permitting authority to State of Alaska
July 24, 2008
Today, Alaska is counted among a handful of states that do not currently possess water quality permitting authority for local waters. Forty-five other states have already received the okay from EPA to run the program.
According to Elin Miller, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle, this would give the responsibility for water quality protection to the "front line" state managers and staff, with EPA retaining its federal monitoring and oversite role.
"We continue to work closely with ADEC as we move forward with this important delegation proposal," said EPA's Miller.
"With the protection of Alaska's pristine waters in the balance, it's critical that we build appropriate capacity in Alaska to implement a strong and defensible NPDES Program," said EPA's Miller. "A key part of this deal is Alaska's solid financial commitment to build a strong, robust water quality permitting program that protects both present and future generations of Alaskans."
If EPA grants Alaska the authority to implement the program, ADEC will write and issue NPDES permits and conduct compliance and enforcement for permits. Permits issued by EPA will continue to be in force until the State starts issuing permits.
Upon approval, Alaska will phase in implementation of the NPDES Program over three years. EPA will continue to write permits for those facilities that Alaska does not take on during this period. Alaska plans to phase-in the permit workload as follows:
According to Larry Hartig, Commissioner of ADEC, securing NPDES authority has been a long-sought goal of the Department.
"When Alaska became a state fifty years ago it was with the expectation and promise we would be full partners with the other states," said ADEC's Hartig.
"We should not be dependent on federal agencies thousands of miles away to run programs and make decisions that could and should be made by the state," said ADEC's Hartig. "Achieving NPDES primacy and implementing a strong program accountable to all Alaskans uphold this promise. We appreciate EPA's efforts in helping us reach this important goal."
EPA's role after Alaska's program is authorized:
EPA issued a notice in the Federal Register and Alaska newspapers on June 18, 2008, informing the public of the 60-day public comment period on Alaska's application. The public comment period began on June 18, 2008 and ends August 18, 2008. Public meetings were held in Fairbanks, Juneau and Anchorage on July 21, 22, 23.
The NPDES permit program, a key part of the federal Clean Water Act, controls water pollution by regulating sources that discharge pollutants to waters in the United States.
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