An executive order (EO) issued by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday requires the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to immediately start looking for ways to speed up the permit process for applications to drill.
EO2012-11establishes the Permit Guarantee Program, which calls for the DEP to set up clear guidelines for permit application requirements.
“One of the biggest complaints I have received over and over again is the time it takes for businesses, nonprofit organizations and local governments to work through the permitting process,” Corbett said. “I promised to correct this, and today we are setting the wheels in motion to deliver on that promise…”
The new program also calls for the DEP to set a predictable processing time for each application and to expedite applications designed to protect the environment. Permit applications that are “complete and technically adequate” would be eligible for the program, with the processing time considered as the total number of business days from the receipt of an application to action by the department.
“While DEP will be working hard to become even more efficient, the new program also must make clear our expectations from those seeking permits,” Corbett said. “Full and complete applications are necessary for DEP to be able to make a timely decision without sacrificing their duty and commitment to protect the environment. Complete applications mean DEP can make a sound decision quickly.”
The order also requires DEP to coordinate the review of applications for projects with multiple permits, establish performance standards for staff engaged in permit reviews and consider compliance with the review deadlines a factor in any job performance evaluations. The department also would have to improve or develop, wherever possible, automated information, notification and permitting tools.
Corbett’s order rescinded a measure issued by former Gov. Tom Ridge in August 1995 (EO1995-5) that established the DEP’s Money-Back Guarantee Permit Review Program.
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