Natural Resources

Environmental regulator granted additional authority

A bill intended to give a state agency the ability to respond more quickly to the release of pollution received final approval from lawmakers April 12.

Sen. Bruce Bostelman
Sen. Bruce Bostelman

LB1102, introduced by Sen. Bruce Bostelman of Brainard, creates the Nebraska Environmental Response Act.

It authorizes the director of the state Department of Environment and Energy to issue an order requiring a person responsible for releasing a pollutant to clean it up or take action to do so if that person fails or refuses to act.

If the state responds to a release, the responsible person is liable to the state for cleanup costs, which become a lien on any real property owned by the person and subject to or affected by the cleanup.

The director may cause an administrative order to be served upon those the director has reason to believe have violated the act. An order may assess a penalty of up to $5,000 per day per violation.

The director may allow another person, entity or responsible person to remediate site conditions voluntarily under the Remedial Action Plan Monitoring Act instead of issuing a cleanup order.

LB1102 also authorizes the director to issue a cease and desist order if the director finds that a person has performed any act that presents or may present “substantial” harm to the environment.

Finally, the bill requires the state treasurer to transfer $300,000 from the state general fund to a new cash fund that the department will use to pay cleanup costs and collect recovered funds.

LB1102 passed on a vote of 46-0.

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