Promoting county interests, advocating good public policy
and providing education to Idaho's county officials

Environment, Energy & Land Use Committee

The IAC Environment, Energy and Land Use Committee is responsible for all matters relating to the environment, conservation and resource management, solid and hazardous waste management, energy and land use planning.

  • Chair

    Lawrence Schoen
    (Blaine County)

  • Vice Chair

    Dave McGraw
    (Latah County)

  • Staff Liaison

    Kelli Brassfield

Responsibilities

Responsibilities
Statement of Basic Philosophy

The protection of the environment and the wise development of Idaho’s resources are obligations shared by citizens, private enterprise, and government at all levels. It is vital that proper stewardship of both public and private lands be maintained. Because each level of government has responsibilities, joint planning and cost-sharing are essential in developing and implementing environmental and management goals.

Citizens pay for damage to the environment in one form or another either through direct expenditures, tax funded remediation, lawsuits, reduced property values, and higher prices in goods and services. There are also indirect costs to citizens when environmental pollution affects health and economic development. The Idaho Association of Counties believes that county officials should work pro-actively to plan for environmental protection and develop partnerships which encourage cooperation and effective intervention.

Decisions on land use and environmental protection have a direct impact on the quality of life of local residents and their economy. The Idaho Association of Counties believes that land use decisions and environmental policies made at the federal, state, and local levels must be clearly explained, and that local residents have a voice in these decisions as they will bear the greatest burden of the costs. Strategies that encourage and facilitate local participation should be incorporated in policy and plan development and other administrative procedures.

Regulation of commerce and industry is an important component of environmental protection and resource management. Economic policies should promote fair competition while protecting the environment from undesirable byproducts generated by economic activity. Procedures for facility permitting must respect federal and state responsibilities, regional impacts and local concerns.

There is a great variance among counties in local desires, conditions and needs. County financial and administrative resources are limited. Environmental protection strategies need to provide flexibility to enable communities to address local priorities and conditions. County participation in decisions made by other levels of government contributes to a better understanding of the impact of statewide and federal plans and promotes appropriate application to local needs.

Time frames for implementation of programs and regulations must be adequate to enable responsible planning and should recognize a logical sequence in implementing new responsibilities. The establishment of minimum standards is essential to planning to assure adequate protection and reasonable certainty in the investment of public resources. Accountability is needed to assure that fees are reasonable and dedicated to the purpose intended.

Adequate funding is essential to assure that each entity with responsibilities for environmental protection is able to carry out its functions. Any mandates imposed on local governments must be accompanied by sufficient indexed funding and the cost of the mandate should be reasonably ascertained before mandates are imposed.

Energy Resources and Conservation

Energy consumption can result in the depletion of natural resources and can contribute to pollution.  Each alternative for the development of new energy resources has advantages and disadvantages affecting resource depletion, alternative uses, visual impact, pollution, and cost.  Planning and flexibility in project development promote optimum solutions that reduce overall impact and make best use of all resources.

Growing populations have increased the demands on energy resources.  At the same time, land development is preempting many opportunities for siting energy production and transmission facilities and there are greater demands by citizens on the development of new energy projects.  Long-term planning to meet future energy requirements is fundamental to economic viability.  Local government should be involved from the beginning stage of any new energy generation and transmission facility.

IAC supports the encouragement of conservation efforts to reduce energy consumption through private, local, state and federal initiatives.

IAC supports the adoption of the Model Conservation Standards on a voluntary basis at the local level.  IAC also supports a requirement that electric utilities fund energy code enforcement by local governments at a level which covers the costs of inspections required by any mandated energy code.

IAC supports policies and strategies which encourage innovation and development in long term energy production solutions, including, but not limited to, woody-biomass, wind, and geo-thermal.

IAC supports procedures for energy facility and transmission permitting that respect federal and state responsibilities, regional impacts, and local concerns, and maintain siting authority at the local level.

Water Quality

Idaho’s water resources, as one of its most valuable assets, must be protected and preserved. Counties should be given deference, at a minimum to include consultation prior to the implementation of any policy, in determining the necessity and advisability of all water resource and flood control projects proposed by the local, state, or federal government, especially those that propose inter-basin or out-of-state water transfers. Minimum in-stream flows need to be considered in the decision making process. IAC supports the protection of Idaho’s surface water from non-point pollution sources through the full implementation of the 1988 anti-degradation agreement. Adequate funding should be provided to the Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Commission and DEQ to staff the program effectively. Failure to fully safeguard our surface water can have potentially significant effects on our rural economies as natural resource use is limited by declining water quality.

Ground water is an essential resource for Idaho, supplying over 90 percent of the state’s drinking water. Idaho ranks in the top five states in the United States for volume of ground water used, with irrigation the major use.  IAC supports the goal of maintaining the existing high quality of the state’s ground water. Counties must always retain the authority to protect ground water by implementation of local strategies and standards that may be stricter than state or federal standards. The IAC supports the concept of conjunctive management as a tool to manage water resources.

IAC supports county review and comment of projects within floodway and floodplain for conformance to federal guidelines.

IAC supports continued state funding of the water pollution control account. IAC supports flexibility in administering the account to address point, non-point and ground water pollution problems.

IAC supports the allocation of a reasonable share of the costs of water projects to local beneficiaries commensurate with their role in project decision making.

IAC supports the maintenance of the state’s drinking water program at the state level. The technical and monitoring assistance available through the state are critical to the continued safety of the state’s drinking water systems. Monitoring and mitigation of mercury and other harmful compounds must be a priority.

IAC supports continued and increased state funding of monitoring and inspection of water sources to insure water quality.

IAC supports adequate staffing of DEQ and the health districts to provide for waste facility permit review and

facility monitoring. The IAC recognizes the benefit of agency expertise and legislative and executive oversight in this area.

Air Quality

Air pollution in Idaho is increasing as a result of economic development, population growth and sprawl.  Comprehensive region-wide solutions to ozone pollution must be initiated. Pressures resulting from interstate commerce indicate the need for immediate and sustained action to address the current use and development of new waste incineration facilities in the state of Idaho.

IAC supports the requirement that all solid waste, medical waste and hazardous waste incinerators be permitted under standards imposed by the state of Idaho.

Solid Waste Management

Solid waste management requires the cooperation of governmental entities to accomplish the responsibilities of

safe siting, operations and monitoring for landfills and facilities. Diversion of recyclable materials from the waste stream should be a top priority of any facility.

Dumping on public land and the improper or illegal disposal of solid waste results in costly remediation and can be hazardous to the public. Public land agencies which hold public land, business and industry have an interest in providing adequate waste management infrastructure. These entities should share in the cost and responsibility for developing and providing solutions.

Landfills are an essential public service to safeguard the health and environment of the community. Landfill and other waste stream infrastructure is costly and requires long-term planning and commitment. Where solid waste management responsibilities are mandated, county officials need adequate authority to provide control of the waste stream.

Recycling is an essential element in fulfilling the best use and conservation of our natural resources. Responsibility for recycling is shared by all levels of government, industry and the public. Currently, mandatory recycling is not an economically self-sufficient activity for some common materials and therefore counties must have flexibility in implementing any recycling strategies. Recycling alternatives and priorities are local decisions determined by local abilities and needs. Under no circumstances should a landfill permit or county authority to carry out mandated landfill operations be contingent upon unfunded recycling mandates.

IAC supports adequate regulation of landfills and non-municipal solid waste facilities to ensure the protection of the environment and the quality of life of our communities.

IAC supports local control of the disposition of the waste stream and permitting approval of facilities which capture or redirect the waste stream to the extent necessary to address the concerns of the local residents and as  reasonably necessary to carry out mandated responsibilities.

IAC supports incentives to business to encourage recycling and development of new markets for recovered materials, where feasible, as well as strategies to reduce the waste stream, as an alternative first step. IAC also supports planning and cooperation to stabilize the waste stream where industries invest in waste-diverting infrastructure and which are reliant on access to recovered materials.

Land Use Planning

IAC recognizes that comprehensive land use planning and growth management is central to Idaho’s social and economic stability. How we use our land directly affects our ability to accommodate development, protect valuable natural resources, preserve the cultural and historical character of our community, conserve energy, provide necessary facilities and services, and maintain a high quality of life for existing and future residents.

Idaho’s counties should recognize the planning needs of multi-county regions and encourage all governmental units within such regions to cooperate and participate in a comprehensive regional planning process wherever possible. State and federal government agencies should consistently consult with local governments in all matters of public land use policy.

IAC supports negotiated, enforceable “area of city impact” zones as a planning tool for both cities and counties.

Members

Name County
Bill Brown Adams County Commissioner
Mike Paradis Adams County Commissioner
Jared Stein Bannock County Assessor
Radene Barker Bannock County Treasurer
Vaughn Rasmussen Bear Lake County Commissioner
Mark Bair Bingham County Commissioner
Rose Bernal Butte County Commissioner
Tom Dale Canyon County Commissioner
Bryce Somsen Caribou County Commissioner
Dwight Davis Cassia County Assessor
Rick Winkel Clearwater County Commissioner
Cathy Roemer Jerome County Commissioner
Marc Eberlein Kootenai County Commissioner
Mike McDowell Kootenai County Assessor
Mary Ann Heiser Lemhi County Treasurer
Linda Jones Lincoln County Assessor
Rebecca Wood Lincoln County Commissioner
Kimber Ricks Madison County Commissioner
Max Vaughn Minidoka County Assessor
Joe Merrick Owyhee County Commissioner
Kelly Aberasturi Owyhee County Commissioner
Marc Shigeta Payette County Commissioner
Sharon Worley Payette County Commissioner
Bill Willey Valley County Commissioner
Rene LeBlanc Idaho Public Health districts