EPA Proposed Regulation on Dental Amalgam Separation Could Cause Burden on Local Treatment Systems

The Environmental Protection Agency is having an open comment period until December 22nd, to allow individuals and organizations to respond to proposed new regulation of discharge of dental amalgam into publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) as part of the Clean Water Act. The regulation would classify dentists as an “industrial user” under part 23, which would require additional pretreatment measures that could be burdensome to locals due to the increased oversight requirements in this category. Michigan already has an amalgam separation law on the books, but this new provision would place dentists into a category (industrial user) that the DEQ does not have authorization over in order to modify the federal requirement to better align with the existing state law. If you would like to read about this issue further and/or submit comments, click here.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

EPA Extends Deadline to Submit Comments on Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency has extended the deadline to submit comments on the proposed plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for existing power plants to December 1st, from October 16th.

Click here to access additional information on the proposal and to submit comments.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Webinar This Thursday on EPA’s proposed rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under Clean Air Act

This Thursday, September 18th from 1-2 pm the State and Local Legal Center will be hosting a webinar on the legal issues raised by EPA’s proposed rule to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. This webinar will be particularly helpful to those who are in the process of drafting comments, which are due on Oct. 16. There is no pre-registration for the webinar; simply click here at the appropriate time and sign in as a guest.

EPA has invited comment on a number of issues that may have legal implications for states. Given the compliance obligations this rule will create for states, the National Governors Association has worked with the SLLC to develop a presentation that will provide states with an opportunity to explore topics that will most directly affect them. Some of these topics will be addressed in the webinar and include:

o   State-level considerations for regional compliance and a legal roadmap for how states could join together to develop a regional consortium to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

o   Whether states can legally adopt multiple approaches to reducing carbon emissions, including approaches that are rate based, mass based, market based, or some combination of those three.

o   The authority for states to implement approaches outside of reductions at individual power plants (regardless of the legal interpretation at the federal level), or whether states need internal authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through other measures like regional agreements or the implementation of energy efficiency measures through 111(d).

o   The ability of states to adjust the specific percentage by which they must reduce their carbon emissions by 2030.

Roger Martella,, a former General Counsel for the EPA and current partner with the law firm of Sidley Austin, will lead the discussion and answer questions.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Senate Takes Testimony on Provisions of Certain Utility Service Contracts

Senate Local Government Committee took testimony yesterday on SB 687 sponsored by Senator Darwin Booher (R-Evart). This bill would regulate the provision of utility services (water, sanitary sewers, wastewater treatment, or electricity) provided by certain municipalities to other municipalities. It would prohibit a municipality providing utility service to another municipality from terminating the service, or refusing to renew the existing contract for the service, for any reason other than a lack of physical ability to continue providing that service.

This bill was introduced because of a situation in Senator Booher’s district involving the City of Cadillac and 4 surrounding townships. Cadillac City Manager Marcus Peccia did a terrific job testifying on behalf of the League. He expressed not only the concerns of Cadillac and their specific situation, but also the statewide implications this legislation could have.

The main concerns about this legislation include that it effectively voids any end date or termination clause in a contract our communities may have with a surrounding municipality because this bill would not allow that contract to be terminated and offers guaranteed renewal. Voiding a contracts expiration date does not promote good faith negotiations between parties. Rather, it provides an incentive for the non-providing community not to accept terms of a new contract that may include a higher rate for service because service must continue. Finally, this bill would have a significant impact on future collaboration efforts between communities because of the lack of certainty that would happen at the end of an expiring contract.

The League is opposed to this legislation and is very concerned about the impact of this legislation statewide.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation and infrastructure issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

6th Annual Michigan Utility Cordination Conference

Key elements in utility coordination are “communication, coordination, and cooperation.” The 6th Annual Michigan Utility Coordination Conference (MUCC) will have participants interactivity communicating with conference presenters. Please consider reserving your calendar for Wednesday, January 22, 2014 and plan on attending what is set up to be the best MUCC yet. The following is a link to the agenda and registration form. MUCC14form

The Michigan Municipal League will be moderating an interactive session that will focus on water and sanitary sewer systems. The session will include representatives from Midland, Novi, and Grand Rapids.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation and infrastructure issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

SAW Grant Application Now Available

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has released the finalized application for SAW Grants. A link to the application can be found here. We encourage each community to carefully consider applying for the grants and to keep a few things in mind while doing so. Consider the implication it may have on your ability to negotiate the terms and conditions of future permits, consider how accepting the grant could affect your flexibility in maintaining your systems in the future, and the short term and long term affect it could have on your community and the services it provides.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation and infrastructure issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Drainage District Legislation Voted Out of House Local Government Committee

With the support of the Michigan Municipal League HB 4622 was pass out of House Local Government Committee without opposition today. This legislation would set an additional process to review changes to drainage district boundaries that would not utilize the board of determination.

The League advocated for, and received, language that would require the use of the new review process or the use of a board of determination for any change, large or small, to the boundaries of a drainage district. Under the new process notice must be provided to each of the municipalities within the changing drainage district, notification must be publish in the newspaper that a revision and review of the boundary will be taking place, and any change in the boundary must be supported by substantial, material, and competent evidence.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation and infrastructure issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Scrap Tire Grants Available Through DEQ

The Department of Environmental Quality announced the availability of grant applications for the fiscal year 2014 Scrap Tire Market Development Program and the Scrap Tire Cleanup Program.

The Scrap Tire Market Development Program Grants are available to reimburse up to 50 percent of the cost of purchasing scrap tires to support the development of increased markets for scrap tires. Grants are also available to reimburse up to 50 percent of the cost of purchasing equipment and/or for research and development to provide for a new or increased use for scrap tires. More information can be found here.

FY14 Market Development PRESS RELEASE

The Scrap Tire Cleanup Grant Program is available to property owners with abandon scrap tires or scrap tires at collection sites. The DEQ will give priority to funding activities at collection sites where the scrap tires were accumulated prior to January 1, 1991, and collection sites that pose an imminent threat to public health, safety, welfare, or the environment. More information can be found here.

FY14 Cleanup Grant PRESS RELEASE

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation and infrastructure issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@ml.org or 517-908-0303.

 

DEQ to Offer Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) Grant Seminars

The DEQ is now offering grants for stormwater and wastewater asset management plan development, stormwater management plan development, sewage collection and treatment plan development, and state funded loans to construct projects identified in an asset management plan or stromwater management plan.

The purpose of this seminar is to provide information and tools to understand the new SAW eligibility, guidance, and assistance on the application process. The seminar has been designed to provide relevant and timely information to municipal officials, drain commission offices, municipal supervisors, managers, operators, and consulting engineers.

Seminar date are September 17th, 19th, 24th, and 26th. For registration information and location details please click here.

For frequently asked question please visit: FAQ. For general information about SAW grants please visit: SAW Grants

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation and infrastructure issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Amendments Go to Governor

The Legislature has passed and sent SB 1210 and SB 1328 to the Governor for his signature. These bills makes a number of changes to Brownfield Refinancing and NREPA Parts 147, 196, 201, and 213 . The League indicated support for this legislation. One of the major changes that it makes to the Act is to eliminate the sunset on the TIF portion of the Brownfield program, which is necessary to keep this program viable and a great economic development and jobs tool for communities.

Other items in the Act that the bill deals with include:
—    Delete the December 31, 2012, deadline for approval of a work plan.
—    Create the “State Brownfield Redevelopment Fund” to support a grant and loan program that would fund the costs of eligible activities on eligible property, deposits into the Clean Michigan Initiative Bond Fund, and administrative costs.
—    Require a brownfield authority to pay to the Department of Treasury an amount equal to three mills of the taxes levied under the State Education Tax that were captured under the brownfield plan, for deposit into the proposed Fund.
—    Allow an authority to seek approval of a “combined brownfield plan” instead of a work plan.
—    Allow the chairperson of the Michigan Strategic Fund to approve projects totaling $500,000 or less.
—    Allow an authority to use revenue captured from school operating taxes for certain environmental assessment activities before a brownfield plan was approved.
—    Make additional exceptions to brownfield plan preapproval requirements for certain unanticipated response activities, and for eligible activities subsequently included in an approved plan.
—    Allow an increase in the amount of local tax increment revenue an authority may use for administrative and operating expenses and preliminary environmental activities before approval of a brownfield plan, for authorities with 31 or more active projects and in situations involving collaborative agreements.
—    Discontinue requirements that an authority reimburse the MSF or the DEQ for the cost of reviewing a work plan.
—    Include historic resources in the Act’s definitions of “eligible property” and “eligible activities”.
—    Expand the definition of “infrastructure improvements”, allowing the use of tax increment revenue for additional types of projects.
—    Delete requirements that notice of certain public hearings be published in a newspaper.
—    Delete a requirement for work plan approval before an authority may spend money in a local site remediation revolving fund that is derived from school operating taxes.
—    Require authorities’ annual financial reports to include additional information; require the MSF and the DEQ to submit a joint annual report to the Legislature; and otherwise revise reporting requirements.
—    Allow a brownfield plan to be abolished or terminated if a project failed to occur for five years after its approval, and make other changes concerning the abolishment or termination of a plan.
–    The Part 196 amendment changes the CMI Brownfield funding to totals of $50 million available for grants and $25 million available for loans (it was $37.5 and $37.5), and eliminates the full faith and credit requirement for CMI Brownfield Redevelopment Loans. The League will continue to work with the Legislature and MEDC to ensure that the Brownfield Redevelopment Act is the most efficient tool for locals to help redevelop and revitalize properties to create jobs and great communities.

Nikki Brown is Legislative Associate for the League handling economic development issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.