When Decisions Matter.

Still Wondering What’s Hot at DEP? Here’s the Low-Down!

If you missed last week’s program and are still wondering “What’s Hot at DEP?” check out this recap of Chief Counsel Alex Chiaruttini’s presentation.

Chesapeake Bay Strategy

  • DEP is asking the County Conservation Districts to do initial farm visits (100/year) to confirm that the farms have either a Manure Management Plan or a Conservation Plan.
  • DEP sought Conservation District assistance due to DEP’s limited resources. These initial farm visits will likely be limited to determining whether farmers have the necessary plans.
  • Districts were also asked to note any best management practices on site during the visits so that those can be inventoried and counted towards agricultural nutrient reductions.
  • DEP will conduct follow up inspections in counties where that county’s Conservation District declined to participate in the inspection program or where follow up inspections are needed.

Stormwater and MS4s

  • The next phase of permitting will likely include many municipalities that were not originally required to obtain MS4 permits. 2010 Census data is used to make this determination.
  • If an MS4 municipality discharges into waters with a TMDL or impaired waters, the municipality may need to obtain an individual permit.
  • Municipalities will likely have to reduce nutrient and sediment loads 5% over the full 5-year term of the permit.
  • Generally, the same record-keeping requirements apply; DEP will highlight these because of the EPA’s enforcement patterns.
  • Mapping requirements will include outfalls, inlets and pipes.

Environmental Constitutional Amendment

  • The implication of the Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which bestows the right to clean air and water, among other things, is currently being fleshed out in the court system through oil and gas industry litigation.
  • The interpretation of the Environmental Amendment is evolving and future decisions by the courts will likely impact how DEP balances environmental protection with its permitting responsibilities.

Clean Power Plan

  • Even though courts have stayed the Federal Clean Power Plan, Pennsylvania is still working to create and implement its Clean Power Plan. The Commonwealth will not submit its Plan to US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) until and unless the stay is lifted.
  • DEP is meeting with energy industry groups and entities to inform its decisions in creating a plan for the Commonwealth.

Inside DEP

  • Transparency is the goal of the current administration and the agency.
  • DEP’s web content will soon contain more easily accessible information, such as information on how civil penalties are calculated and a list of general permits authorized for use at sites across the state. It is projected that this information will be online some time later this year.
  • DEP is functioning on extremely limited resources due to budget cuts over the last decade. This limitation negatively affects industry because it slows down the permit review process.

Looking for more information? Contact our Environmental Group.

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