In an opinion piece posted on the Pennsylvania Environmental Daily blog, DEP Secretary Michael Krancer says the current system of permit reviews is encumbered by bureaucracy and needs reform. Krancer defends his Department’s plan to change the review process, as directed by Gov. Corbett through an executive order issued in July.
In doing so, Corbett said he was responding to complaints about the lengthy permit review process. But environmentalists worry that speeding things up would short change environmental and public health concerns. An April investigation by the Associated Press found that state regulators spent as little as 35 minutes on each specific gas drilling permit.
In the editorial, Krancer says 40 percent of the applications submitted to DEP are deficient.
“Often, DEP permit review personnel spent much time doing the work for applicants to get their applications to the “complete” stage. That process caused frustration internally and externally and, importantly, wastes the time of DEP personnel and the public we serve.”
Krancer says the new system will allow DEP employees to spend more time reviewing the quality of the applications and protecting the environment. He says the draft permit review process will comply with these four principles.
– Complete and quality permit applications are crucial to DEP’s ability to guarantee a timely decision;
– Every full and complete permit application will receive a thorough review in an efficient manner;
– DEP will not issue any permit that does not meet all legal and statutory requirements to protect the environment and public health and safety; and
– DEP will make decisions based on the law, facts and sound science.
Once complete, the draft will be open to public comment.