Corbett Signs Order for More Timely Environmental Permits

Published October 11, 2012

Pennsylvania environmental permits will be issued in a timelier manner after Gov. Tom Corbett signed an Executive Order speeding up the environmental permit process. 

Corbett’s order requires the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to immediately begin assessing how best to make timely environmental permitting decisions. The order also establishes a Permit Guarantee Program, setting timeliness goals for DEP permitting decisions.

Promise Kept

“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 in a press statement. “I promised to correct this, and today we are setting the wheels in motion to deliver on that promise. At the same time, DEP will continue its longstanding mission to protect our environment.”

Environment, Economy Benefit

“We are very excited about the governor’s executive order,” said Patrick Henderson, the energy executive for the office of Gov. Corbett. “It signals an understanding that timely permit decisions are important to protecting the environment while growing economic opportunities. Moreover, given that many permits received by DEP are from nonprofits and local governments with limited resources themselves, it will translate into a more efficient investment and use of their time and financial resources as well.”

Corbett’s order replaces a 1995 executive order establishing a money-back-guarantee for permit fees on applications DEP does not complete in time.

Henderson said the order will benefit the agency and the regulated community.  

“We believe the executive order will bring increased certainty and predictability to the permit review process; raise the quality of applications that are being submitted to DEP for review; establish expectations of both the permit applicants and DEP personnel; and translate into a more efficient use of government resources while ensuring that DEP’s core mission of environmental protection is enhanced,” he said.

The order also requires DEP to coordinate the review of multiple permits for a single project, establish performance standards for staff responsible for permit reviews, and develop and improve electronic permitting tools.

Efficiency and Environmental Protection

“We have always supported efforts to ensure and expand efficiency in our permitting processes,” said Jonathan Lutz, executive director of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. “Long, cumbersome permit reviews and approvals delay projects and ultimately add additional costs to our business and local governments that strain job creation and waste tax dollars. In this regard, we look forward to the final approval and implementation of DEP’s Permit Review Process and Decision Guarantee and Permit Coordination policies under Governor Corbett’s Executive Order.”

“The program is designed to make permitting more efficient through a more effective process and not by sidestepping our environmental protections,” Lutz explained. 

Alyssa Carducci ([email protected]) writes from Tampa, Florida.