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EQB To Consider Proposed Increases In Air Quality, NPDES, Water Quality Permit Fees Dec. 18

EQB To Consider Proposed Increases In Air Quality, NPDES, Water Quality Permit Fees Dec. 18

The Environmental Quality Board is scheduled to meet on December 18 to consider proposed increases to Air Quality permit and NPDES and Water Quality permit fees.  The Board will also be asked to make a change to final non-coaling permit fees at the request of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.

 

Proposed Air Quality Fees

DEP is proposing a total increase of $12.6 million in Air Quality fees for the federal Title V– $5.9 million– and state non-Title V– $6.7 million– permit fees.

 

The proposal includes 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 is 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 Air Quality fee increases since 2005.  Since then, DEP budget cuts have resulted in eliminating 21 percent of its staff or 72 positions.

 

DEP is projecting a $4.359 million deficit in the non-Title V permit account in FY 2019-20 and a zero returning balance in the federal Title V account by FY 2022-23 with the current fee structure.

 

Without the proposed fee increases, DEP would have to cut its Air Quality staff by 30 percent or 80 positions.

 

Failure to adopt proposed fee increases for the federal Title V program will result in action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to penalize Pennsylvania for failure to maintain adequate funding for this federal program.

 

Proposed Water Quality/NPDES Fees

 

DEP is proposing a total increase of $6 million in Chapter 92a NPDES– $5 million– and Chapter 91 Water Quality– $1 million– permit fees.

 

The NPDES permit fee increases would cover approximately 4,000 facilities and the Water Quality permit fees from 500 to 600 applicants annually.

 

Chapter 91 wastewater facility fees have not been increased since 1971 and NPDES permit fees were last increased in 2010.

 

Since 2007, DEP’s Clean Water Program staff has been reduced by 25 percent due to cuts in state General Fund appropriations.

 

DEP believes 25 additional staff are necessary in the Bureau of Clean Water to adequately carry out its responsibilities.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has told DEP several times since 2010 the agency does not have adequate resources to carry out its federally mandated responsibilities for the NPDES Program, including the MS4 Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program.

 

Final Noncoal Mining Fees

 

In response to a concern expressed by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, DEP withdrew the final regulation adopting an increase in noncoal mining permit fees to return it to the Environmental Quality Board to add clarifying language.

 

The IRRC asked DEP to add language to the regulation making it clear the fees adopted in the package do not exceed the cost of administering the program as required by the Noncoal Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act.

 

The language would not change the timing or amount of the phased-in fee increases adopted in the package.

 

Returning the regulation to the EQB to add the clarifying language will delay finalization of the regulation, however, the fee increase was not set to go into effect until January 1, 2020 anyway.

 

Other Agenda Items

 

Also on the agenda are–

 

— Proposed changes required by EPA to requirements for the control of fine particulate matter under the New Source Review Program for nonattainment areas.

 

— Proposed changes to Class A Stream designations for multiple streams in Berks, Cambria, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Schuylkill, Somerset, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wayne counties.

 

The EQB meeting will be held in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson Building starting at 9:00.

 

For more information, visit the Environmental Quality Board webpage.  Questions should be directed to Laura Edinger by calling 717-772-3277 or send email to: ledinger@pa.gov.

 

MEETING AGENDAS/MINUTES/HANDOUTS

December 18, 2018

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