertaining to the operation and regulations of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The legislation, Senate Bill 294, addresses waste management, outlines safety protocol for the handling of specific types of waste, and simplifies certain administrative aspects of the OEPA.
“Senate Bill 294 revises state standards for the management of certain types of waste that may pose environmental or health risks,” said Representative Dave Hall, Chairman of the Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. “These are crucial changes for our state, and I commend Senator Schaffer and Director Nally for working together to strengthen our protections while simplifying the law.”
Among many of the changes to specific programs contained in SB 294, it specifies the exemption of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials from municipal solid waste fees so that they can be accepted at a specially licensed construction and demolition debris facility or a municipal solid waste landfill. Additionally, the construction and demolition debris fees will be lower.
“This legislation promotes responsible disposal, but doesn’t put Ohio businesses in a bind with extraneous regulation,” Representative Hall said. “By clarifying the rules for waste management, compliance will be greater and our communities will be safer.  This legislation does as much for public safety as it does for the environment.”
Wetlands are further protected through SB 294 by clarifying that a business must demonstrate that it attempted to use other means of mitigation for wetlands impact before using the new in-lieu fee program. It also allows for wetlands categories verified by OEPA to be valid for a period of five years.
Also among the provisions of the bill, it makes the OEPA more responsive in the sense that alters the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit system so that compliance history can be taken into account and that the permits for coal facilities must be granted or denied within a 60 day window. Furthermore, a customer service program will be added to the Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention. This will allow businesses and others to freely comment on how performance can be better improved.
Senate Bill 294 will now return to the Senate for a vote of concurrence.