More environmental bills introduced

With the Alabama State Legislature now one-third the way through its regular session, more environmentally related legislation is being considered.

For years, citizens around the state have sought some sort of local control over the siting and operation of granite and limestone quarries in Alabama. Currently, a quarry operation needs to get a permit from the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations and air and water permits from the ADEM. No local or county input is required, but local residents are the most impacted by quarry operations.

HB547 would change that. Introduced by Reps. Jeff McLaughlin, Butch Taylor, Elwyn Thomas, and Barry Mask, this bill would provide for a process that gives local governments some say in how and where a quarry would operate. HB547 is assigned to the House commerce committee.

HB547 is similar to HB36/SB96, which would give local governments a greater say over landfill siting and operations. Such a bill passed several years ago, but included the provision that if the local government didn’t take action within a certain timeframe on the landfill application, it would automatically be approved. HB36/SB96 seeks to reverse that – denying a landfill permit if the local government hasn’t taken action within 180 days.

Another environmental bill introduced last week is HB511, introduced by Rep. Pat Todd. Currently, one member of the Alabama Environmental Management Commission, the board that oversees ADEM, must have been certified by the National Water Well Association. The problem is, there are only a handful of Alabamians who qualify for this position on the seven member ADEM board.

HB511 simply expands the qualifications for this position to include professionally certified geologists and hydrologists. This bill has been assigned to the House boards and commissions committee.

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