Tuesday, March 28, 2017

DEP’s Existing Online What Permit Do I Need Tool? Much Better Than Proposed Bill

Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Allegheny) introduced House Bill 1003 Monday requiring DEP to list all its permits in the PA Bulletin and online as a way to “streamline” DEP permitting (sponsor summary).  
“DEP has promulgated a wide variety of permits that applicants must apply for and be granted before initiating projects. However, there is NO single compendium of any and all permits available under the DEP,” said Rep. Ortitay in his co-sponsor memo.  “We contend that there should be a single location in The Pennsylvania Bulletin that outlines each and every permit available under DEP and that the information should also contain the timelines set to secure these permits and the statutory and regulatory authority for each of these permits.
“This information should also be set forth in a navigable, easy to use DEP website,” explained Rep. Ortitay.  “We direct DEP to compile, organize and list all of these permits, along with relevant timelines and proper statutory and regulatory authority.”
Actually, DEP already has a much better approach to this issue than simply listing its permits because it answers the right question-- “What Environmental Permits Do I Need For My Project?” without the additional cost of printing hundreds of pages in the PA Bulletin as Rep. Ortitay proposed.
DEP’s existing online DEP Permit Application Consultation Tool leads potential permit applicants through a series of questions to answer the question-- What Environmental Permits Do I Need For My Project?
In fact, this language from DEP’s online tool looks very much like the language in the bill introduced by Rep. Ortitay--
“After starting the tool, the user will be presented with a series of questions about their project. Based on those responses, the tool will generate a report that provides further information on permits, authorizations, or notifications that may be necessary. The report will also provide references that can be consulted for further information about the applicability of identified requirements, as well as links to application forms and relevant instructions.”
The DEP tool, however, goes one step further, “Once the results have been reviewed, the department encourages the user to schedule a pre-application conference. To assist in this process, the tool will automatically be forwarded the report to the appropriate Assistant Regional Director (ARD) or District Mining Office (DMO).”
Perhaps a better approach might be to give DEP more funding to make its existing tool better rather than make the PA Bulletin hundreds of pages longer.
For more information, visit DEP’s DEP Permit Application Consultation Tool webpage.

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