A Few Small Steps For Regulatory Reform In Massachusetts: MassDEP Releases Its Final Action Plan

Yesterday, MassDEP released its Final Action Plan for Regulatory Reform. It pretty consistent with the draft package I summarized last October. There is some good stuff in the package, but it really is baby steps. MassDEP’s own ground rules precluded the adoption of any changes that could not be described as Pareto improvements– If any stakeholder would be made worse off, it just wasn’t going to happen. Thus, MassDEP imposed the following limitations to ensure that the changes would not:

• Cost MassDEP money

• Impose burdens on municipalities

• Reduce public process

• Require statutory change to implement

Given these restrictions, the nature and scope of the proposed changes are not surprising. Many of the changes would relate to the Wetlands Protection Act, and related programs such as Chapter 91 and water quality certifications. Potentially, the most significant of these changes would be creation of a permit by rule in the outer 50’ of the buffer zone. As the Plan acknowledges, however, MassDEP already went down this path once – and was tripped up by the goal of trying to please everybody. Environmental groups would not agree to the change without adding burdensome requirements that made it effectively useless, MassDEP gave in to the NGOs, and the option was never utilized. Keep your fingers crossed this time. I have heard some of the same concerns raised again about negotiations to date on actually implementing this recommendation.

Please see full article below for more information.

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