Thursday, March 23, 2023

DEP Acting Secretary Negrin Wants To Encourage A Culture Of Being User-Friendly At DEP And Used The Train Derailment Response As An Example

In his appearances before the Senate and House Appropriations Committee last week, DEP Acting Secretary Richard Negrin talked about the need to encourage a culture of being “user-friendly” in DEP.

In the Senate he said, “First of all, as I've said to many of you, responsiveness starts with me, right?  I'm here for you.  But we need to take the approach around being user-friendly across the board in DEP. 

“And that goes all the way down to those folks who are showing up and dealing with those folks, and many of which are small operators and family situations where we need to be different in how we approach the public. 

“I've heard stories of us taking a regulator mindset in a way that is incredibly, whether combative is a nice way of putting it, but just harsh.

“And we serve the public. And it's incredibly important for folks to understand who we are from a cultural perspective. And I think that goes across the board.”

Later in the Senate hearing he pointed to a specific example from DEP’s response to the Norfolk Southern train derailment affecting Beaver County and surrounding areas.

Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), Majority Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, prefaced his turn at questions by saying, “I want to start off by first thanking you [Negrin] and your team and the Governor, Secretary Redding [Agriculture] and PEMA [Director] Padfield for all you’ve done in Beaver County with the train wreck.  

“You’ve been there several times for hearings.  You and Secretary Redding are working very closely with the farmers and the residents in the area testing water, testing soil.  You and Secretary Redding will both be there for the long haul.  I know we’ve done a round of soil testing and I know there’s more to come. 

“I just want to thank you for all that right up front.  It’s been a terrible accident, but trying to reassure the residents, the people there and the farmers there, I appreciate all you’ve done and the amount of time you and your staff have put into being there.”

In response to a question from another Senator about his hope to encourage a change in culture at DEP, Acting Secretary Negrin said--

“When Sen. Vogel talks about our response around the derailment, a lot of that has been in large part because of Jim Miller [Director] in the Southwest Region.  Jim has been extraordinary. 

“A lot of folks don't know that when we were talking about having that conversation around the one or two mile radius and testing private wells for the first time, which is not something we normally regulate, but the governor decided to do, obviously because this was an extraordinary event. 

“Jim Miller specifically called every single person within that two mile radius [in Pennsylvania] to tell them what we were doing and how we were going to do it.

“And in many instances, you wouldn't think it would be this way, but the fact that it was him, a representative of DEP, who was the first to contact many of those people. 

“They had not heard from anyone until they heard from us. Shouldn't be that way, but that's the way it was. 

“We need to have that level of service in response in everything we do.”

Resource Links:

-- Click Here for DCNR’s written budget testimony.

-- DCNR Posts FY 2023-24 Budget Proposal Documents

-- Click Here for a copy of DEP’s Budget Testimony.

-- 10 Point Plan For Improving Permit Review Efficiency

-- DEP Posts Documents On Proposed FY 2023-24 Agency Budget Request

-- Click Here for a copy of the expanded Proposed Budget In Brief.

-- Click Here for Gov. Shapiro’s Budget Address as prepared.

-- Click Here for a video of the House Budget Hearing.

-- Senate Budget Hearing Videos + Written Testimony

Related Articles - Train Derailment:

-- The Center Square - Anthony Hennen: Rebuilding Public Trust After The Train Derailment Starts From The Ground Up

-- The Center Square - Anthony Hennen: Western PA Residents Want More Testing- And Attention-- After Train Derailment

-- Shapiro Administration Announces Long-Term Presence In Beaver County To Assist Residents Affected By Norfolk Southern Train Derailment  [PaEN]

-- PA Senate Hearing: Norfolk Southern CEO - Ignition Of Rail Cars Following Ohio Trainwreck Was A 'Success' ?  [PaEN]

Related Articles This Week - Budget:

-- DEP Offers 10 Point Plan To Improve Permit Reviews; Climate/Energy Work Group Co-Chairs Announced; Work Group Formed To Prevent New Oil & Gas Well Abandonments  [PaEN]

-- House Budget Hearing: Acting DEP Secretary Outlines His Views On Environmental Justice, Announces Fernando TreviƱo As Special Deputy For Environmental Justice  [PaEN]

-- DEP Acting Secretary Negrin Wants To Encourage A Culture Of Being User-Friendly At DEP And Used The Train Derailment Response As An Example  [PaEN]  

-- DEP Projects Over $1.5 Million Deficit In Account Funding Oil & Gas Regulation Program In FY 2023-24  [PaEN]

-- DEP Budget Testimony: Increasing Permitting Efficiency, Cleaning Up Legacy Pollution, Investing In Communities, Holding Companies Accountable  [PaEN]

-- Senate Republicans Again Suggest DCNR Allow More Natural Gas Drilling To Fund Park/Forest Operations; New Hellbender License Plate Coming In June  [PaEN]

-- DCNR Budget Testimony: Supporting PA’s Outdoor Recreation Industry, Conserving Natural Resources [PaEN]

-- Agriculture Budget Testimony: Budget Proposal Supports Agriculture Economy; Land & Water Stewardship; Organic Farming; Helps Deal With Threats To Food System  [PaEN]

-- Budget Refresher: Hearings Start March 21 For DCNR, DEP, Agriculture FY 2023-24 Budget Requests

[Posted: March 23, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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