Study: Mixed record on permitting reform offers some hope

Photo Credit: Getty

CEI’s James Broughel provided comments to The Center Square about a study he authored:

“Pennsylvania’s a state where energy is very important to its economy; it’s also a purple state,” said James Broughel, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “You can sense that there’s this tension of wanting to add a lot of regulations, but also wanting to support energy projects, and it leads to this tense regulatory environment.”

Broughel analyzed the permitting process in Pennsylvania as part of a project to review state policies nationwide and noted that reform has been a rallying cry from the commonwealth’s governors for decades.

“It seems like almost every governor over the last 25 or 30 years has come into office and had some kind of permitting reform and made attempts to speed up the permitting process, establish deadlines for permit reviews, reduce backlogs,” he said. “There’s a mixed record of success in these efforts.”

That mixed record includes trying again what’s already been done.

“The reforms that we’re seeing form the Shapiro administration seem to be making some progress — but they’re also rehashing old ideas that were tried 30 years ago like the money-back guarantee policy,” Broughel said. “I think that policy in general is a good idea — but this signals maybe a lack of ambitious or bold ideas, and maybe something bigger needs to be tried.”

Permitting backlogs have been slashed in the DEP and other state agencies have sped up their approval wait times as well. But years-long delays still haunt projects despite years-long complaints and legislative attention.

Broughel’s report noted that wait times for permits can vary dramatically depending on which DEP regional office handles a review. For an ESCGP permit, required for oil and gas companies to dig up dirt, review times ranged from 79 days to 123 days depending on the regional office.

Read the full article on The Center Square.