The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) released a statement on September 20th, stating the details of a major reorganization within the agency. The agency plans to return to its core mission of “protecting the environment while improving efficiency and regulatory consistency”.
The PADEP Secretary, Mike Krancer, stated that the decisions made by the agency will be based on facts and sound science. He plans to do this by providing enhanced, unified oversight to the natural gas industry; emphasizing the revitalization of brownfields; providing consistent, predictable decision making; and delivering compliance assistance and pollution prevention education.
“These organizational changes will enhance the department’s ability to protect Pennsylvania’s air, water and land, and also will result in a consistent and predictable regulatory system,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said.
After attending a DEP roundtable myself, featuring a question and answer session with Mike Krancer, this objective seemed a popular topic among attendees. Many participants addressed the subject of inconsistencies and contradictions within the regulatory system.
Some of the specific highlights of the changes that will happen are:
• With the projected growth of the Marcellus Shale and other shale formations and as a reflection of the administration’s emphasis on proper oversight of the Marcellus Shale industry, the Bureau of Oil and Gas Management will elevate to becoming a deputate, which will unify oversight of this industry by Harrisburg-based and regional staff. This will give DEP the ability to better coordinate its permitting, inspection and enforcement efforts.
• A new bureau of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields will be created under the Office of Waste, Air, Radiation and Remediation. This new bureau will house all aspects of site cleanup and will more closely mirror the structure used in environmental cleanup statewide.
• A new Bureau of Conservation and Reclamation will be created to better align the Office of Water Management’s core functions, and others will be realigned. The new bureau will incorporate staff assigned to restoring streams affected by acid mine drainage. By aligning staff assigned to stream restoration, DEP will further improve the Office of Active and Abandoned Mine Operations’ focus.
• A new Office of Pollution Prevention and Energy Assistance will be formed, so that the agency can enhance its efforts to communicate and educate these values and provide know-how, tools and partnering. The reorganization will also create the Office of Program Integration to develop and coordinate the implementation of initiatives, as well as examine and improve program efficiency across the agency.
Implementation of the new structure will take place immediately.