Troubling environmental permit fee bill amended in Committee

February 2, 2021

Concerning and potentially very expensive legislation dealing with environmental permit fees has been favorably amended in Committee.

As introduced, SB 1210 (Petersen) 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 the bill as well VACo’s 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, there were concerns about the increased costs the bill will generate for local governments, either as the owner of these facilities or as partners in a host agreement with private operators.

Ultimately, Senator Chap Petersen agreed to amend his legislation, opting to simply to form a workgroup comprised of local government representatives, industry representatives, environmental representatives, and Administration representatives to further study the issue and report findings and recommendations to the legislature.  This workgroup will meet after the conclusion of the General Assembly session.

As amended, SB 1210 reported out of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, 15-0, and was rereferred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, where it awaits a hearing.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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