Even after receiving a clear signal from the legislature earlier this year that the DEP is not giving sufficient consideration to the economic implications of its policies and procedures, the agency is moving forward trying to finalize several substantial and potentially costly regulations. Within the last eight months, the agency has held hearings on proposals for:
- More than 500 new or revised water quality standards that will negatively impact both permitting and environmental cleanup projects
- A vast expansion of existing state regulations (known as “stream flow” regulations) that will negatively impact the availability, reliability and costs associated with water usage
- New requirements for managing underground storage tank systems
- New regulations concerning the reporting and cleanup of spills (hearing on Oct. 5) that will increase business costs and flood the DEP with thousands of reports of minor spills that pose no measurable risk to the environment.
CBIA, through its Environmental Policies Council (EPC), has conveyed to the DEP that several of these proposals contain aspects that the business community believes it could handle without significant negative economic impact.
For the most part, however, the DEP is advancing the proposals in their more aggressive and economically harmful forms. Representing the business community, the EPC continues to be involved in the DEP’s regulatory process by providing input and expertise as warranted.
The stream flow proposal is scheduled for a vote by the legislature’s Regulations Review Committee on Oct. 26. Comments filed on the underground storage tank proposal are being reviewed by the DEP as it develops a final version for legislative approval. And, the public hearing on spill-reporting regulations is Oct. 5.
As for the proposed changes to water quality standards, the DEP does not need the approval of any other state agency nor the legislature for those decisions to become final.
The legislature corrected this kind of arbitrary process for the future by requiring such standards to be adopted as regulations—a process that involves review and approvals by other state agencies, the attorney general’s Office, the governor and the legislature.
Unfortunately, the new process does not become effective until March 1, 2011. CBIA is urging the DEP to refrain from finalizing these proposals in their current anti-jobs form. Instead, they should take the legislature’s message seriously and seek progress on environmental challenges with greater sensitivity to economic impacts.
For more information, please visit the Environmental Policies Council website or contact Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 or firstname.lastname@example.org.