The Department of Environmental Protection’s program for reviewing construction-related permits has long been the subject of criticism from the construction, development and environmental communities. With DEP staffing levels at historic lows, the Department’s review of Chapter 102 (Erosion and Sedimentation) and Chapter 105 (Water Obstruction and Encroachment) permit applications has been plagued by delays and complaints of inefficiencies. These two programs account for approximately 6,000 of the 30,000 permit applications that DEP reviews annually.
On February 6, 2018, the Pennsylvania Senate, in an attempt to address these concerns, adopted a bipartisan Resolution requiring the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to do an independent performance evaluation of the Chapter 102 and 105 permit programs (See the Senate Resolution). The report required by the Resolution is intended to provide an analysis of the statewide permitting programs to identify needed improvements that will balance and safeguard environmental protection with economic development and job creation activities. DEP has recently initiated its own independent review of its permitting programs and has taken steps to reduce redundancies and to make better use of staff resources (See the Permitting Reform Whitepaper).