H. 779 passed the House and is in Senate Natural Resources on March 23, 2012. FOVLAP Legislative Update readers should take note that there is an important aspect of the bill that transfers the existing rulemaking authority of the Water Resources Panel of the Natural Resources Board to the Agency of Natural Resources. Specifically, the Agency would now be doing the following rulemaking:

surface water levels of lakes, ponds and reservoirs
water quality classifications
VT Water Quality Standards
surface use of public waters
wetlands rules
rules for management of lakes and ponds (encroachments)

The bill further requires that in addition to the standard public participation requirements in current law (3 V.S.A. chapter 25) and prior to submitting a proposed rule to the secretary of state, the department of environmental conservation must engage in an expanded public participation process with affected stakeholders and other interested persons in a dialogue about intent, method, and outcomes of a proposed rule for the purpose of resolving concerns and differences regarding proposed rules. The department of environmental conservation is encouraged to use workshops, focused work groups, dockets, meetings, or other forms of communication to meet the participation requirements of this bill.

We will let you know if and how this bill changes as it progresses through the Senate.

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