EQB Approves Final Air Quality Fee Increase, Proposed Revisions To Chapter 105 Permitting Regs
On July 21, the Environmental Quality Board approved the final regulation increasing Air Quality Program permit fees and proposed changes to the Chapter 105 Waterways Management Permitting Program.
The Board also accepted a rulemaking petition for study asking the EQB to consider upgrading Tom Creek Watershed in Adams County from High Quality to Exceptional Value stream classification.
Air Quality Fees
DEP started development of this fee package in December of 2017 and the EQB originally proposed the Air Quality fee increase package in December of 2018. The state Air Pollution Control Act requires DEP to adopt fees to cover the cost of the program.
The final regulation would increase fees to generate $13 million annually to support the program– for the federal Title V and state non-Title V permit fees.
The proposal included a new annual maintenance fee for both kinds of permits, a new fee for asbestos notifications and an increase in the existing operating permit fees.
There was no proposed increase of the Title V per ton emission fee, beyond the annual increase based on the Consumer Price Index.
These are the first general Air Quality fee increases since 2013. DEP budget cuts have resulted in eliminating more than 30 percent of its staff or about 100 positions.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), Majority Chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said he would be asking his Committee to recommend the Independent Regulatory Review Commission disapprove the regulation like he did in June of last year. Read more here.
He said with the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 shutdown, this is no time to raise permit fees.
Krish Ramamurthy, Deputy Secretary for Waste, Air, Radiation and Remediation, said the federal Clean Air Act requires DEP to have resources sufficient to pay for the program. In addition, just because the emissions are down does not significantly reduce DEP’s workload for this program.
He added Air Quality staff has been reduced by more than 65 positions.
Ramamurthy also pointed out DEP did not change the per ton emission fees in this proposal.
Rep. Metcalfe and Mark Caskey, a member of DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council, voted against the regulation.
The regulation is now subject to further review by the Senate and House environmental committees and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
The Chapter 105 permit is one of the most basic permits all development must have in the state and the proposed revisions are designed to provide additional waivers, focus on the most important activities and threats to the environment and health and flexibility in meeting those requirements.
DEP’s Chapter 105 regulations have not been substantially revised since 1991.
Among the changes proposed are–
— Additional Permit Waivers for streambank fencing, passive non-motorized recreation, elevated boardwalks in wetlands for educational purpose and trails, emergency water withdrawal, temporary mats and pads in wetlands and temporary environmental testing;
— Updates Provisions Related to stormwater and floodplain management;
— Adds alternatives analysis description;
— Updates mitigation plan terms;
— Adds antidegradation demonstration;
— Clarifies impacts and cumulative impacts analysis;
— Adds provisions for enrollment to the Private Dam Financial Assurance Program;
— Provides new criteria for aquatic resource restoration activities;
— Revises provisions related to compensation for impacts to aquatic resources and no net loss of wetlands;
— Revises siting criteria for consistence with mitigation banking, in lieu fee and permittee compensation;
— Changes provisions related to the removal of dams and abandonment of water obstructions; and
— Clarifies flood design criteria.
Click Here for a summary of the changes. The regulation will be put out for public comment in the coming months in addition to review by the Senate and House environmental committees and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
Note: The August meeting of the EQB meeting is canceled. The next meeting is scheduled for September 15 where the Board will consider proposed regulations reducing carbon pollution from power plants and joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
[Note: Laura Edinger announced she will be leaving DEP for another position and this is her last meeting as Regulatory Coordinator.]