2006 Regular Session
To: Conservation and Water Resources
By: Representative Whittington
AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE THE MISSISSIPPI COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY TO ESTABLISH FEES NECESSARY TO DEFRAY THE COSTS OF OPERATION OF THE COMMISSION, THE MISSISSIPPI ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY PERMIT BOARD AND THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY; TO CREATE THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY PROGRAM FUND; TO AMEND SECTIONS 51-3-31, 51-5-1, 53-7-21, 53-7-25 AND 53-7-69, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO ALLOW THE COMMISSION TO SET PROGRAM FEES AND TO DIRECT FEES TO THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY PROGRAM FUND; TO BRING FORWARD SECTION 53-7-43, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES FOR APPLICATIONS FOR THE MODIFICATION, TRANSFER OR REISSUANCE OF ANY SURFACE MINING PERMIT, FOR PURPOSES OF AMENDMENT; TO REPEAL SECTION 49-31-25, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH ESTABLISHES MULTIMEDIA POLLUTION PREVENTION FEES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) The Commission on Environmental Quality may establish and collect fees sufficient to cover all reasonable direct and indirect costs associated with the development and administration of all programs and activities within the jurisdiction of the commission, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality or the Mississippi Environmental Quality Permit Board. These fees shall be set by the commission at an amount not to exceed the expenses borne by the state, exclusive of federal funding, in carrying out the duties of the commission, department and permit board. The commission may assess fees either as an annual amount to be paid by a facility or person or as amounts reflecting the costs of programs. The commission shall review and, if necessary, revise its fees at least once each year. The commission may establish fees by order or by regulation.
(2) In adopting a fee schedule, the commission shall use graduated fees to reflect at a minimum, the following factors:
(a) The amount of fees remaining in the Department of Environmental Quality Program Fund at the end of each fiscal year that are available to be credited against the costs of a program; and
(b) The types and volume of wastes or emissions, type of facility, population served and any other factors determined necessary to fairly apportion fees to ensure that smaller generators and businesses do not bear an inordinate share of the costs of a program.
(3) Any person required to pay fees established by the commission may petition the commission for a hearing as provided under Section 49-17-35.
(4) The commission shall file a report by July 31 of each year with the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House describing the type and amount of fees collected and the ration of general fund appropriations to environmental fees for the preceding fiscal year.
(5) It is the intent of the Legislature that fees collected pursuant to this section shall not supplant or reduce in any way the general fund appropriation to the Department of Environmental Quality.
(6) The commission shall deposit all fees collected under this section into the "Department of Environmental Quality Program Fund."
SECTION 2. (1) There is created in the State Treasury a special trust fund to be designated as the "Department of Environmental Quality Program Fund," hereinafter referred to in this section as the "fund." Interest earned on the principal therein shall be credited by the Treasurer to the fund. Monies in the fund at the end of the fiscal year shall be retained in the fund for use in the next succeeding fiscal year. The fund may receive monies from any available public or private source, including, but not limited to, collection of fees, interest, grants, public and private donations, and judicial actions.
(2) The commission and the department shall administer the fund as provided in Section 7-7-3.
(3) The commission is authorized to utilize any monies in the fund to support the exercise of the powers and duties of the commission, the department and its executive director, and the permit board as set forth in statute. The commission may delegate to the executive director the authority to make expenditures of the fund.
SECTION 3. The commission may take any administrative or legal action necessary to collect any fee owed to the commission and to collect attorney's fees and costs related to the collection of any fee. The commission may, by regulation or order, impose a late fee for any fee not paid to the commission in a timely fashion and may issue an order directing the holder of a permit who has not paid its fees within ninety (90) days of the fee due date to cease and desist its operations under the permit. The commission may adopt regulations allowing the Mississippi Environmental Quality Permit Board to revoke any permit for which fees due under commission regulations have not been paid within ninety (90) days of the due date.
SECTION 4. Section 51-3-31, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
51-3-31. Any person desiring to use water for a beneficial purpose shall apply to the board for a permit for such use on a form prescribed by the board for such purpose. The * * * application shall provide such information as deemed appropriate by the board to its decision to issue such permit.
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SECTION 5. Section 51-5-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
51-5-1. (1) Every person, firm and corporation desiring to engage in the business of drilling wells for underground water in the State of Mississippi shall file an application with the State Board of Water Commissioners for a drilling license, using forms prepared by the board, setting out qualifications therefor and such other information, including any examination, oral or written, as may be required by the board. * * *
(2) All licenses shall expire on June 30 of each year and shall not be transferable and shall be renewable annually, without qualifying examination, upon payment of the required fee. * * *
(3) Nothing in this chapter shall prevent a person who has not obtained a license pursuant thereto from constructing a water well on his own or leased property intended for use only in a single family house which is his permanent residence, or intended for use only for watering livestock on his farm, and where the waters to be produced are not intended for use by the public or any residence other than his own. However, such person shall comply with all rules and regulations as to the construction of wells as set out by the provisions of this chapter.
(4) This section shall not apply to any person who performs labor or services at the direction and under the personal supervision of a licensed well contractor.
(5) A license may be renewed and shall be renewable without examination for the ensuing year by making an application not later than the expiration date and paying the applicable fee. Such application shall have the effect of extending the validity of the current license until the new license is received or the applicant is notified by the board that it has refused his license. On application made after June 30 of each year, the license will be renewed only upon payment of the applicable fee, plus a penalty of Ten Dollars ($10.00) for each month or fraction thereof the application is delinquent. Delinquency in excess of one (1) year may, in the discretion of the State Board of Water Commissioners, be deemed as a waiver of the driller's right for renewal; and if he should apply thereafter, the board may require that he be considered as a new applicant, including the requirement for examination.
(6) Any person whose license has been revoked may, upon application for a new license, be required, in the discretion of the board, to take the examination and in all other ways be considered as a new applicant.
SECTION 6. Section 53-7-21, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
53-7-21. (1) Unless exempted under Section 53-7-7, no operator shall engage in surface mining without having first obtained coverage under a general permit or having obtained from the Permit Board a permit for each operation. The permit or coverage under a general permit shall authorize the operator to engage in surface mining upon the area of land described in the application for a period of either five (5) years or longer period of time as deemed appropriate by the Permit Board from the date of issuance or until reclamation of the affected area is completed and the reclamation bond is finally released, whichever comes first.
(2) Each operator holding a permit shall annually, before the anniversary date of the permit, file with the department a certificate of compliance in which the operator, under oath, shall declare that the operator is following the approved mining and reclamation plan and is abiding by this chapter and the rules and regulations adopted under this chapter. The commission may establish a fee for filing the certificate of compliance.
SECTION 7. Section 53-7-25, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
53-7-25. (1) Each application for a surface mining permit and for coverage under a general permit shall be accompanied by an application fee established by the commission. * * * The commission, in considering regulations on the fee schedule, may recognize the difference in the various materials, taking into consideration the commercial value of the material and the nature and size of operation necessary to extract it.
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(2) Upon submission of the certificate of compliance required under Section 53-7-21, each operator shall pay a fee of Fifty Dollars ($50.00).
SECTION 8. Section 53-7-69, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
53-7-69. (1) There is created in the State Treasury a fund to be designated as the "Surface Mining and Reclamation Fund," referred to hereinafter as the "fund." There is created in the fund an account designated as the "Land Reclamation Account" and an account designated as the "Surface Mining Program Operations Account."
(2) The fund shall be treated as a special trust fund. Interest earned on the principal therein shall be credited by the Treasurer to the fund.
(3) The fund may receive monies from any available public or private sources, including, but not limited to, collection of fees, interest, grants, taxes, public and private donations, judicial actions, penalties and forfeited performance bonds. Any monies received from penalties, forfeited performance bonds, judicial actions and the interest thereon, less enforcement and collection costs, shall be credited to the Land Reclamation Account. Any monies received from the collection of * * * grants, taxes, public or private donations and the interest thereon shall be credited to the Surface Mining Program Operations Account. All fees collected shall be deposited in the Department of Environmental Quality Program Fund.
(4) The commission shall expend or utilize monies in the fund by an annual appropriation by the Legislature as provided herein. Monies in the Land Reclamation Account may be used to defray any costs of reclamation of land affected by mining operations. Monies in the Surface Mining Program Operations Account may be used to defray the reasonable direct and indirect costs associated with the administration and enforcement of this chapter.
(5) Proceeds from the forfeiture of performance bonds or deposits and penalties recovered shall be available to be expended to reclaim, in accordance with this chapter, lands with respect to which the performance bonds or deposits were provided and penalties assessed. If the commission expends monies from the fund for which the cost of reclamation exceeded the proceeds from the forfeiture of performance bonds or deposits, the commission may seek to recover any monies expended from the fund from any responsible party.
SECTION 9. Section 53-7-43, Mississippi Code of 1972, is brought forward as follows:
53-7-43. (1) Applications for the modification, transfer or reissuance of any surface mining permit issued under this chapter may be filed with the department. The Permit Board may modify any surface mining permit to increase or decrease the permit area and shall require an increase in the performance bond and a modified reclamation plan for any expanded area.
(2) Any permit issued under this chapter shall carry with it the right of successive reissuance upon expiration for areas within the boundaries of the existing permit. The operator may apply for reissuance and that permit shall be reissued, except as provided in this subsection. On application for reissuance the burden of proving that the permit should not be reissued shall be on the opponents of reissuance or the department. If the opponents to reissuance or the department establish and the Permit Board finds, in writing, that the operator is not satisfactorily meeting the terms and conditions of the existing permit or the present surface mining and reclamation operation is not in compliance with this chapter and the rules and regulations issued under this chapter, the Permit Board shall not reissue the permit.
(3) Any permit reissuance shall be for a term not to exceed the term of the original permit established by this chapter. Application for permit reissuance shall be filed with the Permit Board at least sixty (60) days before the expiration of the permit. If an application for reissuance is timely filed, the operator may continue surface mining operations under the existing permit until the Permit Board takes action on the reissuance application.
SECTION 10. Section 49-31-25, Mississippi Code of 1972, which establishes the multimedia pollution prevention fee, is repealed.
SECTION 11. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006.