PA Senate Passes Meaningless Resolution to “Study” Slow DEP Permits

This is what passes for “action” in the swamp of Harrisburg. Over the past couple of years the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has gotten slower and slower in issuing permits for shale drilling–for simple things, like erosion permits a driller needs to push dirt around to create a well pad. The DEP has a policy of issuing erosion and sedimentation permits 14 days from the date of application. As of last summer it was taking the DEP over 250 days to issue those permits (see More Pushback on PA Senate Plan to Fix Slow DEP Permit Reviews). The drilling industry has been loudly pushing for a change. The DEP says it has fewer people on staff and that’s the reason for the slowdown. The thing is, the number of requests for permits has gone down too–so that particular argument doesn’t hold a lot of water. PA House Republicans have introduced a number of bills to “fix” the DEP, not least of which is a bill introduced that allows certified third parties to assist the DEP in reviewing permit applications (see Bill Introduced to Fix PA DEP’s Extreme Delays Issuing Permits). The PA Senate wants in on the “fix DEP” action too. A Senate Democrat, John Yudichak from Wilkes-Barre, proposed a resolution to study the problem (see PA Senate Ctte Sends “Study Slow DEP” Resolution for Full Vote). A resolution to study something is swamp code for “don’t do a darned thing about it.” Yudichak’s meaningless resolution passed the full Senate yesterday. PA Senators can now all pat themselves on the back, pretending they’ve actually done something to address this critical problem when in fact, they’ve done nothing at all…

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