State lawmakers speak out about federal mandates affecting small - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

State lawmakers speak out about federal mandates affecting small businesses

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Small business owner Jordan Miller does not like the federal rules requiring him and every restaurant throughout Hamilton County to install a massive grease trap underground. It drained Miller of his entire savings.

"The ordinances and the codes and the permits and the this and the that. It just adds up and adds up and they never stop," says Miller .

Local lawmakers are getting an earful. "My personal opinion of EPA is it's the most out of control agency in the federal government," District 27 State Rep. Richard Floyd says.

He disagrees with a one size fits all approach to federal mandates. "If they've got an adequate catch basin, grease catch basin, that's doing the job why force these people into something like that," says Floyd. 

The City of Chattanooga, however, does not require an underground grease trap at every restaurant, as long as it meets the code and stays clean.

"It may be nothing more than a under the sink collector because they don't deal with a great deal of volume of fats, oils and grease," Chattanooga Public Works Administrator Lee Norris says. "I can assure you call restaurants are required to have a means of collecting fats, oils and grease in their operations."

The WWTA says it too works with businesses. For example, allowing a 500 gallon grease trap to be installed underground instead of a 1000 gallon grease trap.

"Lets say the WWTA just decides to, on it own, let all small businesses off the hook in not putting grease traps underground. The EPA comes in and they, first of all, can federally indict us, file criminal charges against Hamilton County, they can put down a moratorium, meaning no new sewer connections anywhere in Hamilton County," WWTA Attorney Chris Clem says.

"You know, if that's not overkill there's not a cab between her and Texas," Floyd says.

Floyd is ready to go to bat for small businesses but he knows this one is a losing  battle. "There's hardly anything at the State level we can do because of the leverage the EPA has, that has been given to them by Congress," Floyd explains. "You ain't got a chance this side of the city limits of hell changing it through Congress."

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