Regional Air Quality Pact May Trump Public Input
A troubling trend in the development of state air quality regulations is that much of the decision-making is taking place far from Connecticut with little or no public input, under the direction of an organization known as the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC).
Located in Washington , D.C. , the OTC is composed of regulatory officials from 12 Northeast states plus the District of Columbia who meet periodically to advise the Environmental Protection Agency “on transport issues and for developing and implementing regional solutions to the ground-level ozone problem in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.”
Generally, CBIA supports regional and national efforts that can help Connecticut , or any other state for that matter, avoid finding itself less competitive because of having more stringent state requirements than its neighbors.
However, state regulators are negotiating and drafting specific standards that become binding on each of the individual OTC-member states when their state's environmental commissioners sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
OTC members then return home to advance the adoption of individual state regulations that may already be largely determined by the terms of the regional MOU – even to the point where public input at the state level can become essentially moot.
For example, on Sept. 2, the OTC posted a set of potential regulatory changes on its website that would have costly impacts on thousands of Connecticut businesses and facilities. With no formal distribution, public notice or public comment period in Connecticut , the OTC will move forward with finalizing a MOU between its member states that will effectively bind those states to the regulatory changes contained in the MOU.
Each state will then follow its legally mandated procedures for adopting regulations to implement the terms of the MOU. But committing to the MOU can make the state's required formal public hearing and comment process just a formality—at least with respect to specific standards referenced in the MOU. Signing on to adopting specific regulatory provisions gives the OTC-member states little if any flexibility to make changes to the state regulations in response to public comment.
CBIA believes this is a flawed process for adopting state regulations with potential legal implications. The association hopes to work with the OTC, the Department of Environmental Protection, the legislature and other state officials to ensure Connecticut's air quality regulations are well vetted by all interested stakeholders prior to any formal commitment on the part of the state through the OTC process.
For more information about the OTC, visit www.otcair.org . See the OTC proposal reference in this article at http://www.otcair.org/document.asp?fview=meeting# and clicking on “ Materials Stationary and Area Source – Potential Rule Guidelines.” CBIA's comment letter to the OTC regarding this document is available here. Other questions can be directed to Eric Brown at 860-244-1926 or email@example.com.
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