Friday, May 29, 2015

UPDATED: DEP Revises Policy On Developing Technical Guidance, Invites Comments, Launches New Policy Comment Tool

The Department of Environmental Protection published notice in the May 30 PA Bulletin it has significantly revised a technical guidance describing how it will develop and invite public input into the development of all technical guidance published by the agency.
DEP is soliciting comments on the interim final guidance by July 14.
DEP said the policy has been substantively revised to clarify existing processes for development and publication of technical guidance documents, and to enhance public transparency surrounding this process.
“These revisions enhance the public’s participation in the development of our policies and increases transparency,” Quigley said. “That’s government that works.”
These changes do not affect the current policy for development, approval and distribution of regulations.
Technical Guidance Documents provide practical and specialized direction to DEP staff, the public and the regulated community. They typically:
— Summarize what statues or regulations require;
— Explain how DEP interprets a statue or regulation,
— Explain technical or administrative procedures that assist in compliance with statues or regulations; and
— Establish policies.
Included in the revisions is a new method to submit electronic comments online--  eComment for Policies.
eComment allows for more effective submission of comments by the public and management of those comments by the Department. As part of eComment for Policies, all public comments will be publicly available for view in eComment within 5 business days of their receipt, and will remain available until respective documents are finalized.
“By publishing technical guidance comments as we receive them, anyone interested in a proposed policy will be able to read the comments and concerns raised by others online while the comment period is still open,” DEP Acting Secretary John Quigley said. “This more open and upfront process will lead to more meaningful engagement with the public and result in more effective policies.”
Also included as a revision is establishment of a Non-Regulatory Agenda indicating technical guidance documents and other documents the Department intends to develop on an annual basis to provide additional transparency for the public.  DEP already publishes a similar agenda for regulations.
The policy also expands the role of advisory committees by requiring DEP staff to consult with members of the corresponding advisory committee(s) when developing technical guidance documents and to do so as early in the process as practicable.
Many of the proposed revisions were done in response to comments submitted to the agency by DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council.
DEP will be holding two webinars about the technical guidance changes at 10:00 a.m. June 10 (Click Here to register) and at 2:00 on June 30 (Click Here to register).  
Comments on the revised policy may be submitted through DEP’s new Environmental Policy Comment System.  A copy of the revised policy will be available on the Comment System webpage.

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