How Will Corbett's Executive Order Change The Marcellus Permitting Process?
Clarification: this article has been updated to more accurately reflect the substance of the governor’s order.
The AP airs environmentalists’ concerns over Governor Corbett’s recent order directing the Department of Environmental Protection to “strive to process environmentally-protective applications as expeditiously as possible.” George Jugovic, who heads PennFuture, says he’s worried speed will trump safety.
The order, signed July 24, is described as a “Permit Decision Guarantee” for the Department of Environmental Protection. Environmental advocates say the order directs the agency to “consider compliance with the review deadlines a factor in any job performance evaluations” of staff.
“It’s going to put the public health and safety at risk,” said George Jugovic Jr., a former top DEP employee who supervised a staff of more than 200 as the agency’s Southwest regional director. “I think the message is clear. Issuing the permit has a higher priority than doing a fair and thorough job of insuring that the application complies with the law.”
…But DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday said in a statement that Corbett’s new order “will not sacrifice environmental protection.” Sunday said details of the new policy are being developed and the agency will publish them for public comment this month.
The article points out that a recent AP investigation found state regulators spent as little as 35 minutes on each specific drilling permit.