Legislature Should Focus on DEP Reform
Connecticut’s regulatory climate has long been cited by businesses, small and large, as a key barrier to investing or growing in Connecticut. One state agency frequently mentioned in that regard is the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
DEP’s volumes of highly complex and technical regulations make it nearly impossible for small and midsize industries to achieve perfect compliance. For example, initialing a logbook rather than using a full name can open a company up to significant fines.
Combined with the DEP’s aggressive attitude towards enforcement, this makes it very difficult to promote Connecticut as a “business-friendly” state. The DEP continues to propose new standards and regulations that CBIA believes are overly conservative and reflect too little regard for their negative impact on jobs and our economy.
With Connecticut’s economy struggling to rebound from a serious recession and the state preparing for a new executive administration next year, it’s time for the legislature to take important steps to address aspects of the DEP’s operations that unnecessarily hinder Connecticut's economy.
Specific measures the legislature should take to improve Connecticut’s environmental regulatory climate include:
- Establish a commission to streamline DEP permitting requirements and the structure of Connecticut’s Environmental Protection Act to help create jobs and boost our economy while still protecting our environment.
- Require documents unilaterally issued by DEP that have the force of regulation (such as general permits, water quality standards and certain guidance documents) to be adopted in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. This will ensure adequate scrutiny by the public, other governmental agencies, and the legislature prior to becoming law.
- Place reasonable limits on the time DEP has to review permit applications.
- Require DEP to establish a non-threatening compliance assistance program based on CONN-OSHA’s consultation program.
- Reduce unreasonable DEP fees.
- Require the DEP to conduct reasonable outreach and provide public comment opportunities before committing the state to regional environmental agreements.
- Require the DEP to work with the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering to prepare a report every four years detailing source categories both within and outside the state that contribute most significantly to the pollution of Connecticut’s air, water and lands. This will educate the public, the legislature and the DEP on where limited environmental protection resources should be directed.
For more information, contact Eric Brown at 860-244-1926 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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