House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Holds Hearing on Erosion and Sediment Control Permits

The committee held a hearing May 1 on erosion and sedimentation (E&S) permits.

Chairman Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) opened the meeting by stating that the testifiers would present information regarding processing times for E&S permits.

Brenda Shambaugh, executive director for the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. (PACD), stated that the association represents all 66 conservation districts across Pennsylvania. She explained that each district is led by a volunteer board which identified local conservation needs so the districts can continue to assist the counties with natural resource projects. Shambaugh outlined the process regarding E&S control. She stated that conservation districts may enter into a delegation agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for administering E&S control, construction stormwater management (PCSM), and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) programs, including agricultural E&S projects. She said that there are three levels of responsibility. Shambaugh indicated that level one applies to one conservation district which provides education and outreach services, provides DEP with quarterly reports, and refers complaints to DEP within eight days of receipt. Level two applies to 54 districts which perform level one duties, and reviews and processes applications for new or renewed general or individual NPDES permits associated with construction activities involving one or more acres of earth disturbance. Shambaugh explained that level two districts conduct completeness reviews for individual and general NPDES permits within 15 business days of receipt, and the applicant is notified of the completeness review assessment. She explained that once the application is found to be complete, an initial E&S technical review is performed. She stated that for general NPDES permits, the technical review is completed within 22 business days, and for individual NPDES permits, the technical review is completed within 47 business days. Shambaugh explained that the district then notifies the regional DEP office of permit coverage or technical deficiencies within this timeframe. She said that revised applications are reviewed within 15 days of resubmission for general NPDES permits and 22 days for individual NPDES permits. She stated that the next stage of review is the elevated review process, which is 15 business days if deficiencies still exist. Shambaugh explained that the total processing times for a permit without deficiencies is 107 days.

Shambaugh stated that there are 11 level three conservation districts which perform all level one and two responsibilities.

Vincent McCollum, assistant manager, Cumberland County Conservation District, opined that PACD believes that over half of the E&S/NPDES plans submitted regularly to the conservation districts are administratively incomplete. He expressed his belief that consultants and engineers do not routinely provide plans and drawings that contain sufficient information to perform a technical review of the application. He explained that in preparation for a recent meeting with the House Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, he compiled some data. McCollum stated that for an 18-month period in 2017 and 2018, his office performed a completeness review on an average of 8.7 business days for general permits and 8.1 days for individual permits. He stated that initial E&S technical reviews were performed on an average of 13.2 business days for general permits and 24 days for individual permits. McCollum explained that the average resubmission time for completeness review revisions was 19 business days and for technical review resubmissions, the average response time was 33 business days. He asserted that because it costs approximately $335,000 to implement the E&S/NPDES program annually in Cumberland County, his agency is asking for a 10 percent increase to assist with staffing, which is a key to administering the E&S/NPDES process.

Chairman Metcalfe stated that this informational meeting came out of discussions of a bill that Rep. Zimmerman had offered related to the E&S permits/timelines. Chairman Metcalfe indicted that one piece of information in the presentation pertained to the completeness review and did not refer to technical information. He asked why this process took 15 days. McCollum stated that the completeness form is seven pages and that addendums which make up the permit add additional pages, which can number up to 300 pages. Metcalfe stated that though he has never had to fill out one of the permits, every day a permit is delayed is a day that a citizen is losing money. He asked if the technical review is 22 days after the completeness review of 15 days. McCollum stated that the 22 business days is after the completeness review. Chairman Metcalfe stated that when he was in the private sector he learned to do more with a cutback in staffing. He wanted to see more results with less and encouraged cross-training and less spending.

Ramez Ziadeh, executive deputy secretary, DEP, explained that Chapter 102 of DEP’s regulations authorized DEP to review permit applications of earth disturbance activities. Ziadeh explained that in 2006, DEP published the Pennsylvania Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual to assist developers in implementing PCSM requirements to meet federal and state requirements. He stated that Chapter 102 was amended in 2010 to align with federal requirements for new development for projects across the state. Ziadeh outlined the two types of permits under Chapter 102. He indicated that the first one is where one acre of earth disturbance that is not an agricultural plowing or tilling activity, animal heavy use area, timber harvesting activity, road maintenance activity, or oil and gas activity, the person must obtain a NPDES permit. He stated that this is also referred to as a PAG-02 permit and covers 85 percent of all earth disturbance activities requiring NPDES permits in Pennsylvania. If not eligible for a PAG-02, the person will need to apply for an individual NPDES permit.

Ziadeh stated that the second type of Chapter 102 permit is the timber harvesting or road maintenance permit, which involves 25 acres or more of earth disturbance or if a person proposed an oil or gas activity involving five acres or more of earth disturbance over the life of a project. He explained that this would require the person to obtain an E&S permit and indicated that a general permit is available for oil and gas activities and is known as an ESCGP-3 permit. He said that individual E&S permits are issued for timber harvesting and road maintenance activities that involve 25 acres or more of earthmoving.

Ziadeh outlined the roles of the DEP bureau and permit offices established by Chapter 102. He stated that the Bureau of Clean Water established the policies and procedures for Chapter 102 and develops and maintains permit templates and application materials. He explained that the Regional Permit Coordination Office in the department’s central office reviews Chapter 102 permit applications and issues permits for interstate natural gas pipelines.

He stated that the Office of Oil and Gas Management in the central office and DEP’s three oil and gas district offices review applications for ESCGP permit coverage and issue coverage to oil and gas activities for projects other than transmission facilities, and the Office of Active and Abandoned Mine Operations in the central office and DEP’s six district mining operations offices review applications for E&S and NPDES permit coverage and issue coverage to persons proposing activities on active abandoned mine lands. He said that the Waterways and Wetlands Program within DEP’s six regional offices review Chapter 102 permit applications and issue individual permits for all other activities not permitted by DEP’s Regional Permit Coordination Office, Office of Oil and Gas Management, and Office of Active and Abandoned Mine Operations. Ziadeh explained that they also provide support to conservation districts in the review of Chapter 102 general permits.

Ziadeh asserted the delegated conservation districts in 65 of Pennsylvania’s counties are the initial recipients of the NPDES permit applications and conduct the completeness reviews.

Aneca Atkinson, acting deputy secretary for water programs, DEP, explained that there is a current internal review. She stated that she is working with counsel and explained that her goal is to have changes made so that the draft can be ready to be published on the Pennsylvania Bulletin by the end of June.

Republicans Retain Two other Senate Seats, and One House Seat in May Special Elections; Keller Wins Congressional Seat

Republicans, at least temporarily, reversed their recent string of electoral losses on May 21, winning all three state legislature special elections, and one for an open Congressional seat, on a day noted mostly for horrendous turnout in the municipal primary elections. In the 33rd state Senate district in central PA, retired Army colonel Doug Mastriano easily defeated Democrat Sarah Hammond, director of community development for the Borough of Spring Grove, by a wide margin, to succeed former GOP state Sen. Rich Alloway, who retired in February. Over in Indiana, PA, Joe Pittman, who served for many years as chief of staff for former state Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), also overcame a challenge from Democrat Susan Boser, a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, to take the 41st. Mastriano ran on a conservative campaign, advocating for lowering taxes and cutting spending, term limits, cutting regulations, and opposing same sex marriage and abortion. He patterned his campaign after President Donald Trump. Pittman talked about continuing the work of his boss and cited focusing on the “God-given natural gas and coal resources” of the region, focusing on workforce development, while boasting about being a lifelong member of the NRA during his campaign.

In the state House, Marci Mustello, a staffer for US Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler), easily topped Democrat Sam Doctor in the 11th state House District in Butler County. Mustello will be taking over for state Rep. Brian Ellis (R-Butler), who resigned from office in the midst of an ongoing sexual assault investigation. Interestingly, both Mustello and Doctor had sought the House seat in prior elections. Mustello lost to Ellis in the 2004 primary in, while Doctor ran as an Independent against Ellis in 2018. Mustello ran on the need for lowering taxes, supporting the 2nd Amendment and advocating for pro-life policies.

Once these three are sworn in in June, Republicans will have a 28-22 margin in the state Senate and a 110-93 lead in the state House, though another seat in the House will become open as well. Read on.

Keller Wins Special Election to Succeed Marino

As was predicted by polls and registration, State Rep. Fred Keller (R-Snyder) won a May 21 special election for the 12th Congressional District, defeating Democrat Marc Friedenberg. Keller will succeed five term Rep. Tom Marino (R-Lycoming) who resigned in January citing health issues. The 12th District is one of the most GOP friendly in the state, and Marino’s most recent reelection bid was a 32 point victory over Friedenberg. The district voted for President Donald Trump over Sec. Hillary Clinton by over 35 points. Trump made an appearance in Montoursville in the district on the night before the election, holding a rally in an effort to boost turnout for Keller, a precursor for Trump’s effort to again win PA in 2020. Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation will again be split, with 9 Democrats and 9 Republicans.  The current, controversial maps will again be used for the 2020 elections, then the General Assembly will redraw the districts again after the 2020 census, probably with one less seat to redraw. Keller’s victory means yet another special election to fill the vacancy for his House District, which has been set by PA House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, for Tuesday, Aug. 20. Keller informed House Speaker Turzai, of his resignation from the state House effective May 24. Candidates for the office will be selected by a process designated by their respective political parties, and the winner of the special election will take office after the results are certified.

Legislative Activity

The following bills and co-sponsorship memos for bills to be introduced of interest to PSPE were acted on by the General Assembly this past month.

Budget Related Bills

HB 24  RE: Debt Repayment (by Rep. John Lawrence, et al)

Amends the Capital Facilities Debt Enabling Act, in capital facilities, further providing for bonds, issue of bonds and notes, maturity and interest. Requires the principal for new issuances of state debt to be repaid in equal amounts over the term of the bond. Provides the legislation shall apply to bonds, including funding bonds, issued on or after July 1, 2019. Effective immediately.

Reported as amended from House Appropriations Committee, 5/6/2019
Read third time, and passed House, 5/7/2019 (197-0)
Received in the Senate and referred to Senate Appropriations Committee, 5/17/2019

HB 880  RE: RACP Cap (by Rep. Andrew Lewis, et al)

Amends the Capital Facilities Debt Enabling Act, in capital facilities, further providing for appropriation for and limitation on redevelopment assistance capital projects. The bill establishes that beginning July 1, 2022, and each July 1 thereafter until the sum of the outstanding obligations for redevelopment assistance capital projects equals $2,650,000,000, the sum of the maximum amount of outstanding obligations for redevelopment assistance projects shall be decreased by $100,000,000.

Reported as committed from House Appropriations Committee, read third time, and passed House, 5/7/2019 (104-92)
Received in the Senate and referred to Senate Appropriations Committee, 5/17/2019

SR 106  RE: Highway Maintenance Funding (by Sen. Lisa Baker, et al)

A Resolution directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study and issue a report, by December 31, 2019, on the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s highway maintenance funding.

Introduced and referred to Senate Transportation Committee, 5/10/2019

Environmental Building Standards

HB 1488  RE: High-Performance Buildings Tax Credit (by Rep. Brian Sims, et al)

Amends the Tax Reform Code establishing the High-Performance Buildings Tax Credit which would be available to a taxpayer, whether owner or tenant, for either the construction of a high- performance building or the rehabilitation of a building which is not a high-performance building into a high-performance building. The total tax credit that is available to a taxpayer for a single eligible project shall be distributed in four equal amounts over four years. The amount shall be based on the number of gross square feet of floor space in the eligible building, that building’s achievement of an appropriate standard, and the tier of achievement earned. In addition, no building may receive a tax credit unless it has earned achievement at or above the Tier I level. All the approved projects shall receive a base tax credit of $35,000 plus an additional tax credit based on a formula outlined in the legislation. The Department of Revenue shall annually report to the House and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committees on the credit. The addition of sections 1901-G, 1902-G, 1903-G, 1904-G and 1910-G shall take effect in 30 days and the remainder of the act shall take effect in 12 months.

Introduced and referred to House Finance Committee, 5/22/2019

HB 1489  RE: Energy Star-rated Product Manufacturing Tax Credit (by Rep. Brian Sims, et al)

Amends the Tax Reform Code establishing an Energy Star-rated product manufacturing tax credit for a taxpayer that manufactures Energy Star-rated products. The credit shall be an amount equal to 20 percent of the total amount of all capital, operation, and maintenance costs paid for manufacturing Energy Star-related products in the taxable year to be applied against the taxpayer’s qualified tax liability. The addition of sections 1801-H, 1802-H, 1803-H, 1804-H, 1805-H and 1806-CH shall apply to tax years beginning after December 31, 2018, and the act shall take effect immediately.

Introduced and referred to House Finance Committee, 5/22/2019

HB 1491 RE: Green Roof Tax Credit (by Rep. Brian Sims, et al)

Amends the Tax Reform Code establishing a green roof tax credit.

Introduced and referred to House Finance Committee, 5/22/2019

SB 619  RE: Spill Reporting Requirements under the Clean Streams Law (by Sen. Gene Yaw, et al)

Amends the Clean Streams Law, in general provisions and public policy, further providing for definitions; and, in other pollutions and potential pollution, outlining provisions requiring notice of discharge endangering health or the environment.

Introduced and referred to Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, 5/10/2019

Local/State Government/Regulations

SB 671  RE: Small Business Fee Exemption Act (by Sen. Vincent Hughes, et al)

Provides for small business fee exemption. The bill establishes that in addition to the exemption provided to a veteran-owned or reservist-owned small business, the following shall be exempt from the payment of a business fee: a woman-owned small business; a service-disabled veteran-owned small business; a minority-owned small business; a disadvantaged small business; and a microbusiness.

Introduced and referred to Senate State Government Committee, 5/24/2019

Professional Licensure

HB 1172 RE: License Portability for Professional Licensees Entering Pennsylvania  (by Rep. Dave Hickernell, et al)

Amends an act entitled “An act empowering the General Counsel or his designee to issue subpoenas for certain licensing board activities; providing for hearing examiners in the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs; providing additional powers to the Commissioner of Professional and Occupational Affairs; and further providing for civil penalties and license suspension,” providing for licensure by endorsement. The bill establishes that a licensing board or commission shall issue a license, certificate, registration or permit to an applicant to allow practice in this Commonwealth if, upon application to the licensing board, the applicant satisfies all of the following conditions: holds a current license, certificate, registration or permit from another state, territory or country and the licensing board or commission determines that state’s, territory’s or country’s requirements are substantially equivalent to or exceed the requirements established in this Commonwealth; demonstrates competency in the profession through methods determined by the licensing board; has not committed any act that would have constituted grounds for refusal, suspension or revocation of a license; is in good standing; and pays any fees.

Reported as amended from House Professional Licensure Committee, rad first time, and laid on the table, 5/8/2019
Removed from the table, 5/13/2019
Read second time, and rereferred to House Appropriations Committee, 5/14/2019

Reported as committed from House Appropriations Committee, read third time, and passed House, 5/15/2019 (188-0)

Received in the Senate and referred to Senate Consumer Protection & Prof. Licensure Committee, 5/24/2019

HR 350 RE: Licensure for Active Duty Military And Veterans (by Rep. Harry Readshaw, et al)

A Resolution urging the licensing boards and commissions under the Department of State to review how military education and training may partially or completely fulfill licensure requirements and to develop suggested pathways to licensure for active duty military and veterans.

Introduced and referred to House Professional Licensure Committee, 5/22/2019

Cosponsor memos filed

HCO1990 (Saylor) – A Resolution recognizing August 7, 2019 as “Professional Engineers Day”.

Filed, 5/7/2019

School Construction

HB 1483 RE: School Board and Administration Financial Reform Package (by Rep. Anthony DeLuca, et al)

Amends the Public School Code, in school finances, providing that the Department of Education, prior to the board of school directors incurring any indebtedness against the school district, shall review the most recent audit of a school district and certify that the school district is financially capable of fulfilling obligations for the indebtedness. If the indebtedness is to be incurred to construct or enter into a contract to lease a new school building or to construct a substantial addition to an existing school building, the audit shall be available for the public hearing required.

Introduced and referred to House Education Committee, 5/22/2019

HB 1487 RE: School Board and Administration Financial Reform Package (by Rep. Anthony DeLuca, et al)

Amends the Public School Code, in grounds and buildings, requiring a school building construction or reconstruction project to stop and a referendum needed if a school district fails to comply with public hearing requirements.

Introduced and referred to House Education Committee, 5/22/2019

Cosponsor memos filed

SCO 926 (Browne) – Plan Con – Construction and Renovation of Buildings by School Entities and Establishing a Grant Program for Maintenance Projects Legislation incorporating recommendations of the PlanCon Advisory Committee.

Filed, 5/15/2019

Other Bills of Interest

HR 328 (Cox) – A Resolution recognizing May 2019 as Building Safety Month in Pennsylvania.

Introduced as noncontroversial resolution, 5/13/2019

Copies of all bills of interest can be accessed via the Internet

Upcoming Meetings of Interest

Some House Committee meetings and session can be viewed online at: http://www.pahousegop.com/

Senate Committee meetings and session can be streamed at: http://www.pasenategop.com/

WEDNESDAY – 6/19/19
House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee
9:00 a.m., Room G-50, Irvis Office Building

Joint public hearing with the House Local Government Committee to hear testimony from local government associations on the regulatory compliance and costs associated with storm water management

2019 SENATE SESSION SCHEDULE

June                 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28
September      23, 24, 25
October          21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
November      18, 19, 20
December       16, 17, 18 

2019 HOUSE SESSION SCHEDULE

June                 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28
September       17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25
October           21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
November       12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20
December        9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18

State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists Meeting Schedule 

2019 Meeting Dates (Subject to change): July 10, September 11, November 13

PUBLIC WELCOME 

All Board meetings are held at Penn Center, 2601 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA, at 9:30 a.m.

Other meeting dates may be scheduled as needed.