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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesAPPROVAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS IS CRUCIAL

APPROVAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS IS CRUCIAL

Two bills sent to the Senate by Gov. Charles Turnbull Wednesday are crucial to the survival of environmental programs in the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and a third would help keep environmental fines in the territory.
According to DPNR Commissioner Dean Plaskett, two of the bills contain language crafted by his department that update the V.I. air pollution and water pollution control programs. The bills are the result of meetings with the Environmental Protection Agency and are necessary to bring the V.I. into compliance with federal law.
"We’re bringing the local statute up to the level of the federal statute" for the water and air pollution programs, Plaskett said. Without the update, "we could have lost two of our federally funded programs."
Plaskett added that once the bills are passed the territory’s water and air pollution laws will be more stringent than federal standards.
The third bill creates a territorial law that regulates the use of underground storage tanks for fuel and oil. The V.I. currently has no legislation on the books concerning USTs, Plaskett said. Without local laws, UST violations and fines would be administered by the EPA.
"Any fine monies wouldn’t come to the Virgin Islands’ treasury," he said.
And the fines are steep. For example, the V.I. Department of Property and Procurement has 19 USTs. The federal government has mandated that the tanks be removed by Dec. 31.
If these tanks are not removed by the end of the year, the EPA will impose penalties at the rate of $11,000 per tank, per day of each violation, P&P officials have said.
Meanwhile, the EPA has given the government several extensions to get the updated and new laws on the books, Plaskett said. But with the proposals now pending in the Senate, the EPA is satisfied.
"We are currently in our final deadline," he said. "The EPA is no longer interested in taking action."

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Two bills sent to the Senate by Gov. Charles Turnbull Wednesday are crucial to the survival of environmental programs in the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and a third would help keep environmental fines in the territory.
According to DPNR Commissioner Dean Plaskett, two of the bills contain language crafted by his department that update the V.I. air pollution and water pollution control programs. The bills are the result of meetings with the Environmental Protection Agency and are necessary to bring the V.I. into compliance with federal law.
"We’re bringing the local statute up to the level of the federal statute" for the water and air pollution programs, Plaskett said. Without the update, "we could have lost two of our federally funded programs."
Plaskett added that once the bills are passed the territory’s water and air pollution laws will be more stringent than federal standards.
The third bill creates a territorial law that regulates the use of underground storage tanks for fuel and oil. The V.I. currently has no legislation on the books concerning USTs, Plaskett said. Without local laws, UST violations and fines would be administered by the EPA.
"Any fine monies wouldn’t come to the Virgin Islands’ treasury," he said.
And the fines are steep. For example, the V.I. Department of Property and Procurement has 19 USTs. The federal government has mandated that the tanks be removed by Dec. 31.
If these tanks are not removed by the end of the year, the EPA will impose penalties at the rate of $11,000 per tank, per day of each violation, P&P officials have said.
Meanwhile, the EPA has given the government several extensions to get the updated and new laws on the books, Plaskett said. But with the proposals now pending in the Senate, the EPA is satisfied.
"We are currently in our final deadline," he said. "The EPA is no longer interested in taking action."