PA Dem Senator Calls for “Study” to Address DEP Permit Delays

A Pennsylvania Senator from Wilkes-Barre, John Yudichak (Democrat) has floated a “memoranda” among his Senate colleagues asking them to join him in sponsoring a resolution (copy below) for an “independent performance review” of the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) and its shale permitting program. Since Tom Wolf assumed office as governor of Pennsylvania in January 2015, the DEP has been in a downward spiral when it comes to the speed with which they approve permits for the Marcellus Shale industry. The DEP has a policy of issuing erosion and sedimentation permits 14 days from the date of application. These types of permits are common and necessary when building roads, well pads, etc. Lately it has taken the DEP 250 days to issue those permits! Permits related to drilling wells are supposed to take no more than 45 days. Those permits now average 93 days. The DEP is hopelessly backlogged–and it’s getting worse. When PA’s traitorous Republican Senate sold out and signed on to a Marcellus Shale severance tax back in July, the Senate also approved (as part of the budget bill) fixes to speed up the permitting process (see PA Senate’s “Olive Branch” of “Relaxed Regulations” for Drillers). Senators included a provision to have third party contractors–people outside of the DEP–review applications at the DEP, including permits for oil and gas drilling, when the DEP can’t review those applications in a timely manner. There’s also a provision that certain permits, like those granted to drillers for sediment and erosion, will automatically be granted if the DEP drags its feet and doesn’t grant the permit by the current, specified deadline (45 days, with a possible 15 day extension). Since DEP can’t seem to fix its own mess, the Republican Senate is willing to “lend a hand” to help them get it done. Democrats are adamantly opposed to the plan. Enter Yudichak and his plan to “study” the situation. This is nothing more than a typical delay and stall tactic. Appear to be addressing the problem when you really aren’t. To which we say–“too much, too little, too late” Sen. Yudichak. Your guy (Wolf) has had nearly three years to fix it and he hasn’t–it’s time to let the Republican legislature get the job done…

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