PA Governor Tom Corbett issued Executive Order EO2012-11, which requires the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) to immediately begin assessing how best to make timely permitting decisions.
The order establishes a Permit Guarantee Program, in which PADEP will strive to make permitting decisions within established processing times for complete and technically adequate applications.
“One of the biggest complaints I have received over and over again is the time it takes for businesses, non-profit organizations and local governments to work through the permitting process,” Corbett said. “I promised to correct this, and today we are setting the wheels in motion to deliver on that promise. At the same time, PADEP will continue its longstanding mission to protect our environment.
“While PADEP will be working hard to become even more efficient, the new program also must make clear our expectations from those seeking permits. Full and complete applications are necessary for PADEP to be able to make a timely decision without sacrificing their duty and commitment to protect the environment,” Corbett said. “Complete applications mean PADEP can make a sound decision quickly.”
The order also requires PADEP to coordinate the review of applications for projects with multiple permits; establish performance standards for staff engaged in permit reviews; and where possible, develop and improve electronic permitting tools.
The executive order is published on the Office of Administration’s website at www.oa.state.pa.us. On the left toolbar, select “Records & Directives,” then “Executive Orders.”
The PADEP announced that it has reduced rates for Mine Subsidence Insurance (MSI). Such insurance covers losses resulting from abandoned coal or clay mining and from damage caused by the sudden discharge of water that may be contained in a mine void.
The MSI premium for a residence has been reduced by about 15 percent. The premium for a non-residence was reduced by more than 50 percent, so that it now matches residential rates. The maximum coverage available for a single structure is $500,000.
The risks associated with mine subsidence are typically excluded from standard homeowner’s insurance policies. So in 1961, the General Assembly established the MSI Fund to provide a reliable and affordable source of compensation against mine subsidence losses. The cost to repair mine subsidence damage can be very high. While the average loss is $50,000, many claims have been paid in excess of $200,000.
MSI, which PADEP administers, is a non-profit insurance fund sustained by its policyholders’ premiums. It is the largest provider of mine subsidence protection in Pennsylvania. This is the second time the MSI Fund has reduced its premium rates in the past five years, and the fund has never failed to compensate for a valid claim.
All residents who own structures in a mining region are encouraged to visit www.paMSI.org or call 800-922-1678 to check mining conditions and determine whether it is necessary to apply for coverage.To make an informal request for mining information and mine maps, contact PADEP’s California District Mining Office by email at EP-CSR@pa.gov, by phone at 724-769-1100 or by U.S. mail at PADEP, California District Office, 25 Technology Drive, Coal Center, PA 15423.
For more information, visit www.dep.state.ps.us, keyword: MSI.
The PADEP announced it will not enforce a requirement for new gas stations to install costly vapor recovery systems.
Current regulations require facilities in southeast and southwest Pennsylvania to maintain vapor recovery systems, which are attached to gas pump nozzles to siphon off fumes while pumping gasoline.
A notice regarding the issue has been submitted for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
“These so-called Stage II vapor recovery systems must still be operated and maintained at existing facilities until further notice,” PADEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “We will, however, use our discretion to not enforce these requirements for any new gas station in the greater Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas because the diminishing benefits do not justify the cost of installing new systems.”
There are also gas stations in the southeast and southwest regions of the state that could become subject to the rules for the first time because of an increase in their business. Krancer explained that PADEP will use the same discretion to not enforce the mandate for those stations.
Vapor recovery systems are required for about 1,600 gasoline-dispensing facilities in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Delaware, Fayette, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
On July 5, Governor Tom Corbett signed into law Act 135. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-47), amended the Air Pollution Control Act to direct PADEP to review its current compliance strategy of utilizing low Reid Vapor Pressure gasoline during the summer ozone season to comply with federal ozone air quality standards. The law also directs PADEP to seek waivers from this requirement in the event of a fuel supply disruption.
Because recent models of most vehicles include vapor recovery technology in the cars and trucks themselves, USEPA is allowing states that can demonstrate widespread fleet turnover to remove from their State Implementation Plans Stage II vapor recovery requirements for gasoline-dispensing facilities once state regulations are repealed.
EPA issued guidance on Aug. 7 that will help PADEP determine what, if any, additional requirements Pennsylvania will need to implement in order to repeal the Stage II requirements and revise its State Implementation Plan.
“Gas station owners should note that PADEP’s enforcement discretion does not protect an owner or operator from potential legal challenges by third parties,” Krancer said.
For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us or call 717-772-3436.