Friday, August 4, 2017

PRC Urges Senate, House, Gov. Wolf To Oppose Budget Bill Changes That Undercut DEP’s Permitting Authority

The PA Resources Council Friday sent a letter to all members of the General Assembly and to Gov. Wolf urging them to oppose provisions contained in the budget-related Tax Code bill-- House Bill 542 (Thomas-D-Philadelphia)-- that would undercut the permitting review authority of the Department of Environmental Protection.
The text of the letter follows--
The Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) joins with our colleagues at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) in opposing provisions contained in the Senate amendments to House Bill 542 which would undercut the permitting review authority of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and severely compromise environmental protections in our state.
PRC concurs with PEC’s assessment of the amendments as stated in its letter dated July 27, 2017. As stated by PEC, these amendments include:
-- Establishing a new, legislatively-appointed review board that has sole authority to disallow air permitting controls for the unconventional gas industry. This provision provides special treatment for one particular industry with respect to environmental law and regulation.
-- Mandate third party review and approval of environmental permits. In more direct terms, effectively ceding a primary component of the state’s responsibility to protect public health and the environment to private interests. There are no provisions made as to assuring the qualifications of these private interests, ensuring the right for public comment, or protecting against self-dealing.
Taken together, these provisions would undermine the authority of DEP professional staff to objectively and independently review and act on permit applications without any conflicts of interest, which is critical to the Commonwealth’s responsibility to protect natural resources guaranteed in the Pennsylvania Constitution.
The complete overhaul of DEP’s permitting program as mandated by these amendments and in this manner is ill advised and should not move forward without thorough review, thoughtful analysis, and robust community and industry engagement.
We urge you to vote against HB 542 as currently amended.
Respectfully submitted,
Bob Jondreau
Executive Director
PA Resources Council
Click Here for a copy of the letter.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Resources Council website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates, follow PRC on Twitter or Like them on Facebook.  Click Here for PRC’s Events Calendar.  Click Here to support their work.
AP: Budget/Staff Cuts Caused DEP Permit Review Problems
Marc Levy of the Associated Press Saturday wrote a story-- Senate Jams Shale Tax, Industry Permits Into Unhappy Package-- that summarizes part of the Senate-passed revenue package dealing with the natural gas severance tax and sweeping changes to all of DEP’s permitting programs.
But at the end of the story, a comment by Dan Weaver, President of the PA Independence Oil and Gas Association, put a spotlight on the key issue behind permit review problems at DEP--
"So tell me how they're supposed to get their permits through on an expedited basis if they have less money and less staff? And here they go and cut their budget further. Doesn't that exacerbate the problem?"
Related Stories:

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner