Changes proposed to rule and regulation adoption process

Rule and regulation changes proposed by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) would be subject to increased reporting requirements under a bill heard by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Feb. 20.

LB637, introduced by Cortland Sen. Norm Wallman, would require NDEQ to prepare a statement describing the annual economic impact on all affected businesses when considering the adoption of rules or regulations that differ from federal regulations or that increase costs on regulated persons and other entities.

Wallman said the bill is widely supported by state businesses, saying, “This is all about accountability.”

NDEQ also would be required to consider less intrusive or costly alternative methods for achieving the proposed rules or regulations, including less stringent schedules or deadlines for compliance, simplification of reporting and the establishment of performance standards in place of design or operational standards.

LB637 also would require the governor’s Policy Research Office to review any proposed rule or regulation having a total estimated economic impact greater than $500,000 and imposing new requirements or costs on regulated persons and other entities.

Pat Ptacek, representing the Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers, supported the bill, saying it would ensure decisions are made with plenty of input.

“The agency should be meeting with stakeholders before any final drafts are created,” he said. “We would like to be at the table, offering our suggestions.”

NDEQ director Mike Linder testified in opposition to the bill. He said it would increase time and operating costs unnecessarily.

“Knowing the complexity of environmental regulations, we do as much proactive outreach with stakeholders as possible,” Linder said. “This would just add an additional layer of process.”

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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