On June 29 the Independent Regulatory Review Commission formally notified the Environmental Quality Board and the Department of Environmental Protection of its disapproval of a final regulation increasing permit fees for noncoal mining operations.
In its order, the IRRC noted revenues from these fees currently raise about $25,000 a year. Under the final regulation, fee revenue would increase to $2.5 million per year.
“We understand the budgetary problems the Department of Environmental Protection is facing. However, we believe the direct costs to the private sector associated with an immediate fee increase of this magnitude will have an adverse economic impact on the regulated community. For example, has the Department sufficiently considered an incremental fee increase in order to reduce the impact on the noncoal mining industry?
“Further, we remain concerned whether the imposition of these fees to fund the Program constitutes the least burdensome alternative to the industry.
“We have determined this regulation is consistent with the statutory authority of the Board (52 P.S. §§ 3307(a) and 3311(a)) and the intention of the General Assembly. However, after considering all of the other criteria of the Regulatory Review Act discussed above, we find promulgation of this regulation is not in the public interest.”
A copy of the IRRC order is available online.
Within the next 40 days, the Environmental Quality Board must now take one of three actions: decide whether to resubmit the regulation to the IRRC without changes along with a report responding to the concerns of the Commission, withdraw the regulation or take no action.