August 18, 2008
Attn: Nina Kocourek
Office of Water and Watersheds, Mail Stop OWW-130
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Sixth Ave Ste 900
Seattle, WA 98101-3140
RE: State of Alaska’s application to administer the NPDES program in Alaska
Dear Ms. Kocourek:
The Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. (RDC) is writing to express its support for the approval of the application by the State of Alaska to administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program in Alaska, pursuant to Section 402 of the Clean Water Act.
RDC is a statewide, non-profit, membership-funded organization founded in 1975. The RDC membership is comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s oil and gas, mining, timber, tourism, and fisheries industries, as well as Alaska Native corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to link these diverse interests together to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) is the lead agency that would administer APDES, a phased permit program to assume primacy over a period of five years. APDES would be subject to EPA oversight, including continuous monitoring and ultimate enforcement authority. ADEC has done an exemplary job of developing all aspects of the APDES program, and did so by fully involving the public, ensuring a beneficial and successful outcome. The agency has, and will continue to provide for, extensive opportunities for public input, including rural and Alaska Native perspectives, as outlined in the released Public Participation Document. This document ensures all Alaska water users benefit from the program, including subsistence users, the general public, and industry.
Alaska is one of only five states in the union that currently does not have primacy over NPDES. RDC recognizes that for a state to obtain primacy over the program, the requirements must be at least as stringent as the EPA’s, and the State’s application exceeds those requirements. In light of Alaska’s unique resources and characteristics, the regulated community will benefit from the local perspective brought by state administration of this program.
RDC members have a large stake in ensuring clean water standards in Alaska waters. Indeed, nearly every industry in Alaska has permits under the Clean Water Act, and therefore has a high interest in accessibility to qualified regulators that are familiar with Alaska’s distinct circumstances. Alaska’s program provides for that accessibility.
The State of Alaska is appropriately equipped with the financial resources and personnel needed to administer the APDES program. The state has demonstrated an ability to responsibly manage and protect Alaska waters, and it is for that reason RDC urges the EPA to approve the application for the State to assume primacy administration.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important issue.
Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc.
Ec: Sharon Morgan, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
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