FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 17, 2005) - A bill aimed at improving the implementation of a federal permitting program and the resulting environmental quality protection was approved by a state Senate committee today. Senate Bill 175 now moves to the floor after its passage by the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, authorizes the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC) to issue permits pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act Section 404 program. Section 404 regulates activities that result in a discharge of rock, soil, concrete or other fill material in waters of the United States. The permit program is currently under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but may be delegated to states that meet certain requirements established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
"The current permitting process is complex and convoluted. We want to explore opportunities to streamline the process while improving environmental protection," said LaJuana S. Wilcher, secretary of the EPPC. "Four Corps districts currently issue 404 permits in Kentucky and centralizing the process should improve consistency and accountability with a state program."
If SB 175 is approved by the General Assembly, Wilcher said, the cabinet would initiate a public process to create administrative regulations for the program. Governor Ernie Fletcher would then have to request, and receive, approval from the EPA before the state could assume the 404 program.