The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Water said it submitted a revised application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Oct. 15 for authority to permit wastewater discharges in Alaska in lieu of EPA’s Seattle-based permitting program.
The Alaska Legislature approved a measure in 2005 that authorized DEC to seek primacy in issuing the permits in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program under provisions of the Clean Water Act.
DEC submitted an initial application in June 2006. Revisions in the most recent draft reflect comments from the federal agency, state officials say.
EPA officials are scheduled to review the revised application for completeness by January 2008, and DEC has targeted May 2008 to submit a final NPDES application.
Alaska’s resource industries, meanwhile, have voiced support for the state to take over issuing NPDES permits, saying it will remove uncertainty from the regulatory process and provide much-needed balance.
However, environmental groups say granting the state control of NPDES permitting will chip away at environmental protections.
The transfer of authority to DEC would, in effect, give the agency control over where priorities are set in granting NPDES permits, but the standards for permitting must be as rigorous as those used by the EPA or more so, according to officials of both agencies.
Alaska was one of only five states that did not have this authority at the end of fiscal 2007.