Legislative Update – April 2020

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Budget:
The Governor signed the “skinny” budget on 3/28/20.  The General Appropriations Budget Reconciliation Bill and the Environmental Budget Reconciliation Bill provided ADEQ with:

  • For the first time in over a decade, the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF) is being fully funded the statute mandated $15M from the general fund! 
  • The same funding as last year, with an increase based on inflation, plus restoration of $993,000 to the AQ Fee Fund to restore one-time FY Volkswagen settlement funding sweep.

Our other budget requests were not included, but they may be addressed depending when the Legislature reconvenes (April 13, 2020, which may change given the Governor’s Stay At Home Order).

Critical Bills:
When the Legislature adjourned, two critical bills were left on the Senate Consent Calendar:

  • H2456 – Environmental Quality Programs; Terminations; Repeal
  • H2455 – Air Quality Omnibus

H2456 – Environmental Quality Programs; Terminations; Repeal continues and aligns the Voluntary Remediation Program (VRP), the restrictions on Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for navigable waters, the Drinking Water Monitoring Assistance Program (MAP), the Safe Drinking Water Fund (in same statute as MAP) with the ADEQ sunset date. It also aligns the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP) sunset with the ADEQ sunset date and transfers the administration of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to ADEQ. 

The VRP and TMDL programs are currently set to terminate on July 1, 2020. The MAP and Safe Drinking Water Fund are set to terminate on December 31, 2020. The description of each program is below:

  • The VRP allows property owners, prospective purchasers and interested parties to investigate or clean up contaminated properties. Program participants work with a single point of contact at ADEQ to clean up or investigate properties, resolve ADEQ enforcement actions, and expedite redevelopment of contaminated properties.  ADEQ oversees VRP actions and provides closure documentation for successful site remediation that is accepted by all relevant ADEQ programs. 
  • The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires the TMDL Program pursuant to40 C.F.R. § 130.7(d). Under the TMDL program, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) assesses navigable waters within the State and identifies waters that do not meet water quality standards. ADEQ then creates a TMDL for those identified waterbodies, which estimates the amount of pollutants a water can receive and still achieve and maintain water quality standards. ADEQ then implements each TMDL through permit limitations and the nonpoint source program. 
  • MAP helps small drinking water systems in Arizona who serve less than 10,000 people comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) by conducting sampling and analysis of drinking water. There are currently 840 Arizona public water systems enrolled in MAP. MAP was established to assist small public water systems in meeting federal water sampling requirements (42 U.S.C. §300f through 300j-26), and termination of the program could potentially put ADEQ’s access to federal SDWA grants at risk. MAP is an integral part of the State’s administration and enforcement of the SDWA, and removal of the program could cause EPA to condition funds on the existence of a monitoring assistance program. Additionally, should the Safe Drinking Water Program Fund terminate, ADEQ would not have the funds for the personnel who administer the key programs that protect drinking water in the state, including Technical Assistance, Inspections and Compliance, and Compliance Assistance.

H2455 – Air Quality Omnibus contains a 2 year extension of the EPA deadline, from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2022, to approve certain modifications to the Vehicle Emissions Testing Program as part of the State Implementation Plan (SIP). The modifications include:

  • Vehicle Emissions Inspection exemptions for active military personnel on assignment outside Arizona
  • Expanded on-board diagnostic (OBD) testing
  • Options for dealerships to test diesel vehicles onsite, rather than transporting to a testing station
  • Exemptions for cranes and oversized vehicles.

We had hoped to have the approval soon, but given the current coronavirus, it is unlikely to happen before the current deadline of July 1, 2020.  

If we don’t extend the deadline and don’t have EPA approval, all the modifications would have to be run in another bill next session and the SIP amendment would have to be resubmitted, resulting in further delay in being able to provide relief and better service to our customers.

Since both bill passed out of the House of Representatives and the Senate Natural Resources Committee unanimously, we anticipate that when the Senate reconvenes they will quickly pass it during 3rd Read and send them on to the Governor.

Thanks to Roxanne Linsley, ADEQ Legislative Analyst and Community Liaison for Pima and Pinal Counties for this update!

Amanda Stone’s March presentation to EPAZ can be downloaded here.

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