OLR Bill Analysis

HB 5381 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING REGULATORY AUTHORITY FOR WASTEWATER PERMITTING PROGRAMS.

SUMMARY:

This bill adds waste conversion facilities to the existing definition of volume reduction plants, which are places or facilities used to reduce solid waste at a rate of at least 2,000 pounds per hour. By law, a volume reduction plant is one type of solid waste facility, all of which must be permitted by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Under the bill, a “waste conversion facility” converts solid waste into electricity, fuel, gas, chemicals, or other products through thermal, chemical, or biological processes, but it is not a resources recovery facility. Corresponding to the new definition, the bill limits resources recovery facilities (which are also a type of volume reduction plant) to facilities combusting mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) to generate electricity, rather than using any process to reclaim energy from MSW.

The bill reduces the amount of information a resources recovery facility or MSW composting facility (i.e., a facility that recovers organic material) applying for a DEEP permit must provide as part of the DEEP commissioner's review of the need for the facility. The review is commonly referred to as a “determination of need.” By limiting the definition of resources recovery facility, the bill excludes waste conversion facilities from this need determination.

It also allows, rather than requires, the DEEP commissioner to adopt regulations exempting categories of wastewater discharge from the requirement that certain plans and specifications be submitted with discharge permit applications.

Lastly, the bill makes a technical correction to the inland wetlands law.

*House Amendment “A” adds the provisions on waste conversion facilities, the information resources recovery or MSW composting facilities must provide when applying for a permit, and the technical change to the inland wetlands law.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016, except the regulations provision and technical correction are effective upon passage.

DEEP DETERMINATION OF NEED

Existing law prohibits the DEEP commissioner from issuing a permit to construct or expand certain waste facilities or disposal areas unless he determines that they are needed to meet the state's solid waste disposal needs and will not result in substantial excess capacity. The bill specifies that the capacity targets are those provided in the state's solid waste management plan (see BACKGROUND).

The bill eliminates requirements that a resources recovery facility or mixed MSW composting facility must provide the following information for the need determination review:

1. the estimated amount of mixed MSW (a) generated by and received from each municipality and other customers that will send waste to the facility and (b) that are designated recyclables for recycling;

2. the estimated change in the amount of mixed MSW generated due to population growth, waste reduction, source reduction, and industrial and commercial development over the facility's design life; and

3. a demonstration that the facility's throughput capacity (i.e., how much it can process), combined with the capacity of other permitted facilities, will not exceed the total capacity needed to process the state's waste.

Existing law, unchanged by the bill, requires the facilities to provide information about design capacity, planned operating rate and throughput, technical feasibility, capability to complete the project, reserve capacity, and contingencies for facility use.

WASTEWATER DISCHARGE

Current law requires the DEEP commissioner to adopt regulations exempting categories of wastewater discharge, beyond those the law already allows the commissioner to exempt, from the requirement that certain plans and specifications be submitted with permit applications. The bill instead makes adopting these regulations discretionary.

By law, the commissioner may already exempt discharges that:

1. come from a new system that is substantially the same as the current one, if the current one is complying with a DEEP permit;

2. are described in a general permit;

3. come from a system the commissioner determines is not designed to treat toxic or hazardous substances; or

4. he determines are unlikely to cause substantial pollution and therefore exempt from public notice before acting on an application.

Current law requires the regulations to be adopted by February 1, 2015, but none have been adopted. These regulations may (1) set minimum standards for designing and operating a discharge treatment system and (2) impose reporting requirements.

BACKGROUND

Municipal Solid Waste

By law, MSW is solid waste from residential, commercial, and industrial sources, but not waste that has significant amounts of hazardous or biomedical waste, land-clearing or demolition debris, sewage sludge, and scrap metal (CGS 22a-207(23)).

Solid Waste Management Plan

The DEEP commissioner is currently revising the state's solid waste management plan to include a strategy for diverting, through source reduction, reuse, and recycling, at least 60% of solid waste generated in Connecticut by January 1, 2024. The law requires the revision to be completed by July 1, 2016 (CGS 22a-241a).

Related Bill

sHB 5385 (File 346), reported favorably by the Environment Committee, contains identical provisions concerning waste conversion facilities and the information resources recovery or MSW composing facilities must submit to DEEP as part of their permitting process.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

29

Nay

0

(03/11/2016)