MTBMA Legislative Counsel Barbara Wilkins writes:
As you know, the legal standing bill has been totally revised and is now introduced as HB 1569. Adopts federal standing rules for individuals and associations to challenge specific permits (air quality, landfills, water discharge, sewage sludge, controlled hazardous substances, hazardous material facility, low level nuclear waste, critical areas variances, water appropriation, wetlands, waterway construction, drilling for oil and gas, surface mining and surface mining dewatering) and, in exchange for allowing more people to bring challenges, the bill does away with contested case hearings and provides for a direct appeal of an agency permit decision to the circuit court (record review). There is an opportunity for a 60-day extension of the comment period during the public participation process. My reading of the bill suggests that parties must participate in the public process to appeal a decision and the issues have to be the same as what was put in the record, unless grounds for objection arose after the comment period. All of the other objectionable provisions in the original bill have been removed, including citizens suits, attorneys fees, and intervention. Further, the revised legislation is similar to what was enacted in the 1990′s for Title V air permits and endorsed by the business community. Environmental lawyers have indicated that the 1 year contested case hearing process would be streamlined to 3-4 months under judicial record review. My primary question is, “Is there in effect any time savings for a specific company with multiple facilities which need multiple permits, in that additional parties are likely to bring a challenge even though the length of time for the challenge to be resolved is substantially shortened?” I think the question has to be answered by a specific company.