The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today held another in a series of stakeholder meetings to discuss permit fee and emission fee increases. Previous stakeholder meetings were held April 24, May 19, and June 16 on the same subject and the stakeholders participating in those meetings had recommended fee increases for both permits and emissions fees.
DNR says the fee increases are necessary to keep the air pollution compliance program funded. The original proposed fee increases as recommended by stakeholders participating in the previous meetings would have boosted the emission fees from the current level of $40 per ton to $44 per ton in June 2016 and $53 per ton in June 2017. Stakeholders participating in the meetings also recommended increases in the biennial air pollution operating permit filing fees for basic permits from the current $100 to $500 and for “Intermediate” and “P70” permits from the current $100 to $6,000.
While the participating stakeholders were comfortable with the recommended fee increases, the DNR pulled the permit fee increases from consideration and today’s meeting focused on increases in emission fees. There was resistance expressed after the last stakeholder meeting to increasing the permit fees, at least in the amounts that were suggested, and it was determined by DNR and others in state government that additional conversation was necessary regarding those fee increases. Because of the long time-line necessary to enact the fee increases, any delay in the process would mean the fee increases could not be implemented until 2017, so the DNR decided to hold additional stakeholder meetings on those operating permit filing fee increases. In a meeting with DNR personnel earlier in the week, after learning the DNR had removed the permit fee increase from immediate consideration, we suggested inviting all affected permit holders to the stakeholder meetings so their voices could be heard and an amount that is agreeable to all stakeholders that want to participate in the process could be reached.
In today’s meeting, DNR suggested another way to keep the air pollution control program funded would be to increase the emissions fees. After discussion, the stakeholders in the meeting and DNR decided to circulate for further discussion a proposed $48 per ton fee that would be effective January 2016 and would not increase again unless and until stakeholders recommended an additional increase. This idea will be circulated to affected stakeholders by the DNR over the next week in advance of another stakeholder meeting and Air Conservation Commission meeting August 28.
For more thorough discussion, AIM members should register for our Environmental Committee webinar, this morning, on Friday, August 22, at 10:00 a.m. by clicking here.