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Natural Resources Board

Summary of Act 115 Changes

Link to: Full Text of Act No. 115

SUMMARY OF ACT NO. 115 (H .175)
PREPARED BY LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
SECTIONS RELATING TO: ENVIRONMENTAL BOARD;
WATER RESOURCES BOARD; ENVIRONMENTAL COURT
Effective: January 31, 2005

This act consolidates and clarifies existing environmental permitting appeal routes so that acts or decisions of the district environmental commissions and the secretary of natural resources are subject to appeal to the environmental court, as are decisions by local development review entities. It adds an additional judge to the environmental court, establishes a dedicated minimum level of administrative assistance to be provided for that court, and allows an environmental judge to be assigned to another court only with the judge’s consent and for a period of time not exceeding two years. As part of the consolidation process, the act repeals the air and solid waste variance board and allocates the variance function to the secretary of natural resources. It repeals the waste facilities panel and the water resources board. It replaces the environmental board with a natural resources board, to consist of a full-time chair and two citizen panels, a land use panel and a water resources panel, consisting of four persons each, with the chair serving as chair of each of the two panels. The land use panel will assume the rulemaking functions previously exercised by the environmental board, will manage the process by which Act 250 permits are issued, may initiate enforcement on related matters, and may petition the environmental court for permit revocation. The new water resources panel will assume the rulemaking functions previously exercised by the water resources board as well as outstanding resource waters designation and wetlands reclassifications, both of which are revised by the act so as to take place by rulemaking. Although the act removes the appellate functions from the environmental board and the water resources board, it gives the land use panel party status before the environmental court and the ability to appeal to the supreme court in all matters related to Act 250 permits, and it gives the water resources panel party status before the environmental court as well as the ability to appeal to the supreme court in all matters related to water rules.

The act revises Act 250 party status provisions so as to allow as parties persons “with a particularized interest” protected by the chapter that may be affected by the decision, and to allow participation by newly coined “friends of the commission.” It revises provisions related to Act 250 jurisdictional opinions, requiring greater notice of the process, but allowing finality if the process is followed. The act creates a voluntary scoping process for new Act 250 applications. It amends numerous agency of natural resources appeals provisions to allow for most acts or decisions under the specified statutes to be appealed to the environmental court. It creates minimum requirements for the contents of the environmental notice bulletin maintained by the agency of natural resources. It amends numerous statutes relating to the agency of natural resources so as to create consistent definitions of the words “secretary” and “person” and otherwise to reflect the revised appellate authorities.

The act establishes a chapter on consolidated appeals which defines “aggrieved person” as a person who alleges an injury to a particularized interest protected by specified laws attributable to a decision by a district coordinator, district commission, the secretary, or the environmental court that can be redressed by the environmental court or the supreme court. This chapter creates a category of party by right, and it addresses stays, consolidated appeals, limitations on appeal, and intervention. It provides that prior decisions of the environmental board, water resources board, and waste facilities panel shall be given the same weight as prior decisions of the environmental court. It provides that existing rules stay in effect until amended and allows the completion of work by existing boards.

Link to: Full Text of Act No. 115

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Last Updated February 1, 2005

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