From April 2013

Public Hearings Scheduled For Cook Inlet Wastewater Discharge Permit.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking public comment for a new permit it would grant for mobile oil and gas exploration facilities in the state-controlled waters of Cook Inlet.

Listen:

:http://www.kdll.org/wp-content/uploads/130426.permit.hearing.mp3|titles=130426.permit.hearing

Two things happened that made DEC want to draw up a new permit for energy companies in Cook Inlet: In October of last year, the state was given more control over permitting and enforcement of the Clean Water Act by being granted primacy. So DEC is now the lead agency for water protection in Cook Inlet, basically from Kalgin Island north. And then, the parts of the old permit, which actually expired in 2011, were undergoing some legal review.

“So because it it was under appeal, we couldn’t reissue the full permit,” said DEC Water, Oil and Gas section manager Gerry Brown.

“There were portions of that (permit) that weren’t appealed, and that was the exploration portion. So the production portion of that permit was the part of that…that we basically couldn’t renew,” he said.

The EPA will develop its own permitting for nearby federally-controlled waters. The draft of the state permit isn’t a whole lot different than the one it might replace. Companies still submit plans for best management practices, environmental studies and reports and drilling fluids plans.

“From the state’s side, most of these modifications have to do with our taking over primacy and clarifying a lot of the

            DEC is taking its proposed permit around for a series of public hearings, starting Monday night in Kenai. It’s likely that much of the input will be focused on the kinds of discharge the permitting allows. As it’s drafted, the permit allows discharge of drilling fluids and drill cuttings, excess cement slurry and deck drainage. But not within 4,000 meters, about two and a half miles, of sensitive environmental areas or special management areas, like coastal marsh or river mouths. A number of state critical habitat areas are located within the permitting zone: Kalgin Island, Redoubt Bay, Clam Gulch and Kachemak Bay. Studies continue, but there’s not much out there about the specific effects these chemicals might have on marine life when discharged. A 2010 study for the National Marine Fisheries Service found that relevant information was limited or absent for how the majority of emerging chemicals and products affect Beluga whales.

DEC will be in Kenai for public hearings Monday April 29th at the Visitor’s Center from 6-9 pm. The following night in Homer at the Island and Ocean Visitor’s Center and May 2nd in Anchorage. The public comment period runs until May 22nd.

Still The Last Frontier?

As business, industry and population continue to grow on the Kenai Peninsula, residents and elected officials continue to grapple with the question of how to facilitate that growth in terms of the size of government and the specific roles it plays. We take a closer look at the ongoing issue of land use and management in the Borough.

Read more