A recent order from Gov. Tom Corbett has natural gas drilling critics up in arms claiming it puts the public at risk.
The order a “Permit Decision Guarantee” will, according to critics, pressure state employees to more quickly approve environmental permits.
These permits could include Marcellus Shale gas wells.
DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday said in a statement that Corbett’s new order “will not sacrifice environmental protection.” Sunday said details of the new policy are being developed and the agency will publish them for public comment this month.
“We are confident that we have the staff needed to both carry out the governor’s executive order and protect the environment,” Sunday said.
Corbett has said many groups have complained about how long it takes to approve permits.
“One of the biggest complaints I have received over and over again is the time it takes for businesses, nonprofit organizations and local governments to work through the permitting process,” Corbett said in a statement. “I promised to correct this.”
Last year, The Associated Press reported that state environmental regulators said they spend as little as 35 minutes reviewing each of the thousands of applications for natural gas well permits.
Should speed be a priority for an agency like DEP whose purpose is to protect the environment?