Section 2 of the act creates the legislative interim committee on ozone air quality (committee) to study ozone air quality in the state. The committee consists of 6 members of the senate and 6 members of the house of representatives. The committee may meet up to 6 times during the 2023 interim.
With respect to an allegation in a complaint or the belief of the division of administration in the department of public health and environment (division) regarding a violation or noncompliance related to air quality laws (violation), section 3 requires the division to:
- Cause a prompt and diligent investigation into the violation to be made unless the complaint clearly appears to be frivolous, falsified, or trivial or the complainant withdraws the complaint within the investigation time period;
- Within 30 days after receipt of the complaint, respond to a complainant to outline the steps of the complaint investigation;
- If the division is acting in response to a complaint, notify the complainant that an investigation has commenced at the time that the division provides notice to the owner or operator of the air pollution source; and
- Accept and consider all relevant evidence that it receives or acquires when investigating the alleged violation, unless the evidence is, on its face, falsified.
If the division determines that a violation has occurred, current law requires the division to issue a compliance order unless the responsible party gives timely notice that the violation occurred during a period of start-up, shutdown, or malfunction. Section 3 removes the exception for periods of start-up, shutdown, or malfunction.
Section 3 also prohibits the division from assessing a penalty for a violation that is less than the economic benefit that the owner or operator derived from the violation.
Section 3 also requires, if a hearing is requested, the air quality control commission to provide at least 45 days' notice to any complainant that submitted a complaint alleging the applicable violation and allows the complainant to participate as a party to the hearing.
Current law provides that any noncompliance that occurs during a period of start-up, shutdown, or malfunction exempts the owner or operator of a source of pollution from the duty to pay penalties related to that noncompliance. Section 3 removes this provision.
Current law requires the division to consider certain factors in determining the amount of a civil penalty to assess for a violation. Section 4 requires the division to also consider the severity of the violation.
Current law provides that any action related to an alleged violation of air quality laws that is not commenced within 5 years after the occurrence of the alleged violation is time barred. Section 5 excludes actions commenced to address a failure to obtain a permit from this statute of limitation.
Section 6 requires the oil and gas conservation commission (COGCC), by April 28, 2024, to promulgate rules that evaluate and address the cumulative impacts of oil and gas operations. The rules must include a definition of cumulative impacts.
Section 7 allows any person to submit a complaint to the COGCC. The COGCC or the director of the COGCC is required to promptly commence and complete an investigation into the violation alleged in the complaint, unless the complaint clearly appears on its face to be frivolous, falsified, or trivial or the complainant withdraws the complaint. The COGCC must also accept and consider all relevant evidence it receives or acquires when investigating the violation, unless the evidence is, on its face, falsified.
For the 2023-24 state fiscal year, section 8 appropriates $79,493 from the general fund to the department of public health and environment for use by the air pollution control division in the following amounts:
- $71,473 for personal services related to stationary sources; and
- $8,020 for operating expenses related to stationary sources.
For the 2023-24 state fiscal year, section 8 also appropriates $820,697 from the oil and gas conservation and environmental response fund to the department of natural resources in the following amounts:
- $725,531 for use by the COGCC for program costs; and
- $95,166 for use by the office of the executive director of the department of natural resources, which is reappropriated to the department of law to provide legal services for the department of natural resources.
For the 2023-24 state fiscal year, section 8 also appropriates $61,616 from the general fund to the legislative department in the following amounts:
- $26,180 for use by the legislative council;
- $18,452 for use by the committee on legal services; and
- $16,984 for use by the general assembly.
APPROVED by Governor June 6, 2023
EFFECTIVE June 6, 2023
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)