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DRBC Approves One Process/One Permit Rulemaking

For Immediate Release

December 15, 2015

(West Trenton, N.J.) -- The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) at its Dec. 9, 2015 public business meeting unanimously approved an amendment to its Rules of Practice and Procedure to provide for a One Process/One Permit Program to promote interagency coordination and achieve regulatory program efficiencies between the DRBC and the four basin states - Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania - while achieving the same or improved environmental outcomes.

"For those projects subject to regulatory review by both the DRBC and a basin state, the objective of the One Process/One Permit Program is to provide for close collaboration on shared mission objectives and the issuance of a single approval instrument incorporating the applicable requirements of the two authorities," said DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini. "The focus is on administrative changes to implement current regulatory programs and, where appropriate, to allow the more protective of DRBC and state requirements to be included in a single permit."

"The One Process/One Permit Program is designed to avoid duplication of governmental resources and reduce the potential for confusion on the part of regulated entities and the public regarding regulatory requirements applicable to projects," said Commission Chair Pro Tem Kara Coats, who represents Delaware Gov. Jack Markell on the DRBC. "It does not alter the regulatory standards of the DRBC or any state agency, and the respective authorities of each agency will be expressly preserved."

The concept of a "One Permit Rule" was introduced to the basin community during meetings with various stakeholders in February and March, 2015. As directed by the commissioners in a March 11, 2015 resolution to initiate rulemaking, a draft rule was prepared by staff and published on the DRBC web site on May 17. A public hearing was conducted on June 9 and written comments were accepted through July 1. Following a review of all comments, DRBC staff in consultation with the commissioners developed a detailed comment and response document, including recommended changes to the May 17 draft rule in response to comments received.

To address concerns about continued public access to information, the final rule includes a new paragraph requiring signatory party agencies to notify DRBC at least monthly of applications received under the One Process/One Permit Program to enable the commission to maintain on its web site a list of all projects being administered pursuant to the program. This modification also will facilitate DRBC's administration and evaluation of the program.

Other revisions clarify that applications for approvals required by the Delaware River Basin Compact and DRBC regulations, but not within the scope of the One Process/One Permit Program, must continue to be submitted to the commission. The final rule also provides more efficient mechanisms for the disposition of DRBC dockets when a single state permit is issued by the state, and includes a clarification that DRBC's current project review fee schedule will remain in effect, including for projects administered under the program, unless and until the commission replaces it.

It is expected that 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 and the terms of an administrative agreement between DRBC and the appropriate state agency.

The commission staff and state agencies will continue to collaborate and cooperate within a "one process" system. DRBC staff 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 compact and implementing regulations do not impair or conflict with the commission's comprehensive plan.

Revisions appearing in the final rule underscore that participation in the One Process/One Permit Program by signatory party agencies is voluntary and the scope of a signatory party agency's participation will be defined by an administrative agreement (AA) between DRBC and the agency after the agreement undergoes a duly noticed public hearing. With implementation of the final rule, DRBC and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will fully implement their March 2015 agreement. Similar agreements may be developed with Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania.

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, including the final rule and the comment and response document, can be viewed on the commission's web site at www.drbc.net.

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Contacts: Clarke Rupert, Clarke.Rupert@drbc.nj.gov, (609) 883-9500 ext. 260 
Kate Schmidt, Kate.Schmidt@drbc.nj.gov, (609) 883-9500 ext. 205

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