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DRBC Announces One Process/One Permit Program

Please Note: After a public hearing on March 10, 2015, the following resolution was unanimously passed at the DRBC's business meeting on March 11, 2015 by the commissioners present:


For Immediate Release

February 27, 2015 

(West Trenton, N.J.) -- The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) today announced plans for a One Process/One Permit Program to promote collaboration and enhance administrative efficiencies between DRBC and the four basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) while ensuring that equal or better environmental outcomes are obtained. 

"Since DRBC and our member states' environmental agencies often share similar mission objectives and regulatory programs, many water resource-related projects in the basin are currently required to apply to both the DRBC and a state agency for permits and approvals," said DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini. "The One Process/One Permit Program announced today will rely upon administrative agreements between the DRBC and each state agency to identify common regulatory programs that will be managed through a single process resulting in one decision or approval."

"This effort does not alter the regulatory standards of the DRBC or any state agency, and the respective authorities and standards of each agency are to be expressly preserved," Tambini added. "Our focus is on administrative changes to implement current regulatory programs and to continue to require that the more protective of DRBC and state requirements are included in the single permit."

"On behalf of the DRBC members, I would like to express strong support for the One Process/One Permit approach," said Commission Chair Pro Tem Angus Eaton, who represents New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the DRBC. "We believe this program will promote interagency cooperation and collaboration on shared mission objectives, achieve regulatory program efficiencies, avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, and reduce the potential of confusion on the part of regulated entities and the public," Chairman Eaton added.

The states will be the lead agencies and issue permits under the One Process/One Permit Program for wastewater discharges under National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) water quality programs. For water withdrawals, the lead agency could either be the state or the DRBC depending upon current state programs.

Reviews under the One Process/One Permit Program for standard renewals of existing permits with no changes could be streamlined or be subject to interagency notifications only. For more complex permit applications, commission staff and state agencies will commit to collaborate and cooperate within a "one process" system. DRBC will continue to provide the current level of technical review under applicable DRBC standards where they have special expertise. DRBC staff also will continue to identify conditions of approval to ensure that projects subject to review under the Delaware River Basin Compact and implementing regulations do not impair or conflict with the commission's comprehensive plan.

Two actions will be taken to implement the One Process/One Permit Program. DRBC will undertake rulemaking, including a public comment process, to provide specific authorization for and define the scope of the One Process/One Permit Program. In addition, the DRBC will execute new administrative agreements with New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware to replace agreements already in place. The start of the formal program will likely be no sooner than the fourth quarter of 2015 for most of the member states.

To inform the upcoming rulemaking process and aid in the development or refinement of new administrative agreements, DRBC and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) are proposing a One Process/One Permit demonstration program for wastewater discharge permits only that is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2015.

"The New Jersey demonstration program is an opportunity for NJDEP and DRBC to turn commitment into early action," said NJDEP Assistant Commissioner for Water Resource Management Daniel Kennedy. "NJDEP looks forward to the opportunity to begin many of the process improvements to inform the formal DRBC rulemaking process."

During the demonstration period, DRBC and NJDEP are agreeing to "practice" using new collaborative processes between the two agencies for review of applications until new rules are adopted. In the event that a project reaches the stage where it is ready for final approval, the application would have to be acted upon by each agency independently. If the DRBC commissioners take an approval action during this period, the DRBC approval and conditions would be incorporated into one NJDEP permit.

A resolution authorizing the DRBC executive director to initiate rulemaking to provide for the One Process/One Permit Program and to enter into an agreement with New Jersey for demonstration of the program is expected to be considered at the next commission meeting on March 11 following a March 10 public hearing (see note above).

The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the 13,539 square-mile Delaware River Basin without regard to political boundaries. The five commission members are the governors of the basin states and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.

Additional information about the One Process/One Permit Program can be found on the commission's web site at www.drbc.net.

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Contact: Clarke Rupert, Clarke.Rupert@drbc.state.nj.us, (609) 883-9500 ext. 260

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