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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: February 5, 2021 10:17 AM
From: Senator Camera Bartolotta
To: All Senate members
Subject: Improving the Permit Appeals Process
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce a two bill package that amends the Environmental Hearing Board Act of 1988. This bill package will be similar to Senate Bills 726 and 727 from the previous legislative session.

Please join me to cosponsor these important measures which are intended to improve the quality of permits issued and the process for appeals through the Environmental Hearing Board in Pennsylvania.

Document #1

Introduced as SB717

Description: The first piece of legislation will provide more clarity regarding permit appeals from decisions made by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). All interested parties will continue to be afforded the opportunity to comment on the permit application and the DEP will review these comments as part of its decision making process. The DEP’s decision to issue or deny the permit will be based on the record developed. The difference now reflected in the legislation is that the standard for review by the Environmental Hearing Board shall be exclusively limited to the record of decision. Presently, appeals from all DEP decisions, including permit decisions, are subject to “de novo” review by the Board. 

As a result of this legislation, the issued permits will be a better crafted product and companies will have confidence knowing their permits have been written to address any substantial, relevant questions pertaining to regulatory criteria raised during the public comment period.

Document #2

Introduced as SB718

Description: The second piece of legislation will shorten the term a judge serves on the Environmental Hearing Board’s membership from six to five years. It will also require judges who desire to stay on for more than one term to be reconfirmed by the Senate after their term expires.

Members to the Environmental Hearing Board were not intended to be lifetime appointments. While the current law states that members should serve six year terms, we have members who are currently serving 25 years. Moreover, these members have not been subject to the reappointment and confirmation process through the Senate. This legislation is about restoring accountability and integrity to the process.