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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: September 11, 2017 04:25 PM
From: Senator John T. Yudichak
To: All Senate members
Subject: Resolution – Independent Performance Review of Environmental Permitting Programs

I will soon be introducing a resolution to require the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to conduct an independent performance evaluation of the largest statewide environmental permitting programs administered by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Specifically, this resolution will call for a thorough performance evaluation of DEP’s two largest permitting programs that are administered on a statewide basis and that affect nearly all projects that include construction and development – Chapter 102 permits (Erosion and Sediment Control) and Chapter 105 permits (Water Obstruction and Encroachment).

As you may know, under both state and federal law, DEP is charged with protecting Pennsylvania’s air, land, and waterways from pollution, as well as ensuring the environmental health and safety of residents. A significant part of this mission is carried out through the enforcement of permits for numerous activities that impact our environment, and each year, DEP receives and reviews nearly 30,000 environmental permit applications.

All too frequently, regulated communities have expressed concerns about inconsistency or delays in the DEP’s permitting processes. While they certainly recognize the need for environmental protection, permit applicants maintain that delays result in unnecessary work interruptions and economic losses for both businesses and surrounding communities.

In response, DEP has undertaken efforts to facilitate permitting and improve outcomes – including conducting their own internal reviews and audits to identify program or permit deficiencies.

However, to establish a fair and objective baseline in this debate, it is clear that an independent review of DEP’s permitting programs must be completed. Accordingly, under this resolution, LBFC would consider the efficiency and effectiveness of permitting programs by examining varied outlooks, including resources and workloads (overall and by office), performance levels, policies and procedures, fee and incentive structures, applications and outcomes, input and efforts by DEP and applicants, and best practices. Recommendations for practical legislative solutions would be provided in a report to the Senate within one year.

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Introduced as SR226