The Environmental Quality Council (EQC) is a 17-member public body appointed by the Governor to represent specific interests and adopt regulations that are then administered by the NDEQ. Members are appointed to serve staggered 4-year terms. The EQC meets at least two times per year and holds public hearings on proposed regulations.
Environmental Quality Council Members
Draft and proposed rules and regulations to be considered by the Environmental Quality Council
Testifying at EQC Public Hearings
In addition to seeking comments from the public during the development of regulations, the NDEQ and EQC formally solicit comments from the public at public hearings on proposed regulations. The Nebraska Administrative Procedures Act governs these public hearings. Notice of the time, place, and subject matter of the hearing is published in a newspaper of general circulation in the State. The Secretary of State also maintains a docket on its web page for pending regulatory proceedings.
The public can offer comments at a public hearing in either of two ways. Neither way is exclusive and a person can do both. One way is by submitting comments in writing to the individual designated in the public notice to receive comments, usually the hearing officer. These written comments are provided to EQC members, marked as hearing exhibits and entered into the hearing record.
A second way to offer comments is by appearing and testifying in person at the EQC hearing. The EQC hearings are recorded, usually by a court reporter. Frequently, a testifier will also have prepared a written summary of his or her remarks or wish to have additional information made part of the hearing record. Any written statement and additional information provided to the hearing officer are marked as exhibits and entered into the hearing record. The NDEQ recommends that any person wishing to submit written materials at the public hearing bring 25 copies and hand them to the hearing officer for distribution to EQC members.
Rules and Regulations
Final rules and regulations that have been adopted by the EQC, approved by the Attorney General and the Governor, and filed with the Secretary of State.
The Nebraska Legislature created the Environmental Quality Council in 1971 as the public body that adopts rules and regulations for the Department of Environmental Quality to administer. The Council consists of 17 members who are appointed by the Governor to serve staggered four-year terms. Council members are appointed to represent the following: food products manufacturing, conservation, agricultural processing, the automotive or petroleum industries, chemical industry, heavy industry, power generating industry, livestock industry, crop production, labor, county government, municipal government (two members, one from a city other than primary or metropolitan class), one member who is a professional engineer with experience in control of air and water pollution and solid wastes, one member who is a physician knowledgeable in the health aspects of air, water, and land pollution, one representative of minority populations, and one biologist. Appointments require the advice and consent of the Legislature.
The Council holds at least two regular meetings a year. The time and place of each meeting, together with an agenda and a description of proposed regulations and other actions to be considered, are public noticed in accordance with the Nebraska Administrative Procedure Act and posted on the agency webpage. The council conducts public hearings on proposed regulations and other actions to receive public input through testimony and written comments prior to making a final decision. Council meetings are open meetings and a recording of the proceedings and minutes of each meeting are made, all of which are public records. The Council considers proposals from the Department to adopt, amend, or repeal regulations and may also consider rulemaking petitions initiated by citizens.
The Nebraska Legislature has delegated authority to the Council to adopt regulations on a broad range of environmental subjects to carry out the intent of the Legislature and the purpose of specific legislative Acts. The Council has, for example, adopted standards applicable to air, water, and land quality to protect public health and welfare. In addition, the Council has adopted regulations that govern various environmental programs, practices, and procedures related to permitting sources that have the potential to discharge or emit pollutants to the environment.
Finally, the Council serves an important role in the selection of the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality. The Council submits a list of candidates to the Governor from which the Governor shall appoint a director who shall be experienced in air, water, and land pollution control. The Director is responsible for administration of the Department and the rules and regulations adopted by the Council.