AGC/VT Monitors and Contributes to DEC Rulemaking
Friday, September 10, 2021
by: Matt Musgrave

Section: Legislative Update

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AGC/VT and VIECA are closely monitoring two different rule making processes that the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation has begun. Its normal for the department to make "technical corrections" to policy to align with Federal rules and its also normal that the department brings existing rules to current or updated state standards often triggered by legislative action. Part of the program prior to presenting the rule changes to Government panels for approval they begin a stakeholder process of input to find any unintended consequences or better policy. This year we are surprised the phone didn't ring but thankfully your lobbying team is monitoring the situation and stepped into some processes.

In August we learned that a technical correction to Vermonts Hazardous Waste rules were in process. For the most part the 150 pages of rule were just simple technical corrections changing nomenclature or aligning with Federal standards. One new rule stuck out which could potentially impact how oily water is disposed of. Currently Vermont follows the Federal rule that simply states that any amount of waste oil in water makes the solution recycled oil. There is a process by which the oil and water solution is separated and the oil is burned or recycled which many members participate in already. The department reacting to one incident where an oil recycler reported hazardous was was included in oily water, but was dealt with appropriately, decided to change the Vermont standard despite the Federal standard remaining the same. 

The new standard being proposed by DEC would be that if there was less than 50% oil in the water solution and there is a possibility that a hazardous material is included such as lead or arsenic they would be handled as hazardous waste, rather than recycled oil. This is a massive change to policy and the department did not consider many unintended consequences. For one, the cost of disposing of the recycled oil versus hazardous was is 7-1 one which would increase costs considerably. The other was that there are only two facilities in the country (Ohio and Texas) that have the capacity to dispose of such material. The costs increases are tied to the transportation but since the state really is unsure how much material would fall into the program its impossible to estimate the ability to run the program at all. The team got involved with the Hazardous Wasted Division and have asked that the particular rule related to the oily water is removed from this rule approval process so that a group of stakeholders can work with the division to identify and deal with any unintended consequences. The agency has been cooperating so far and we expect to meet soon.

The second change that we just learned of is a sweeping rule change to the wetlands program which has been in process but delayed for years. Your lobbying team attended a stakeholder meeting last week where they saw the most recent recommendations and heard objections and support from the group. What was alarming was that with the exception of your lobbing team there were only two other business groups on the call with the remainder being environmental water advocates. This lopsided approach to rulemaking has caused some concern to your association. We addressed this head on, and have been working with the Agency of Natural Resources and DEC to amend portions of the program so as to not interfere with construction projects. The work in progress will continue and your lobbying team is continuing to advocate for Vermont contractors.

We are in the process of scheduling our 2022 Government Affairs Committee plan for when the legislature returns in January. If you are interested in joining the committee please contact matt.