Bill Summary for S 729 (2013-2014)

Summary date: 

Jul 2 2014

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2013-2014 Session
Senate Bill 729 (Public) Filed Wednesday, May 14, 2014
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT TO (1) PROHIBIT RECOVERY OF COSTS RELATED TO UNLAWFUL DISCHARGES FROM COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS; (2) ESTABLISH A MORATORIUM ON CERTAIN RATE CASES; (3) CREATE THE COAL ASH MANAGEMENT COMMISSION TO REVIEW AND APPROVE COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS CLASSIFICATIONS AND CLOSURE PLANS AND OTHERWISE STUDY AND MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS ON LAWS GOVERNING MANAGEMENT OF COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS; (4) REQUIRE EXPEDITED REVIEW BY THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES OF ANY PERMIT NECESSARY TO CONDUCT ACTIVITIES REQUIRED BY THIS ACT; (5) ESTABLISH VARIOUS REPORTING REQUIREMENTS TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, INCLUDING A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES ON ITS OPERATIONS, ACTIVITIES, PROGRAMS, AND PROGRESS WITH RESPECT TO ITS OBLIGATIONS UNDER THIS ACT FOR COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS; (6) PROHIBIT LOCAL GOVERNMENT REGULATION OF MANAGEMENT OF COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS OR COAL COMBUSTION PRODUCTS; (7) PROHIBIT CONSTRUCTION OF NEW OR EXPANSION OF EXISTING COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 1, 2014; (8) PROHIBIT THE DISPOSAL OF COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS INTO COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS AT COAL-FIRED GENERATING UNITS THAT ARE NO LONGER PRODUCING COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 1, 2014; (9) PROHIBIT DISPOSAL OF STORMWATER TO COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 31, 2018; (10) REQUIRE ALL ELECTRIC GENERATING FACILITIES TO CONVERT TO GENERATION OF DRY FLY ASH ON OR BEFORE DECEMBER 31, 2017, AND DRY BOTTOM ASH ON OR BEFORE DECEMBER 31, 2020, OR RETIRE; (11) REQUIRE THE ASSESSMENT OF GROUNDWATER AT COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS; (12) REQUIRE CORRECTIVE ACTION FOR THE RESTORATION OF GROUNDWATER QUALITY AT COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS; (13) REQUIRE A SURVEY OF DRINKING WATER SUPPLY WELLS AND REPLACEMENT OF CONTAMINATED WATER SUPPLIES; (14) REQUIRE THE IDENTIFICATION, ASSESSMENT, AND CORRECTION OF UNPERMITTED DISCHARGES FROM COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS; (15) REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES TO, AS SOON AS PRACTICABLE, BUT NO LATER THAN DECEMBER 31, 2015, PRIORITIZE FOR THE PURPOSE OF CLOSURE AND REMEDIATION COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS, INCLUDING ACTIVE AND RETIRED SITES, BASED ON THESE SITES' RISKS TO PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, AND WELFARE, THE ENVIRONMENT, AND NATURAL RESOURCES; (16) REQUIRE OWNERS OF COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS TO SUBMIT A PROPOSED PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF ALL IMPOUNDMENTS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES; (17) REQUIRE CLOSURE AND REMEDIATION OF CERTAIN COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS AS SOON AS PRACTICABLE, BUT NO LATER THAN AUGUST 1, 2019; (18) REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES TO ESTABLISH A SCHEDULE AND PROCESS FOR CLOSURE AND REMEDIATION OF ALL COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS BASED UPON THE DEPARTMENT'S RISK ASSESSMENT OF THESE SITES, BASELINE REQUIREMENTS SET BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, EVALUATION OF PROPOSED CLOSURE PLANS SUBMITTED BY IMPOUNDMENT OWNERS, AND INPUT FROM THE PUBLIC AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS; (19) ESTABLISH MINIMUM STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS FOR STRUCTURAL FILL PROJECTS USING COAL COMBUSTION PRODUCTS AND REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES TO INVENTORY AND INSPECT CERTAIN STRUCTURAL FILL PROJECTS; (20) PLACE A MORATORIUM ON CERTAIN PROJECTS USING COAL COMBUSTION PRODUCTS AS STRUCTURAL FILL UNTIL AUGUST 1, 2015, AND DIRECT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT COMMISSION TO STUDY THE ADEQUACY OF CURRENT LAW GOVERNING USE OF COAL COMBUSTION PRODUCTS AS STRUCTURAL FILL AND FOR BENEFICIAL USE; (21) PLACE A MORATORIUM ON THE EXPANSION AND CONSTRUCTION OF COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS LANDFILLS UNTIL AUGUST 1, 2015, AND DIRECT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES TO ASSESS THE RISKS TO PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, AND WELFARE, THE ENVIRONMENT, AND NATURAL RESOURCES OF COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS LOCATED BENEATH THESE LANDFILLS TO DETERMINE THE ADVISABILITY OF CONTINUED OPERATION OF THESE LANDFILLS; (22) STRENGTHEN THE REPORTING AND NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO DISCHARGES OF WASTEWATER TO WATERS OF THE STATE; (23) REQUIRE CERTAIN EMERGENCY CALLS TO BE RECORDED; (24) REQUIRE DEVELOPMENT OF EMERGENCY ACTION PLANS FOR HIGH AND INTERMEDIATE HAZARD DAMS AND AMEND OTHER DAM SAFETY LAW REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS SURFACE IMPOUNDMENTS; (25) TRANSFER SOLID WASTE RULE-MAKING AUTHORITY FROM COMMISSION FOR PUBLIC HEALTH TO ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT COMMISSION; (26) AMEND COMPLIANCE BOUNDARY PROVISIONS; (27) PROVIDE FOR VARIOUS STUDIES; (28) REQUIRE THE STATE CONSTRUCTION OFFICE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO DEVELOP TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS FOR USE OF COAL COMBUSTION PRODUCTS; AND (29) PROVIDE RESOURCES FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS ACT.
Intro. by Apodaca, Berger.

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Bill summary

House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 3rd edition:

Changes the long title.

Extends the prohibition/moratorium on the Utilities Commission granting an increase in base rates of an electric public utility for costs related to coal combustion residuals surface impoundments (impoundments) to December 31, 2016 (was, January 15, 2015).

Amends proposed GS 130A-309.202, concerning the Coal Ash Management Commission (Commission), providing changes to specified appointees to the Commission, including requiring one member appointed by the General Assembly and recommended by the the Speaker of the House to have special training or scientific expertise in waste management, including solid waste disposal, hauling, or beneficial use (previously, required the member to be actively employed by, or recently retired from, an industrial manufacturing facility). Requires one member appointed by the Governor to be actively employed by, or recently retired from, an industrial manufacturing facility (previously, required the member to be a representative of an electric membership corporation pursuant to GS 117, Article 2) or be a representative of an electric membership corporation. Amends proposed language concerning the appointment of the Commission Chair, now providing that the Governor will appoint the Chair from among the Commission's members and that person will serve at the pleasure of the Governor, serving two-year terms (previously, the Commission was to have a Chair and Vice-Chair, selected by the Commission members to serve two-year terms). Provides that the Commission will be administratively located in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) (previously, the Commission was located in the Division of Emergency Management of the Department of Public Safety). 

Amends proposed GS 130A-309.205, concerning local ordinances that regulate coal ash combustion residuals and products, clarifying that the prohibition and invalidation of local ordinances, zoning regulations, and so forth that regulate or have the effect of regulating the management of coal combustion residuals and coal combustion products within the local government's jurisdiction also include any restrictions or conditions applied to facilities that primarily engage in processes to prepare coal ash for beneficial use, such as carbon burn-out plants.

Amends proposed GS 130A-309.208, changing the deadline for the construction of new or the expansion of existing impoundments to August 1, 2014 (was, July 1, 2014).  

Amends proposed GS 130A-309.209, providing that owners of an impoundment have 90 days after the submittal of the Groundwater Assessment Report or a time-frame otherwise approved by DENR to submit a proposed Groundwater Corrective Action Plan to DENR for its review and approval (the previous edition did not provide for an alternate time-frame approved by DENR). Requires the owner of an impoundment to, in the event that groundwater quality standards are exceeded for water from a drinking water supply well and attributable to the presence of the impoundment, provide potable drinking water within 24 hours of such a determination (previously, was within 30 days). Also requires the owner to provide an alternate supply of water that is safe for other household uses within 30 days of such a determination. Makes conforming changes.

Amends proposed GS 130A-309.215, 130A-309.216, and 130A-309.217, lowering the threshold for requirement applicability for large structural fill projects to 8,000 or more tons of coal combustion products per acre or 80,000 or more tons of coal combustion products in total per project (previously, threshold for the specified requirements to apply to a structural fill project was 10,000 or more tons of coal combustion products per acre or 100,000 or more tons of coal combustion products in total per project). 

Amends proposed GS 130A-309.212, concerning the closure of impoundments, providing that low-risk impoundments are required to comply with the specified closure and post-closure requirements of the NC Administrative Code (Code), except that low-risk impoundments are not required to install and maintain a leachate collection system (previously, required low-risk impoundments to install a leachate system).  Makes conforming changes. Corrects a reference to the Code, now referencing Section .1205 of Subchapter T of Chapter 2 of Title 15A of the Code (was, Section .1200).

Enacts new GS 130A-309.213, Variance authority, allowing the Secretary of DENR to grant a variance to any deadline for the closure of an impoundment pursuant to proposed GS 130A-309.212. Requires the owner of an impoundment to submit an application to DENR with the following required information; (1) identification of the site, (2) applicable requirements and applicable deadlines for which the variance is sought, and (3) detailed information as to why compliance with the deadline cannot be achieved by application of the best available technology found to be economically reasonable at the time and would produce serious hardship without equal or greater benefits to the public. Directs the Secretary of DENR, as soon as practicable, but no later than 60 days from receipt of such an application, to evaluate the application and information submitted to determine whether such information warrants the issuance of a variance.  Within 10 days of issuing a variance the Secretary of DENR must issue a written declaration of the variance that includes findings of fact. Provides for public participation on the proposed variance as provided in GS 130A-309.212(b). Provides for an appeal process for the parties aggrieved, as provided for in GS Chapter 10B, Article 3. 

Makes conforming changes, renumbering proposed sections.

Amends GS 130A-309.216, concerning design and siting requirements for projects using coal combustion products for structural fill, providing that such products, when used as a structural fill, should not be placed within 30 feet of a bedrock outcrop (was, 25 feet). 

Amends proposed GS 130A-309.221, concerning inventory and inspection of structural fill projects, making technical changes to Code citations and adding that the specified structural fill projects will also be inspected to ensure compliance with Section .1200 of Subchapter T of Chapter 2 of Title 15A of the Code. 

Makes technical changes in Part III of the act concerning statutory and Code references.

Amends proposed GS 143-215.27A, concerning closure of impoundments to render such facilities exempt from NC Dam Safety Law, providing that the requirement that the decommissioning request include a statement that the impoundment facility has not received sluiced coal residuals for at least three years can be waived by the Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources if proper evidence is presented by a NC registered professional engineer that the impounded material is not subject to liquid flow behavior. 

Amends GS 143-215.1, concerning the control of sources of water pollution and corrective action required if groundwater standards are exceeded, providing that when operation of a permitted disposal system results in exceedances of the groundwater quality standards at or beyond the compliance boundary, the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) must require a permittee to undertake corrective action, regardless of when the system was first permitted, to restore groundwater quality. Sets out factors to be considered in developing a corrective action plan and schedule, including the extent of the violation of the standards. Directs the permittee to implement the plan and schedule as approved by the EMC Director or designee. 

Directs DENR to review and make recommendations on all the deadlines established under Part 2I of Article 9 and report its findings to the Environmental Review Commission no later than December 1, 2014. 

Deletes language that provided for the creation and funding of 25 positions in DENR to carry out management duties of coal combustion residuals and coal combustion products.  Also deletes language that provided for the creation and funding of 5 positions to provide support for the Coal Ash Management Commission. 

Amends proposed GS 143-58.6, concerning the use of coal combustion products to add that it is the goal of the Department of Administration and the Department of Transportation to increase the usage and consumption of coal combustion products in their respective construction projects. 

 

 

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