Gov. Wolf Friday announced the Department of Environmental Protection has launched an electronic mining permit application for surface coal mines that will make the permit review process faster for DEP and operators and provide more transparency to the public.
“The new e-permit process allows the department to better respond to business needs by streamlining steps and eliminating redundancies in the permitting process,” said Gov. Wolf. “Additionally, the online process delivers an increased level of transparency for Pennsylvania citizens with easier access for public comment.”
The new e-permit will apply to surface bituminous coal operators applying for new operating permits, and for the first time allows operators to pay permit fees online.
“Shifting our permitting from a pen and paper application to an online process is a critical step in making DEP a more efficient and streamlined agency,” said Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “It also improves the public accessibility of data, as permit applications will be available online rather than in district mining offices.”
The mining e-permit application includes an electronic public report that allows citizens and other agencies to review and comment on an application via a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Currently, citizens must visit a district mining office or local conservation district to review paper applications and provide their comments by mail or email.
The mining e-permit application is DEP’s first step in shifting agency-wide permitting from paper to online applications, part of a major campaign to modernize technology at DEP that launched in January 2016.
The e-permit was developed by both the DEP Mining Program and Bureau of Information Technology, with input from industry partners.Following a training webinar on February 10, the e-permit application for bituminous surface mine operators launched on February 13. Continued industry input on the application will inform planned future upgrades.