Environmental permit fee study groups bill passes House and Senate

February 18, 2021

SB 1210 (Petersen), which directs the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to convene working groups to study annual fee schedules for nonhazardous solid waste management facilities and annual maintenance fees for certain water withdrawal permits, has now passed the House and Senate.

As initially introduced, SB 1210 directed the Virginia Waste Management Board to adopt regulations to collect from any person operating certain facilities permitted for the disposal, storage, or treatment of nonhazardous solid waste such annual fees as are necessary to provide funding for the total direct costs of the nonhazardous solid waste management program when aggregated and combined with other existing fees. The bill also directed the State Water Control Board to adopt regulations specifying permit maintenance fees that each permitted facility shall pay to the Board for certain water quality or withdrawal permits. SB 1210 required the fee amounts to be set at an amount that is necessary to collect no less than 40 percent and no greater than 50 percent of the direct costs required for the administration, compliance, and enforcement of such permits.

VACo opposed this legislation as introduced, due to concerns about the fiscal impact of this legislation as well as our long held position opposing the imposition of a state fee, tax, or surcharge on water, sewer, solid waste, or any other service provided by a local government or authority.  Notably, VACo raised significant concerns about the increased costs this bill will generate for local governments, either as the owners of these facilities or as partners in a host agreement with private operators.

Ultimately, Senator Chap Petersen agreed to amend this legislation, opting to simply form a working group comprised of local government representatives, industry representatives, environmental representatives, and Administration representatives.  The working groups shall meet after the conclusion of the General Assembly session and will study the annual fee schedules for nonhazardous solid waste management facilities and the annual maintenance fees for certain water withdrawal permits.  The working groups will be tasked with developing recommendations for future fees.

VACo will continue to closely monitor this issue and will keep members updated accordingly.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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