Presentation on Air Quality Regulation
TRANSPORTATION LEGISLATION REVIEW COMMITTEE
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03:08 PM -- Presentation on Air Quality Regulation
Mr. Tom Peterson, representing the Colorado Asphalt Association, commented on the imposition of environmental fines on the asphalt industry by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE.) He commented on the de-listing of hot-mix asphalt plants, and on compliance with environmental laws in the industry. He raised concerns with the level of fines levied against operators in the industry and said that these costs are passed on in the sale of construction materials. He commented on a recent accident in northern Colorado that involved the spillage of asphalt into a creek.
Mr. Pete Siegmund, Old Castle Southwest Group, commented on his asphalt production business and on fines that have been imposed on his business by the CDPHE. He spoke to the imposition of fines that he considers "double-dipping." He said that in instances in which there are honest mistakes that do not result in pollution of the environment, CDPHE should have discretion in the imposition of fines.
Mr. John Ary, A&S Construction, said that he believes that CDPHE's fine process should be reviewed and that the fines appear to be "revenue-driven" rather than "environment-driven." He said that many fines at the $15,000 level have been imposed by CDPHE. He said that a failure to respond in a timely fashion could be fined by the department as a "paperwork" violation.
Mr. Ary commented on the imposition of a fine by the department for an instance in which an air pollution permit number was not placed on a piece of equipment. He said that the failure of his company to have the number on the equipment was an oversight on the part of his company.
Mr. Ken Coulson, Coulson Excavating Loveland, commented on violations by his company for which fines have been imposed. He said that his company has had $215,000 imposed for violations.
Mr. Rob Mangone, Rocky Mountain Pre-mix, commented on layoffs in his industry. He said that, in today's economy, costs such as fines must be absorbed and can lead to further layoffs. He said that he would be willing to pay the CDPHE to inspect his property in order for the company to be in compliance with all regulations.
Mr. Greg Rippy, Grand River Construction, said that his company has not been fined by the CDPHE, and that the common goal for all parties involved in this discussion is clean air. He said that CDPHE is constricted in its action and that he hopes a dialogue of collaboration will result from the raising of these issues. He said that reasonable fines should be imposed by the department.
Representative McFadyen said that she would like to see this problem solved in rule rather than in legislation. Mr. Rippy said that this is also his preference.
Mr. Paul Tourangeau, Director, Air Pollution Control Division, CDPHE, said that the department is a partner with the asphalt industry and that there should be no concerns with any type of retaliation by the CDPHE. He commented on the "compass" project in which the department examined compliance of the industry with environmental regulations. He said that this project entailed a full year in which a hiatus from regulatory enforcement was taken. He noted that subsequent to the project compliance increased in the industry. He said that there is no longer a dedicated FTE in the department to facilitate compliance by the industry, and that the department has a regular schedule on which inspections are conducted.
Mr. Tourangeau commented on the level of fines that are imposed by the department and said that state and federal laws allow for the imposition of strict fines. He commented on considerations of the department in imposing fines. He noted that fines may be appealed to the Air Quality Control Commission. He commented further on "paperwork violations" and said that some violations that are perceived to be "paperwork violations" may actually be environmental violations. He said that the regulations are complex and that it takes work in order to comply with them. He noted that asphalt companies agree to comply with the regulations when they receive a permit. He said that taking a case to the commission is expensive for all parties and that the settlement of cases can potentially save some of these expenses.
The committee meeting adjourned.