House Environmental Committee Meets April 16 To Consider Bill Authorizing The General Assembly To Kill Regulations By Doing Nothing

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to meet April 16 on a series of bills making fundamental changes to the way regulations are adopted, permits are reviewed and authorizing the arbitrary waiving of penalties and fines.

One bill-- House Bill 806-- would authorize the House and Senate to kill an “economically significant” final regulation of any agency by doing nothing.

Also on the agenda are bills the Committee did not consider last week on setting deadlines on reviews of erosion and sedimentation permits if they were submitted by a registered  engineer and requiring DEP to forward waste violation notices to municipalities.

The bills include--

-- Kill Regulations By Doing Nothing: House Bill 806 (Keefer-R-York) would authorize the General Assembly to kill an economically significant final regulation by doing nothing.  It would require all final regulations with an estimated economic impact of $1 million or more to be submitted to the General Assembly for a vote by concurrent resolution.  If the House and/or Senate fail to take action to approve the final regulation, the regulation is deemed not approved and the regulation shall not take effect.(The sponsor summary inadequately describes the content of this bill.)

-- Repeal Any Regulation At Any Time: House Bill 430 (Benninghoff-R-Mifflin) authorizes the General Assembly to repeal any regulation at any time by concurrent resolution, with review by the Governor (sponsor summary).

-- Require Third Party Permit Reviews: House Bill 509 (Rothman-R-Cumberland) requires all state agencies to establish a new bureaucracy in the form of third party permit review programs that delegate decision-making authority to persons other than the public agency with the legal authority to make those decisions with no conflict of interest or other protections for the public or applicants.  (The sponsor summary inadequately describes the content of this bill.)

-- Waiving Penalties/Providing Defenses To Violators: House Bill 762 (O’Neal-R- Washington) requires all state agencies to establish a new bureaucracy in the form of a Regulatory Compliance Officer with no oversight of any kind giving him the ability to issue an opinion on what any person’s obligations are under the laws administered by that state agencies which can be used as a “complete defense” against any enforcement proceeding.  The Officer can also review any fine or penalty issued by the agency before it is imposed and waive that penalty if the person being penalized “has taken or will take [steps] to remedy the violation.”  (The sponsor summary inadequately describes the scope and content of this bill.)

-- Erosion & Sedimentation Permits: House Bill 414 (Zimmerman-R-Lancaster) requiring an erosion and sedimentation permit application submitted to DEP or conservation districts  “shall be approved within 20 days of receipt”  if it was submitted by a state licensed engineer.  If an application is denied, the agency shall notify the applicant why it was denied (sponsor summary). 

[Note: Almost all erosion and sedimentation control permits are submitted by engineers presently.  DEP studies of erosion and encroachment permits outside of oil and gas program found 80 percent of the applications were not complete and 30 percent had technical deficiencies in 2016. 

[A DEP review of erosion and sedimentation permits related to oil and gas operations found 60 percent of the applications were incomplete or had technical deficiencies in 2017. 

[Since these reports, DEP has worked with the consulting community to improve the applications they submit and has taken steps toward converting to electronic permit submissions to cut down on the number of incomplete and deficient applications received by DEP from engineers.]

-- Notice Of Violations To Municipalities: House Bill 476 (Mako-R-Northampton) amends the Solid Waste Management Act to require DEP to forward notices of noncompliance issued by the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) for violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and a notice of noncompliance for violation of the SWMA to the municipality where the violation occurred (sponsor summary).

The meeting will be held in Room B-31 of the Main Capitol at the Call of The Chair after the first session break of the day.  Click Here to watch the meeting online.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-783-1707 or sending email to: Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7647 or sending email to:

[Posted: April 12, 2019]


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