Senate committee unanimously OKs bill to create cooking oil collection program
Published: September 16, 2013
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ST. CROIX - The Senate Energy and Environmental Protection Committee voted unanimously to forward proposed legislation to the Rules and Judiciary Committee that would establish a used cooking oil collection certification program in the territory.
The proposal, discussed Friday during the Senate committee meeting, will authorize the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to establish a Used Oil Collection Certification Program and was sponsored by Sen. Sammuel Sanes.
Sanes said he began working on the bill after he realized that there are people who had been collecting used cooking oil from different places for years so that it could be used to run generators and for fuel and other purposes and because of the lack of proper regulations in place, DPNR officials called for a halt to the practice.
Thomas Tingle, owner of Coconuts on the Beach restaurant in Frederiksted testified in support of the legislation, saying that his business generates about 15 to 20 gallons of used cooking oil on a weekly basis.
Looking at the number of other restaurants that may generate an equal or greater amount of oil, it is a great way to tap in to an alternative energy source, Tingle said.
David Simon, director of environmental protection, said he is in support of the bill, but he pointed out that there has to be a distinction between cooking oil and motor oil, something that did not originally exist in Sanes' draft.
Simon said right now under local law his division already has oversight of the used motor oil program that includes looking at container management, labeling and registering and permitting, but they do not have the money or manpower to establish a similar program that would monitor cooking oil collection permitting.
Kelvin Vidale, general counsel for the V.I. Waste Management Authority, had similar suggestions about the legislation focusing only on cooking oil.
However, he said the Waste Management Authority would only be part of the program is there is a recycling component to it. Waste Management would request an appropriation if there is an on-island recycling component and the authority would seek training only if it is a requirement of the program, according to Vidale.
Vidale said the Waste Management Authority supports the intent of the bill and stands ready to assist in the development of the legislation.
Sen. Diane Capehart said she is concerned that illegal dumping of oil had been ongoing for years, with some businesses freezing oil to get past the dumping regulations and that had to be looked at.
Non-committee member Sen. Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly attended the meeting and said there has to be checks and balances of both the motor oil and cooking oil collection processes. She said logs must be kept to show that the regulated disposals are an equal amount to the oil purchased.
More discussion on the bill will take place in the Rules and Judiciary Committee, and a favorable vote must be given before the full Senate would have an opportunity to vote on the proposed legislation.
Committee members present at Friday's meeting were Capehart, Sanes and Senators Clfford Graham and Craig Barshinger. Senators Donald Cole, Clarence Payne III and Alicia Hansen were absent.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.