Earlier this year, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett issued Executive Order 2012-11. This order was aimed towards the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and required the implementation of a Permit Decision Guarantee. The order provided the following steps to achieve the guarantee:
- Assessing how best to make timely permitting decisions;
- Providing clear expectations for applicants to improve the quality of applications;
- Establishing performance measures for review staff; and
- Developing, improving and encouraging electronic permitting tools.
On November 14th, 2012, the Permit Review Process and Permit Decision Guarantee Policy went into effect. This process and policy replaces the Money Back Guarantee policy in place since 1995.
This policy changes a number of things about applying for and obtaining various permits through the DEP. Specifically, the policy applies to 244 specific types of permits including those related to mining operations, oil and gas management, waste, air, radiation, remediation and water management. The policy guarantees a specific time frame for a decision for each permit, given that all requirements of the policy are met.
According to the DEP, the policy:
- Provides certain and predictable review times for applicants who submit complete, technically adequate applications that address all regulatory and statutory requirements;
- Articulates clearly and concisely expectations for applicants that result in complete, technically adequate applications that address all regulatory and statutory requirements;
- Establishes expectations of Department staff aimed at achieving greater efficiency, clarity and consistency across regions and programs;
- Improves the Department’s internal tracking and coordination of permit applications; and,
- Rescinds and replaces the Policy for Implementing the DEP Money-Back Guarantee Permit Review Process 013-2000-001, as amended.
A hierarchy for review was created by the policy which prioritizes certain types of projects for review and eventual permit issuance. During the roundtable held at the DEP last week, many other minor and not so minor changes to the permitting process created by this policy were discussed. Also, concerns and questions about the policy were addressed.
The policy places a large emphasis on ensuring that applications are complete before they are submitted to the DEP. The review process has changed and denial of applications may become more prevalent. Due to the changes to the review process and also the importance of complete and correct applications, utilizing a consultant who understands this new policy is important. Doing so can save time and therefore money, on the permitting process. EES has both the experience and knowledge to aid facilities in obtaining many of the permits that fall under the Permit Decision Guarantee process.