The Department of Environmental Protection says their proposed permit review process will encourage applicants to meet with DEP officials before applying, and is meant to stop wasting employee’s time. DEP Secretary Michael Krancer says that about 40 percent of the permit applications it receives currently, are incomplete.
“Setting the clear expectation that every permit application should be correct and complete the first time is the key to efficiency on both sides,” Krancer said in a release. “We need to free our staff from what amounts to a merry-go-round of reviewing deficient applications; returning them to the applicants; and, essentially, doing applicants’ work to make the applications shipshape.”
Under the new rules, DEP officials could reject permit applications if an applicant fails more than once to complete the process correctly.
Gov. Corbett issued an executive order in July, directing the DEP to reform their review process, and guarantee a time frame by which the permits will be either issued or denied. Corbett said he was responding to complaints from industry about the lengthy permit review process.
But environmentalists worry that the new rules will put pressure on DEP staff to speed things up, and short change environmental and public health concerns. An April investigation by the Associated Press found that state regulators already spent as little as 35 minutes on each specific gas drilling permit.
In a recent op-ed, Secretary Krancer defended the need for updating and expediting the permit review process. Krancer reiterated his position with today’s announcement.
“The Permit Review Process and Decision Guarantee enables our staff to do their main job of concentrating on protecting the environment and making decisions. At the same time, it gives the regulated community a more predictable and efficient permit application review and decision process,” Krancer said. “We encourage the public and all stakeholders to review the draft policies and offer feedback to us.”
The draft permit review process will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin this Saturday, September 1. Public comment will be open until October 1. The DEP will also webcast two information sessions about the draft policies.