Monday, April 30, 2018

Proposed Bills Call For Narrowing Grounds For Appealing DEP Permits, Reducing Terms Of Environmental Hearing Board Judges

Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington) Monday circulated a co-sponsor memo to her colleagues asking them to sponsor two bills, one to narrow the grounds for appealing a permit issued by DEP and the second to reduce the number of years Environmental Hearing Board judges can serve.
“The DEP’s decision to issue or deny the permit will be based on the record developed,” said Sen. Bartolotta.  “The difference now reflected in the legislation is that the standard for review by the Environmental Hearing Board shall be exclusively limited to the record of decision. Presently, appeals from all DEP decisions, including permit decisions, are subject to “de novo” [from the beginning] review by the Environmental Hearing Board.
“As a result of this legislation, the issued permits will be a better crafted product and companies will have confidence knowing their permits have been written to address any substantial, relevant questions pertaining to regulatory criteria raised during the public comment period,” said Sen. Bartolotta. “All interested parties will continue to be afforded the opportunity to comment on the permit application and the DEP will review these comments as part of its decision making process.”
[Note: Presently, there is no artificial limit on the information individuals and businesses can independently raise in appealing DEP permits, if they believe it is relevant.  
[Recall that appeals only come after any potential appellants see the final permit issued by DEP with any conditions which may or may not address issues raised during any public comment process.  
[The final permit and conditions may also raise new issues not covered in the original permit subject to a comment period.]
“The second piece of legislation will shorten the term period a judge serves on the Environmental Hearing Board’s membership from six to five years,” said Sen. Bartolotta.  “It also restricts judges from serving more than two terms unless they began by filling in for a vacancy on the bench.
“The term of any member of the board who, as of the effective date of this section, has served more than ten years on the board, will expire at the end of his/her current term.”
[Note: Presently EHB judges need to be renominated and confirmed by the Senate every six years as required by the Environmental Hearing Board Act.]
Click Here for a copy of the co-sponsor memo.

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