Senate passes bill easing regulatory spill rules

Posted: Monday, March 10, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- Oil operators would have longer to file spill prevention and contingency plans for state oversight under a bill passed in the Senate on Monday.

Companies would have to file oil discharge prevention and contingency plans every five years, mirroring federal requirements, under Senate Bill 74. The current state requirement is every three years.

The state requires spill prevention plans from regulated operators of oil exploration and production facilities as well as those who operate pipelines, oil tankers and barges, and rail shippers.

The bill, requested by Gov. Frank Murkowski as part of his initiatives to streamline permitting and administrative rules, is sponsored by the Senate Resources Committee. Senate Resources Chairman Scott Ogan, R-Wasilla, said 125 such plans are filed by companies in the oil industry every three years.

Changing the filing requirements makes it easier for state Department of Natural Resources workers to do more field inspections and tests, Ogan said.

Sen. Georgianna Lincoln, D-Rampart, questioned whether budget cuts proposed by Murkowski would allow the department to do more field work.

Senators approved Lincoln's amendment to provide nonbinding legislative intent language encouraging state regulators to perform more field inspections, tests and exercises to prevent spills.

The Senate passed the bill 16-0. It now goes to the House, where a similar bill is being considered.

The House Resources Committee was scheduled to hear House Bill 113 on Monday.

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