The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) has updated guidance for holders of certain environmental permits, further impacting the ability of non-essential construction projects to proceed.
Specifically, those holders of permits under Chapter 102 (earth disturbance permits) who also are regarded as a “life sustaining business” under PA Governor Tom Wolf’s March 19, 2020 Order may continue earth disturbance activities so long as the work is “in support of the life sustaining business.” Those permittees who are not engaged in a life sustaining business must cease all earth disturbance activity and stabilize the work site in accordance with Chapter 102 directives and the Erosion and Sedimentation Control manual.
Here is a link to the PADEP COVID-19 alert page containing an explanation of the new guidance, as well as other steps the department is taking in light of the virus’s impact.
The guidance does relieve permittees of conducting weekly inspections of stabilized sites, while all other inspection requirements of such permits must be met. Such inspections will be considered critical under the Governor’s Order.
The guidance also reminds permittees who have voluntarily ceased construction projects involving earth disturbance and/or stream or wetland encroachments (under Chapter 105) to continue to comply with permit conditions that apply during any cessation of work.
Finally, because of office closures and staffing issues arising from the pandemic, PADEP is suspending required timeframes for providing permit decisions. While permit applications will continue to be processed, the regulated community should expect delays. PADEP says it will continue to provide emergency approvals for work critical to health and safety.