Purpose of Notice: The Department of Environmental Quality has scheduled a public meeting and informal public comment period to receive comment on the draft Uniform Environmental Covenants Act (UECA) Regulation, 9VAC15-80.
Date and Location of Public Meeting: May 2, 2011, at 1:00 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Conference Room of the Department of Environmental Quality Office located at 629 East Main Street in Richmond, Virginia 23219.
Dates of Informal Public Comment Period: April 15 to May 20, 2011. Written comments may be submitted until 11:59 p.m. on May 20 to the staff contact listed below.
Background: The Department of Environmental Quality is in the process of adopting a regulation to implement the Virginia Uniform Environmental Covenants Act (UECA). During the 2010 legislative session, the Virginia General Assembly passed SB 686 (Acts of Assembly Chapter 691), which directs the Department to implement, by regulation or other measures, the Uniform Environmental Covenants Act (UECA). According to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law (NCCUSL), an environmental covenant is generally a servitude arising under an environmental response project that imposes activity and use limitations on future use of a contaminated real property. NCCUSL asserts that environmental covenants ensure public notice of these limitations, enhance enforcement of the limitations, and facilitate return of the sites to productive use.
According to Virginia’s UECA statute, the actions of the Department of Environmental Quality relating to the adoption of regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this act are exempt from the provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq. of the Code of Virginia). However, the Department is required to provide an opportunity for public comment on any such regulations prior to their adoption. The public meeting and informal public comment period announced herein are designed to provide this opportunity.
In June 2010, the Department issued a Notice of Opportunity to Express Interest in Implementation of Uniform Environmental Covenants Act (UECA). Based on responses to this Notice, the Department established a list of interested persons who could be asked to review the subject legislation and draft regulation and provide input to the Department on how parties may utilize an environmental covenant, provisions of a model covenant template, fees, and other UECA issues. In addition to publication of this Notice in the Regulatory Town Hall, persons who responded to the June 2010 Notice are also receiving individual copies of the Notice and draft UECA regulation by electronic mail.
The Department has been working to develop the draft UECA regulation since the summer of 2010. Department staff has consulted with parties who participated in the 2010 Virginia legislative process, staff of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region III, officials in other states who have already implemented UECA, staff and commissioners at NCCUSL (including the chief author of the model UECA statute), attorneys with the Department of Defense, and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General.
The results of the Department’s work and consultations appear in the draft UECA regulation, which includes a draft Virginia UECA Template. The draft UECA regulation and this Notice are posted on the Department’s website at www.deq.virginia.gov
Public Comment: Prior to final action on the regulation, the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality will receive and consider staff’s summary and response to comments that are submitted by members of the public on the draft UECA regulation. Although members of the public are welcome to submit comments at the public meeting on May 2, staff envisions the May 2 meeting as an opportunity to present and explain the draft regulation to meeting attendees, to answer questions, and to facilitate discussion of the draft proposal. Meeting attendees are encouraged to reiterate any oral comments they make at the public meeting in a written submission. Written comments are welcome from any member of the public during the informal public comment period until its close on May 20, 2011.
Final Decision: The Director's final decision on the adoption of the regulation will occur at some time after the close of the informal public comment period, and the decision, along with the final regulation, will be published in the Virginia Register of Regulations and posted on the Department’s website.