BOSTON, Ky. - A work group to study how the state could issue environmental permits under the federal Clean Water Act Section 404 program was announced today by LaJuana S. Wilcher, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC). Section 404 regulates activities that result in a discharge of rock, soil, concrete or other fill material in waters of the United States.
The program, often criticized as complex and convoluted, is currently administered in Kentucky by four U.S. Army Corps of Engineers districts: Louisville, Ky., Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., and Huntington, W.Va. The program can be delegated to states that meet requirements established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“These regulations, more than any I have worked with, directly address development and environmental protection,” Wilcher said. “I am hopeful that this group of experts and affected parties can work together to craft a regulatory program that does the best job possible of accommodating one without diminishing the other.”
The work group will determine whether a state regulatory program can be created that will streamline the permitting process, improve environmental protection and mitigation practices and offer comparable environmental protection to the federal program.
The 2005 General Assembly passed Senate Bill 175, which authorized EPPC to issue permits pursuant to Section 404. The creation of the work group is the second step in the process and will involve months of public meetings for input on achieving environmental protection and streamlined permitting.
If it is determined a state-designed program is better than the Corps program, Governor Ernie Fletcher will request authority from EPA to implement state regulations.
The members of the panel are: Sen. Robert Stivers; Rep. Robin Webb; Judge-Executive Rodney Kirtley, Muhlenburg County; Mayor David Cartmell, Maysville; Tom FitzGerald, Kentucky Resources Council; Robert Addington, Appalachian Fuels; Don Bowles, Charolais Coal; Laura Knoth, Kentucky Farm Bureau; Tandy Patrick, Greenbaum, Doll and McDonald attorneys; Bob Weiss, Kentucky Home Builders Association; George Anthansakes, Fuller Mossbarger Scott and May engineers; Susan Bush, commissioner of the Department for Natural Resources; Lloyd Cress, commissioner of the Department for Environmental Protection; Steve Coleman, director of the Division of Conservation; John Horne, EPPC; David Jones, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet deputy state highway engineer, and Wilcher.
Additional appointments to the panel are possible.