Legal and Policy Updates: February 26, 2020
Below are air permits up for public comment across the state. If you are interested in learning more, or getting involved, please email me at [email protected] or call me at 205-701-4272.
|County*||Facility||Type of permit||Date posted**|
|Lee||Creekwood Resources, LLC||Minor Permit (and public hearing scheduled for March 31, 2020 at 6 PM)||2/20/2020|
|Colbert||Technocon International dba Alliance Metals||Synthetic Minor Operating Permit||2/13/2020|
|Franklin||Tiffin Motorhomes||Title V (major)||2/6/2020|
|Washington||Bay Gas Storage Company, LLC||Title V (major)||2/5/2020|
*Jefferson county air permitting is handled by the Jefferson County Dep’t of Health and the City of Huntsville air permitting is handled by the Huntsville Dep’t of Natural Resources. All other counties are handled by the Alabama Dep’t of Environmental Management.
**For Title V permits, comments are due 30 days from the posted day. For other permits, the comment deadline is 15 days from the posted date. Extensions and public hearings can be requested within those time frames.
You can find an updated 2020 AL Legislative Session Bill Tracking sheet here.
As I mentioned last time, the bills we are most interested in are HB36 and SB57. I blogged about their practical implications last time. Here are the updates on their movement:
- HB36: the “drone” bill. I haven’t mentioned yet, but this House bill has a Senate Companion Bill, SB45, and some additions were made to HB36 on the 20th. The effect of these additions, put simply, expands the already broad scope of this bill. Both bills seem on track to sail through committee, and HB36 was just added to the special order calendar for Thursday. If you agree that these bills infringe on First Amendment rights and threaten the ability to gather information to hold polluters accountable, then be sure to fill out this action alert that our friends at the Alabama Rivers Alliance have on their site.
- SB57: The Open Records Act bill. There was a public hearing scheduled for the bill on February 25, 2020. However, Sen. Cam Ward told reporter Bryan Lyman that he got “railroaded.” It appears opposition to the bill is coming from municipalities. This makes it even more crucial to voice your support of a more robust Open Records Act for Alabama.
A new bill that we are looking at more closely is SB117 (Companion bill is HB140, which has already moved to the Senate). This bill addresses the type of of “alternative cover materials” that ADEM has approved for use at landfills. ADEM does not demand that the landfill operator demonstrate that the alternative cover material is as effective in controlling odors, disease vectors, fires, scavenging, and littering as does a minimum of six inches of soil cover. In fact, many of the approved alternative cover materials are waste products. We believe that SB117 will allow poor alternative cover materials to be approved by ADEM without adequate investigation of their effectiveness.
David Ludder, an experienced environmental attorney who also works with GASP and other environmental groups, suggests two improvements could be made to SB117. The first is that ADEM should be required to demand that landfill operators demonstrate that proposed alternative cover materials will be as effective as soil in controlling odors, disease vectors, fires, scavenging, and littering as soil AND that it not be waste materials. Second, SB117 should be revised to prohibit approval of alternative cover materials where the closest residence is within one mile of the landfill facility boundary. That distance will significantly ameliorate concerns about offensive odors and disease vectors.
A hearing is scheduled at the Alabama Public Service Commission on the Alabama Power gas plant expansion (you can weigh in here to let the PSC know you don’t support this gas expansion) for March 9 starting at 10 AM. The hearing is likely to take several days and may run through March 12.
Hearing Location info: Carl L. Evans Chief Administrative Law Judge Hearing Complex Room 900 of the RSA Union Building 100 North Union Street Montgomery, AL 36130.
Sponsors of the EJ For All Act plan to introduce the bill tomorrow (Thursday, February 26, 2020). For any of you reading this in D.C., supporters are invited to a press conference from 10:00 A.M. to noon Eastern in the hearing room in Longworth 1334.
The bill has some of the same components as the Booker/Ruiz bill, including a right of action to go to court for violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and agency regulations, amendments to the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act requiring consideration of cumulative impacts in permitting, and enshrining the requirements of the EJ Executive Order into statutory law.
Initial principles for the bill online for comment, with a draft of the bill that you can see here. There are instructions of how you can get directly involved in this process as well. Be on the lookout for an action alert from GASP about the EJ for All Act too!
Haley joined GASP in 2014 as our programs manager and was named staff attorney in 2016. She has a B.A. from George Washington University, J.D. from Cumberland School of Law and a master’s in public administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.