Arkansas Governor Hutchinson announced his legislative priorities on December 20th for the 91st Arkansas General Assembly.
Two items related to environmental or energy programs were part of the Governor’s list of priorities.
The two priorities address:
- Waste Tire Management Program
- Arkansas Economic Development Commission Office of Energy
Waste Tire Management Program
The Governor stated that the Arkansas system of waste tire management is “inefficient and lacking any centralized control.”
The Arkansas General Assembly enacted legislation a number of years ago whose purpose was to ensure the appropriate management of waste tires in Arkansas. Both the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (“ADEQ”) and Arkansas Regional Solid Waste Management Districts played roles in the program. For example, ADEQ administers the program and requires permits for certain waste tire collection, process and disposal activity. Further, the agency issues licenses to operate waste tire processing facilities and waste tire transporters.
Over the course of the past year interest has been expressed by various organizations in addressing the waste tire management program. For example, the Arkansas Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America held a meeting on November 7th and stated one of the goals was to:
. . .assist in developing the most efficient and effective waste tire management program possible. The stakeholders will come together and develop strategies for improving the management of waste tires and assist with the development of the proposed legislation.
The agenda of that program identified issues such as:
- System Funding
- Distribution of Funds
- Collection, Hauling & Reporting
In addition, the Arkansas House and Senate Committees on Public Health and Welfare met jointly in July to discuss the waste tire program. The joint committees voted at this hearing to:
. . .request a legislative audit of the waste tire districts in order to more thoroughly evaluate each district’s current position as well as its challenges.
Governor Hutchinson’s priority is to “reform legislation” that would:
- Create a central registry within ADEQ
- Provide uniform fees across the state
- Allow increased monitoring of the regional districts to reduce waste and abuse
Office of Energy
Under the heading of “Agency reorganization and Efficiency” the Governor proposes to transfer the Office of Energy from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to ADEQ.
The mission of the Office of Energy has been described as promoting energy efficiency, clean technology and sustainable strategies that encourage economic development, energy security and the environmental well-being for all citizens of Arkansas.