February 18, 2005
If approved, the legislation would set in motion an application process to the Environmental Protection Agency for state "primacy" over NPDES permits.
"As Alaskans, we owe our children and grandchildren a clean environment and a strong economy. This legislation will allow us to better accomplish that goal," Murkowski said. "Alaska would join 45 other states that now perform this important task."
Currently, an Alaska applicant could wait as long as 31 months for an NPDES permit. In Washington state, which has primacy over wastewater permits, the wait is about eight months.
"I have pledged permitting efficiency for our resource development industry, but we can't reform what we don't control. Without primacy, we are stuck with a cumbersome federal permitting program, run out of Seattle, that does not serve Alaska's conditions or needs, and over which we have little or no control," Murkowski said.
The Clean Water Act intends states to implement the NPDES program with oversight from the EPA. The Legislature directed the Department of Environmental Conservation to evaluate the consequences of assuming NPDES primacy in 2002. After the department's January 2004 report was issued, Murkowski assembled a working group of industry and local government officials to consider the costs and benefits of assuming primacy over NPDES permitting. That workgroup finished its work in January 2005 with a general consensus to proceed.
"Currently, the EPA decides
how to apply Alaska's water quality standard, priorities, process
and scheduling. My proposal would give Alaskans the power to
issue permits that reflect our priorities and unique conditions,
in other words, permits that make sense to Alaska," Murkowski
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