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Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20150&cosponId=20229
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: May 13, 2016 10:46 AM
From: Senator Camera Bartolotta
To: All Senate members
Subject: Elevating DEP’s Erosion and Sediment Control Permits
 
In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation that will provide increased certainty in the oil and gas permitting process while ensuring strong and consistent standards that protect our environment and natural resources.

One of the most critical permits necessary for the development of key infrastructure to move Pennsylvania natural gas to market is the erosion and sediment (E&S) control permit. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) created this permit without express statutory authority and requires it before commencement of any earthmoving activity greater than five acres for projects that are not already covered under a comparable federal permit. These permits ensure that a site – whether well pad, compressor or processing facilities or gathering pipelines – is designed, engineered and constructed in a manner that protects the surrounding area from stormwater runoff.

Under DEP’s own established timelines, review of an E&S control permit should take less than 45 business days. DEP also has established an ‘expedited’ E&S control permit process, whereby a permit application is prepared, signed and sealed by a licensed professional (e.g. engineer, geologist) who has undergone formal DEP training. An expedited permit is to be reviewed and issued in 14 business days.

Unfortunately, DEP is not fulfilling its obligation of timely and efficient review of permit applications with great disparities existing among regional offices. In too many cases, permits that are to be reviewed in 14 days are taking in excess of 100 days. These delays and inconsistencies slow development of critical infrastructure projects and discourage our efforts to attract capital investment to Pennsylvania.

To remedy this problem, my legislation would:
  1. Elevate existing DEP E&S control permit obligations into statute, requiring DEP to review permit applications consistent with their current, stated policy. Under this proposal, DEP will still ensure that all existing, applicable environmental safeguards are maintained. To be clear, this will not change the DEP’s current E&S control permit requirements; it will simply take their current policy and put it in statute.
  2. Establish reporting requirements of DEP to the General Assembly to ensure accountability and transparency regarding the number of permits applied for and issued; the review times of applications; and the performance of DEP’s various regional offices in complying with this act.

This legislation sends a strong signal to both DEP and job creators that Pennsylvania is serious about responsibly developing our energy resources, while ensuring that our regulators fulfill their permit review obligations consistently to the furtherance of safe, responsible oil and gas development that protects the environment and natural resources.

For these reasons, I ask you to join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.



Introduced as SB1325