NMED Proposes to Increase Hazardous Waste Fees

For the first time in over 13 years, the New Mexico Environment Department is proposing to increase the fees for hazardous waste permits, review of cleanup documents, and hazardous waste business fees.  As a result, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board will hold a public hearing on Friday, December 20th, beginning at 9 am, to hear from the public, the parties, and the Environment Department about the proposal.  The hearing will be held in Room 309 of the State Capitol Building, located at 490 Old Santa Fe Trail, in Santa Fe.  https://www.env.nm.gov/environmental-improvement/main-2/ and filings at https://www.env.nm.gov/environmental-improvement/eib-19-35-r/

CCNS has prepared a sample public comment letter you can use to support the proposed fee increases, which is available right here on our website.  Sample Public Comment HW Fees 12-12-19

The fee increases, if approved, will support the Department’s regulatory oversight of hazardous waste facilities that handle, treat, store, and dispose of hazardous waste.  The Department’s Hazardous Waste Bureau regulates 23 facilities, including Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy sites.  Twelve are commercial and private facilities, including the oil refineries in Artesia, Bloomfield and Gallup.  https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/permitted-facilities/

The proposal includes an annual inflation adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for All Urban Consumers.  If approved, the fees would keep up with inflation.  The current fees do not reflect the actual costs for the Hazardous Waste Bureau to do its regulatory business to protect human health and the environment.  Use of the CPI would provide consistent support for the Compliance and Technical Assistance Management Program of the Hazardous Waste Bureau.

The Bureau is funded by various sources, including grants from the Environmental Protection Agency, permit fees, and the General Fund.  Fees generate between $240,000 to $300,000 annually.  From Fiscal Years 2012 to 2019, the Martinez Administration did not fund the Bureau’s operating budget from the General Fund.  As a result, the operating budget exceeded revenues, resulting in the evisceration of the Bureau.  https://www.env.nm.gov/environmental-improvement/eib-19-35-r/, Pleading Log No. 1. 

Under the hazardous waste regulations, the fees are deposited into the state’s budget under the hazardous waste fund, which supports the hazardous waste program.

Since the beginning of the year, the Bureau held a number of teleconferences and meetings with the regulated community.  The DOD is a party to the hearing, representing its seven sites across New Mexico.  They are concerned about the increases in fees, which they calculate would be millions of dollars annually.  https://www.env.nm.gov/environmental-improvement/eib-19-35-r/, Pleading Log No. 6.

One solution would be for the sites to carefully review their documents before submittal to the Bureau.  In some cases, the number of hours dedicated by Bureau staff to the thorough review of the submittals resulted in an hourly cost of less than $4 an hour.  https://www.env.nm.gov/environmental-improvement/eib-19-35-r/, Pleading Log No. 1.

  1. Thank you to everyone who contributed on Giving Tuesday to our CCNS Media Network, which includes the weekly CCNS News Update and this email.  If you missed Giving Tuesday, please support CCNS with an end-of-the-year tax-deductible contribution.  Mail your check to CCNS, P. O. Box 31147, Santa Fe, NM  87594-1147, or use our e-contribution form on the right side of our home page at http://nuclearactive.org/ We really need your contribution to continue our weekly broadcast and social media work.  Many thanks!
  2.  Monday, December 16th at 5 pm – New Mexico Environment Department and Department of Energy Annual Plan for Cleanup of Los Alamos National Laboratory Legacy Waste at the Los Alamos County Council Chambers, 1000 Central Avenue, Los Alamos.  This public meeting is required by the 2016 Consent Order.
    Here’s a link to a recent posting of the Updated Fiscal Year 2020 Appendices A, B, and C to the Consent Order – https://ext.em-la.doe.gov/eprr/repo-file.aspx?oid=0902e3a6800c30b4&n=EMID-700658_FY20_Consent_Order_Apps_A,B,C_110719.pdf
  3.  Tuesday, December 17th from 5:30 to 7 pm – LANL hosted Individual Stormwater Permit public meeting (semi-annual meeting required by the permit) at LA Golf Course, 4244 Diamond Drive, Los Alamos.  Topics include:
  • status of Individual Stormwater Permit (IP);
  • 2019 stormwater/precipitation results; and
  • overview of the IP website
  1. Friday, December 20th, at 9 am NM Env’l Improvement Board hearing on proposed Hazardous Waste fee increases.  Room 309 at Roundhouse.  See this week’s CCNS News Update for more info and a sample public comment letter in support of fee increases.
  2. Thursday, January 9th, NMED meeting re:  2016 LANL Consent Order.  Time and place:  TBD

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