Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5454

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING NINETY-DAY PERMIT TURNAROUND TIMES FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION.

Vote Date:

3/22/2018

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/16/2018

File No.:

Disclaimer: The following Joint Favorable Report is prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and does not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose.

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee

Rep. Larry B. Butler, 72nd Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

The budget passed during the 2017 Special Session included a provision to allow for the automatic approval of certain permit applications to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) if a determination has not been made within ninety days. This provision has the potential of an unintended effect wherein DEEP may deny permit applications should the agency not have sufficient amount of time to review and process the application. The bill seeks to compromise concerns from applicants, in that the application process is too long, and concerns shared by DEEP, that agency requires sufficient time to review and process certain permit applications, by requiring DEEP to notify an applicant of application deficiencies no later than ninety days after the receipt of such application.

Substitute Language – LCO No. 2990:

Substitute language seeks to potentially streamline certain permitting processes through a pilot program by authorizing the use of, no more than two, licensed environmental professionals (LEP). The expense of LEP's shall be recovered by the department through any applicable permit fee for permits expedited by their use.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Robert Klee, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)

Mixed response to the bill. HB 5454 addresses a provision that deems certain permits to be approved by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) if not acted upon within 90 days. This provision raises the possibility that some permits would be automatically and arbitrarily approved without review to ensure that human health and environmental standards are met. While it eliminates arbitrary approval, HB 5454 states that applicants receive timely updates to in-process permits. DEEP already has a continuous improvement process for processing permits.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Louis W. Burch, Connecticut Program Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE)

CCE strongly supports undoing the 90-day automatic permit approval process, to ensure safety and transparency in DEEP's permit application process.

Henry N. Talmage, Executive Director, Connecticut Farm Bureau Association

The Connecticut Farm Bureau Association supports the goal of the ninety-day turnaround and recommend that if the legislature chooses to relax the requirement mentioned in the bill, that the Department be required to provide applicants with a primary contact person with knowledge of the application who can provide regular updates to applicants as to the status of their application and inform the applicants in a timely manner if any further additions or changes are warranted.

Jen Siskind, CT Local Coordinator, Food & Water Watch and two other supporting testimonies

Food & Water Watch respectfully requests the following substitute language:

Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, except where inconsistent with CGS 22a-472 and CGS 7-148,. Because “Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, whether received before, on or after the effective date of this section,” means:

regardless of the current moratoria passed in 2014 (Notwithstanding CGS Section 22a-472)

regardless of Senate Bill 103, if it passes this year (Notwithstanding CGS Section 22a-472)

regardless of local ordinances in 41 cities & towns (Notwithstanding CGS Section 7-148)

...DEEP shall make a final determination (on permits for (3) fill & alternative materials for decking and seawalls, and wastes listed in (4) and (5) of HB5454).

The Environment Committee received two additional testimonies supporting the bill for addressing shortcoming of addressing the permit application process within ninety day period

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Donna Hamzy, Advocacy Manager, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM)

HB 5454 will further slowdown already delayed permit approvals at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The bill requires that the DEEP “make best efforts” when reviewing and making final determinations to certain permits.

Michael Wallace, President, Connecticut Environmental Council (CTEC)

DEEP is unable to adequately enforce existing regulations. CTEC supports a strong DEEP and requests that the General Assembly adequately fund the department to meet the mandates and goals of the department. Members must be able to have licenses and permits processed faster.

Reported by: Steve Smith, Asst. Clerk

Date: 3/23/2018