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December 04, 2016
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PCCD questions new permit process; haste, prioritization and politics at issue

Deluca noted that DEP is “trying to come up with a game plan,” given that the agency will have only 10 days from the date of receipt in which to deem an application administratively and technically complete.

“The devil’s in the details,” said Beecher. “Those are the kinds of things that concern us. To have our technical staff review a plan along with all the administrative details in 10 days is really ambitious.”

Changes to the prioritization process were also cited as potential problems. “Currently, when a plan comes in, it gets put in line for review,” said Beecher. “That’s going to change under this policy. Permittees in Pike County who might have fairly small projects that aren’t considered important in terms of this prioritization that DEP is setting up are going to get lost in the shuffle.

“DEP staff are going to be focused on projects that maybe have some regional importance, that might have higher employment numbers, that may have some political connections that we don’t have in Pike County. We’ve always tried to be fair in reviewing projects in the timeframe in which they come in. Doing it any other way is going to set our staff up for some difficult political situations.”

“It’s going to set me up for some difficult political situations,” said Pike County Commissioner Rich Caridi.
“So we’ve politicized the process. That’s what it amounts to,” said PCCD board treasurer Linda Cioppa.

Beecher said there remain many “unknowns” in the policy. “There are so many things being left to interpretation,” she concluded. “In terms of consistency and fairness and environmental protection, this policy has a lot of concerns.”

In other matters, DeLuca reported that DEP’s four-county enforcement action on Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s 300 Line project is underway. “We’ve been working with PCCD staff to get all of the inspection reports, photos and violations for the Pike County portion,” he said. “I commend your staff and you, Susan, for the way you presented it.” PCCD staff were also praised for their exceptional record-keeping practices, which may be utilized by DEP for training purposes.

The PCCD board of directors also approved John Milliken, Hawley/Mast Hope as a new associate director. PCCD is seeking additional individuals interested in being considered as associate directors. For information, email pikecd@pikepa.org or contact the office at 570/226-8220.