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Published on Friday, February 22, 2013

MTCA reform legislation

On February 20, AWC testified with positive commentary, but short of full support, on SB 5296. This bill from Sen. Ericksen (R-Ferndale) makes significant changes to the statutes dealing with toxic cleanups and authorizing the expenditure of state dollars to fund cleanups, prevention activities, stormwater management, wood stove remediation, and many other things important to cities.

We have been working closely with Sen. Ericksen and he has been receptive to our concerns and to making sure his changes are workable for cities. However, this is a very complicated bill, so additional eyes on it would be helpful for us.

Among other things, the bill does the following:

  • Prioritizes cleanups, stormwater investments, and hazardous waste work out of the Local Toxics Control Account.
  • Prioritizes cleanups and brownfield work in the State Toxics Control Account.
  • Provides a mechanism for private sector model remedies for routine cleanups.
  • Requires a separate line item for larger multi-biennial cleanups.
  • An “Environmental Legacy Account” (previously known as “Special Category E”) is created to accumulate funds in excess of $150 million per year. This account is authorized to expend funds on the state’s responsibilities for hazardous and solid waste management, among other things. We’re still investigating how this impacts city efforts.

In general, we are supportive of Sen. Ericksen’s efforts to prioritize the use of MTCA dollars, which is a priority for AWC this year. This bill offers one way to do this, but as you can see, it is far-reaching and leaves many questions. (For example, how would local solid and hazardous waste programs be handled?) Cities that receive funding from the state through the MTCA accounts are encouraged to review this bill and provide feedback to Carl Schroeder.