GreenDel Alert 657: House Bill 162: A dishonest bill seeks to weaken Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act

Lots of bills get introduced in the Delaware General Assembly–on the order of one thousand per session.  Some are good, some are bad, some are incomprehensible except to the special interests trying to pull something.

Rarely have I seen a bill as openly dishonest as House Bill 162, “AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 7 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO VESSEL TO VESSEL PETROLEUM TRANSFERS.” ( Http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/LIS145.nsf/vwLegislation/HB+162?Opendocument )

(This bill is about “lightering,” meaning partial unloading of oil tankers into smaller vessels so they ride higher in the water and can go farther up river.  Lightering causes considerable air pollution and other environmental concerns.   According to the DNREC, “Lightering operations represented the largest stationary VOC emission source in Delaware.” )  There’s been a good bit of litigation about it over the years.

The Synopsis of this bill states:  “This act makes a technical change requiring entities conducting vessel to vessel petroleum transfers in the waters of the Delaware River and Bay to obtain a Clean Air Act Title V permit.”

That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

But guess what?   Lightering already requires a Title V permit. ( http://regulations.delaware.gov/AdminCode/title7/1000/1100/1130.shtml#TopOfPage )

Now: look at what the body of the bill actually says:

“(6)  For vessel to vessel petroleum transfers on the waters of the Delaware River and Bay, obtaining a Clean Air Act Title V permit allows an entity to conduct vessel to vessel petroleum transfers, notwithstanding any other provision of Title 7; or”

Guess what?  Title 7 is the main body of Delaware’s environmental laws, including the Coastal Zone Act.

So the real effect of this bill would be to exempt lightering from the Coastal Zone Act, under which lightering is regulated as a “bulk transfer” facility.  Other laws and regulations might also be effected.

The bill’s “Primary Sponsor” is listed as Rep. Mike Mulrooney, Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee.

An “Additional Sponsor” is Sen. Tony DeLuca, Senate Majority Leader.

A “Co-Sponsor” is Senator Liane Sorenson.

Do these three sponsors know what the bill actually says?  One source says HB 162 is being “marketed for sponsorship by Robert Byrd one of Delaware’s most experienced and influential lobbyists.

Underlying this: In effect, only one company Maritrans, based in Tampa, FL, is allowed to lighter in Delaware waters because its predecessors were operating before the Coastal Zone Act was enacted in 1971.  We would not be surprised if some oil interests wanted to break the Maritrans monopoly.  It so, let them propose that openly and honestly.

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