Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Policy From the Statehouse

Senate Bill 386 - Deregulation of Water Pollution Control for Coal Mining Permits and Reduced Protection for Streams Statewide.

On Dec. 1, Ohio Senate Bill 386 was introduced into the Ohio Senate’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee. This bill will transfer authority of water pollution control for coal mining permits for coal companies from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). This transfer will compromise the water quality of not just Ohio’s coal-bearing regions, but has the potential to impact the entire state. Transferring any state authority out of the hands of regulatory and scientific experts is risky at best. In this case, it will have wide-ranging implications for water quality statewide.

SB 386 MINING PERMITS (Grendell): To transfer authority to issue section 401 water quality certifications, installation permits for disposal systems, and NPDES permits with respect to coal mining and reclamation operations from the Director of the Environmental Protection Agency to the Chief of the Division of Mineral Resources Management in the Department of Natural Resources and to provide for the timely issuance of coal mining and reclamation permits, and to amend the versions of sections 6111.04 and 6111.44 of the Revised Code that are scheduled to take effect July 1, 2009, to continue the provisions of this act on and after that effective date.

SB 386 contains provisions to remove requirements to assess the quality of designated streams statewide, and allow for filling before issuing a permit to pollute. Small headwater and short-lived streams are homes for rare aquatic wildlife, such as salamanders and frogs. These small headwater streams are also sites where pollutants are filtered out of water at the highest rates. This bill will open up unknown numbers of streams to permanent filling and loss of ecosystems.

Click to read the full text of SB 386.

___________________________________

Our Concerns
:
  • There are no provisions to pay for transfer and new staff with new authority.
  • The bill would remove stream analysis requirements for undesignated streams Statewide, before permits to pollute have been issued (pg. 82 lines 2533-2535).
  • On December 4th, the Director's of the Ohio EPA and Ohio DNR testified against Ohio Senate Bill 386. Governor Ted Strickland has issued letters of opposition as well.
SB 386 passed the Ohio Senate last week and has been introduced into the House. This time it contains language limiting state enforcement to nothing more stringent than already existing federal limits. This would be a significant roll back of laws that were put into place to protect streams from running orange from acid mine drainage, protect people’s water wells from drying up, and shield their property subsiding from pollution. SB 386 is scheduled for a possible vote in the Ohio House of Representatives on Wednesday, December 17, 2008. Call your State Representative in Columbus at (800.282.0253). Tell them to vote NO on the coal bill, Ohio Senate Bill 386.

Don’t delay—do it today! You can locate your representative by searching the General Assembly database with your zip code.

Tell your Ohio State Representative
:
  • Vote No Ohio Senate Bill 386.
  • It will damage Ohio streams and rivers.
  • I am against taking authority away from water quality experts.

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