MINUTES OF THE
SENATE Committee on Natural Resources
April 4, 2001
The Senate Committee on Natural Resourceswas called to order by Chairman Dean A. Rhoads, at 2:35 p.m., on Wednesday, April 4, 2001, in Room 2144 of the Legislative Building, Carson City, Nevada. The meeting was video-conferenced from the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, Room 4401, 555 East Washington Ave., Las Vegas, Nevada. Exhibit A is the Agenda. Exhibit B is the Attendance Roster. All exhibits are available and on file at the Research Library of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:
Senator Dean A. Rhoads, Chairman
Senator Lawrence E. Jacobsen, Vice Chairman
Senator Mike McGinness
Senator Raymond C. Shaffer
Senator Bob Coffin
Senator Maggie Carlton
COMMITTEE MEMBERS ABSENT:
Senator Mark A. James (Excused)
GUEST LEGISLATORS PRESENT:
Senator Jon C. Porter, Sr., Clark County Senatorial District No. 1
Senator Alice Constandina (Dina) Titus, Clark County Senatorial District No. 7
STAFF MEMBERS PRESENT:
Fred W. Welden, Committee Policy Analyst
Heather Miller, Committee Secretary
Lou Gardella, President, Jiffy Smog
Brian Keraly, General Manager, Smog Busters
Dave Souten, Environ International Corporation
Helen A. Foley, Lobbyist, Clark County Health District
Christine Robinson, Director, Division of Air Quality, Clark County Health District,
Guy Hobbs, Lobbyist, Nevada Association of Counties
Allen Biaggi, Administrator, Division of Environmental Protection, Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Jason Geddes, Ph.D., Senior Petroleum Chemist, Bureau of Petroleum Technology, Division of Measurement Standards, Nevada Department of Agriculture
Andrew Goodrich, R.E.M., Director, Division of Air Quality Management, District Health Department, Washoe County
Peter D. Krueger, Lobbyist, Nevada Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
Bryan Gresh, Lobbyist, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada
Carole Vilardo, Lobbyist, Nevada Taxpayers Association
Joseph L. Johnson, Lobbyist, Toiyabe Chapter, Sierra Club
Chairman Rhoads opened the hearing on Senate Bill (S.B.) 357.
Lou Gardella, President, Jiffy Smog, Las Vegas, testified via videoconference in opposition of S.B. 357. Mr. Gardella asked on behalf of emission stations in Clark County that the committee not pass S.B. 357 in its present form because it places a further burden on them. He said, should it pass, S.B. 357 would force station owners to purchase equipment costing approximately $5 million in Clark County alone. He explained this cost is compounded by scrapping the current equipment, even though it is still usable, and adds a net loss of about $2.5 million. Mr. Gardella gave further testimony from a written statement, which was provided for the committee (Exhibit C).
Brian Keraly, General Manager, Smog Busters, Las Vegas, testified via videoconference in opposition to S.B. 357, agreeing with Mr. Gardella’s reasons.
Senator Jon C. Porter, Sr., Clark County Senatorial District No. 1, testified that prior actions had been taken to address the air quality issue, namely S.B. 432 of the Seventieth Session.
SENATE BILL 432 OF THE SEVENTIETH SESSION: Directs Legislative Commission to conduct interim study of certain air quality control programs and Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety to implement certain programs of air quality control. (BDR S-54)
Senator Porter said Senator Titus had introduced a similar measure, Senate Concurrent Resolution (S.C.R.) 22 of the Seventieth Session, but the measure was replaced by S.B. 432 when Senator Titus endorsed the bill instead.
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 22 OF THE SEVENTIETH SESSION: Directs Legislative Commission to conduct interim study of causes and possible solutions in Clark County. (BDR R-1476)
Senator Porter explained that he and Senator Titus are concerned about the unhealthy concentrations of carbon monoxide, ozone, and particulate matter. He then read from a prepared statement (Exhibit D). He said his committee conceptually approved of S.B. 536, but did not approve of it as written.
Senator Porter also said Nevada needs to provide increased oversight and technical assistance to Clark County in air quality compliance. He said Environ International Corporation recommended the Division of Environmental Protection participate more in the development, review and approval of the state implementation plan and its revisions. Senator Porter continued to read from his statement. He informed the committee any information it might require was in the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s Bulletin No. 01-3, Volume I (Exhibit E. Original is on file in the Research Library.) and Volume II (Exhibit F. Original is on file in the Research Library.).
Chairman Rhoads asked Senator Porter when Clark County was going to be sanctioned. Senator Porter answered he would rather let the representatives from the Clark County Health District answer questions regarding sanctions.
Senator Alice Constandina (Dina) Titus, Clark County Senatorial District No. 7, testified air quality in Clark County was a serious concern and she had called on the Clark County health officials to take action. However, she said she was dissatisfied with the lack of response she had received to date. She predicted the smog problems Las Vegas was experiencing would discourage the tourism on which the city is so dependent. She said she had four points on which she wanted to focus. First, the fragmented and highly politicized approach used in air quality that has been followed by local government in Southern Nevada. Second, the resulting lack of comprehensive planning which has placed Southern Nevada in a state of continuous noncompliance and put it under the threat of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sanctions. Third, she wanted air quality decisions to be decided upon by local government without interference from the state, with little or no oversight discussed. Finally, internal problems within the health district, which include alleged corruption, mismanagement, favoritism and employee moral, need to be addressed.
Senator Porter introduced an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Sin City Smog,” which criticizes Las Vegas for neglecting its air quality (Exhibit G). He said this kind of bad publicity could ward off potential tourism. Senator Porter then asked if they could discuss S.B. 534 at that time.
Senator Titus explained she fully supported S.B. 534 because it reflects her position that Nevada needs to take a more active role in addressing local air quality problems.
Senator Porter reiterated that the subcommittee discussion, when one is appointed, on these issues would be very important. Chairman Rhoads informed him the subcommittee would be chaired by Senator James, Senator Carlton, and Senator Coffin. Chairman Rhoads asked how the visiting senators would like the meeting to proceed. Senator Porter moved on to discuss S.B. 535.
Senator Titus said she was presenting S.B. 535 on behalf of the committee. She explained she and Senator Porter had worked on S.B. 535 extensively and it needed to be discussed at length. She provided her written testimony (Exhibit H).
Senator Porter interjected that he applauded the local government for hiring a new director for the Division of Air Quality in the Clark County Health District, Christine Robinson. Senator Porter initiated discussion on Senate Joint Resolution (S.J.R.) 12.
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 12: Urges Congress to require Bureau of Land Management of United States Department of the Interior and United States Environmental Protection Agency to take certain actions to prevent and reduce air pollution. (BDR R-792)
Senator Porter briefly stated what S.J.R. 12 would accomplish, should it pass.
Dave Souten, Environ International Corporation, testified his company had been contracted to carry out an extensive study associated with the air quality program in Clark County. He said Environ International Corporation looked at the current state of air regulation and assessed what the future held. He explained the study had been carried out by numerous consultants. Comparisons were made to other states on how they conduct air quality management. He said there were several issues identified, one being considerable interagency and intra-agency conflicts. He said another issue was air quality monitoring, which is improving, but additional improvements are needed. Other problems, he mentioned, were enforcement and public outreach, which are also improving, but need additional improvements as well. He went into detail on each of these problems. He said Environ International recommended improving the monitoring of the pollutants, improving the emission’s inventories, and improving public accessibility to air pollution data. He gave a short Microsoft PowerPoint presentation (Exhibit I) to help illustrate. He also suggested better evaluation of the need for and nature of additional emissions reduction measures. He then suggested eliminating the Clark County Health District’s Air Quality Division and the Comprehensive Planning Department’s air management functions and consolidating those air pollution programs to the formation of a single purpose agency. Another comprehensive agency within the environmental agency would also be a good idea, he said.
Chairman Rhoads asked Mr. Souten when the highway funds would be sanctioned. Mr. Souten deferred the question to Christine Robinson. Senator Jacobsen asked if the air quality was bad throughout the whole region, and how many monitoring systems there are. Senator Porter deferred the question.
Helen A. Foley, Lobbyist, Clark County Health District, testified she and her colleagues were there to answer any questions the committee may have on funding or the proposal to create a single air quality agency. She said she wished to remedy the problems air quality has faced in the past with the help of the committee. She explained the smog fee needed to be increased in S.B. 357 so Clark County could become better equipped to handle the compliance and enforcement issues. She suggested a better way might be a fee that was requested at the time of registration, specifically a clean air surcharge.
Christine Robinson, Director, Division of Air Quality, Clark County Health District, testified on the status of the air quality program and where they are falling short. Ms. Robinson went into a brief overview of how the air quality programs operate on the local and state levels. She confirmed Ms. Foley’s statement that air quality commitments were not being met. She said meeting those commitments was possible, but more resources would have to be placed at the health district’s disposal to do so. She explained there were two economic issues when the district falls short of its requirements. One is on the business-by-business level where businesses have paid over $2 million in fines in the past to the federal government for things like flawed permits. The second issue involves the community, where loss of federal highway funds and loss of local control, meaning the federal government decides how Clark County will clean up its air, have become a problem.
Ms. Robinson said new resources would be required with or without a new agency. Program enhancements are needed in monitoring, compliance, enforcement, permitting, information and administrative services in order to meet the existing commitments to air quality. She briefly commented on how the programs are funded at present. Ms. Robinson explained several amendments she thought beneficial to S.B. 357. She deferred the specifics to Guy Hobbs.
Guy Hobbs, Lobbyist, Nevada Association of Counties (NACO), testified on the various items associated with the enhancement of the agency to meet attainment. The first year of implementation of a new agency with an enhanced air quality program would initially need $3 million-$3.5 million in additional funding. He added that by the fifth year that figure would rise to between $5.5 million and $6 million. He said the health district staff has gone back to look at various fees associated with the air quality division to determine which of those fee areas could provide additional revenue to help offset the gap between current funds and needed funds. The amendments proposed on S.B. 357 (Exhibit J) were created to help close that gap as well.
Ms. Foley added that other fees, aside from those proposed in the amendments, should be considered so all of the funding needs for the new agency could be incorporated into that special air quality surcharge in Southern Nevada.
Mr. Hobbs mentioned S.B. 536 and the proposed amendments for that bill. He said on page 3, lines 24 to 27 should be taken out, also lines 31 to 38. He then said lines 28 to 30, dealing with revenue bonding, should be left in at this time since the agency is likely to have some needs and may have to leverage some of its existing revenues to take care of on a start up basis.
Chairman Rhoads asked if Ms. Robinson believed it would take 10 years to fully meet the requirements outlined in the proposal. Ms. Robinson replied the committee should not confuse demonstrating attainment and reaching attainment.
Chairman Rhoads asked if the federal agency would give the air quality agency 10 years to complete its goals. Ms. Robinson answered that each pollutant has a different removal rate.
Senator Carlton asked for a specific number of cars that would pay the $6 fee upon registration as called for in the proposed amendments. Mr. Hobbs answered the estimate per dollar of the clean-air fee would produce $960,000. Senator Carlton asked which vehicles would be required to pay this fee. Ms. Robinson answered all vehicles registered in Clark County would be responsible for that fee. Senator Shaffer asked if there was an identifiable plan to implement these amendments. Ms. Robinson responded the agency needed to meet its existing requirements and that issue is separate from the goals of a new agency. She said they had created a 5-year plan that upon completion will be at a 95 percent compliance rate. Senator Shaffer and Ms. Robinson then discussed penalties. Ms. Foley added to Ms. Robinson’s 5-year plan explanation.
Ms. Robinson briefly explained why a single new agency would be more beneficial to Clark County than the existing structure. Chairman Rhoads asked Ms. Robinson where she had worked before. Ms. Robinson replied she had worked for the Clark County Department of Comprehensive Planning. Chairman Rhoads asked if other Western cities had similar air quality problems. Ms. Robinson answered every major city continues to battle with air quality issues. Senator Coffin asked what the social cost would be. Ms. Robinson answered between $11 million and $14 million over the next 5 years will meet all needs.
Ms. Foley asked to discuss S.B. 533.
SENATE BILL 533: Authorizes control officer of local air pollution control board to request initiation of certain proceedings regarding enforcement of certain laws pertaining to control of air pollution. (BDR 40-1296)
Ms. Robinson went into a brief explanation of S.B. 533 and what the amendments would do specifically. She asked that this legislation be taken seriously as it would have positive ramifications for Clark County.
Ms. Foley returned to the proposed amendments to S.B. 534. She said, fiscally and politically, the decision was the committee’s to make. She did not go into detail, but offered to answer any questions.
Ms. Foley then moved to discuss S.B. 535. She briefly described the bill. She mentioned Senator Titus had asked for some changes in the language. Ms. Foley explained they had made these changes, although they had not been cleared by Senator Titus and would be discussed in subcommittee. Ms. Foley then discussed S.J.R. 12. She said she supported the resolution as written.
Allen Biaggi, Administrator, Division of Environmental Protection (DEP), Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, testified from a prepared statement provided for the committee (Exhibit K). Mr. Biaggi mentioned the DEP was proposing several amendments to S.B. 534 which were also given to the committee for consideration (Exhibit L). Chairman Rhoads asked if the Governor is aware of the situation at hand. Mr. Biaggi affirmed he was. Mr. Biaggi continued reading his written statement.
Jason Geddes, Ph.D., Senior Petroleum Chemist, Bureau of Petroleum Technology, Division of Measurement Standards, Nevada Department of Agriculture, returned to the discussion on S.B. 357 and testified on how this legislation would affect the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Dr. Geddes provided a written presentation for the committee for its consideration (Exhibit M).
Andrew Goodrich, R.E.M., Director, Division of Air Quality Management, District Health Department, Washoe County, testified in opposition to specific sections of S.B. 534. Mr. Goodrich then read from a prepared statement provided for the committee for its consideration (Exhibit N).
Peter D. Krueger, Lobbyist, Nevada Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, testified he originally opposed S.B. 357 in its original language, but the amendments offered by Clark County to have the Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety collect the fee goes a long way to satisfying his concerns. Mr. Krueger added that further discussion of those amendments in the subcommittee would be expected. He also said the $6 fee previously discussed in S.B. 357 would be compounded onto an existing fee of $5, totaling an $11 registration fee.
Ms. Foley came forward to reiterate that $1 of this $5 fee goes to Clark County. Mr. Krueger said the consumer receives the $11 fee regardless of how much goes to Clark County. Chairman Rhoads said the issue would be discussed in subcommittee.
Bryan Gresh, Lobbyist, Clark County Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, testified in support of the concept of S.B. 353, stating the regional transportation commission was looking forward to working with the subcommittee.
Carole Vilardo, Lobbyist, Nevada Taxpayers Association, testified she had originally opposed the current language of S.B. 536 and S.B. 537, but the proposed amendments removed the majority of her objections. She concurred with Ms. Foley and Ms. Robinson that reaching attainment of air quality goals was essential for Clark County. She said the clean air fee proposed was preferable to the smog, and vehicles need to be smog checked for this reason.
Joseph L. Johnson, Lobbyist, Toiyabe Chapter, Sierra Club, testified in opposition of S.B. 535 and in support of the remaining bills and the resolution. He said the Sierra Club objected to the process involved in S.B. 535, and would like more specificity in all of the bills before passage, which would be covered in subcommittee.
A written testimony was submitted by Raymond Bacon, Lobbyist, Nevada Manufacturers Association, which was distributed to the committee for consideration (Exhibit O).
Chairman Rhoads appointed a subcommittee chaired by Senator James, Senator Carlton, and Senator Coffin. The meeting was adjourned at 4:35 p.m.
Senator Dean A. Rhoads, Chairman