FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 22, 2005) - A bill designed to improve implementation of a federal permitting program and the resulting environmental quality protection was passed today by the Kentucky Senate.
The vote was 35-2. Senate Bill 175, sponsored by Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, now moves to the Kentucky House.
SB 175 authorizes the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC) to issue permits pursuant to Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act. 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, often criticized as complex and convoluted, is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But it can be delegated to states that meet requirements established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
"This is the first step in positioning Kentucky to provide leadership in regulating the actions that occur in our own state," EPPC Secretary LaJuana S. Wilcher said. "If we go forward, we have an opportunity to offer greater protections to Kentucky's aquatic environment while streamlining permitting procedures. It's a win-win."
If enacted, the legislation would be followed by months of public meetings for input on how best to achieve both goals - environmental protection and streamlined permitting. If it was determined that the program designed by the state was better than that administered by the Corps, Governor Ernie Fletcher would request the necessary authority from the EPA.