Efficient Environmental Rulemaking Process Authorized By LD 1 Begins Today at Maine DEP

July 6, 2011

CONTACT:
Samantha DePoy-Warren, Maine DEP Spokesperson/Director of Education & Outreach samantha.depoy-warren@maine.gov/ 207-592-0427 (cell)

-Handling routine technical rulemaking in-house starts today and will significantly speed up the process as the department will no longer have to wait to get on the board’s busy calendar-

AUGUSTA – A new rulemaking process seen as necessary to needed regulatory reform will begin today at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Under the recently ratified LD 1, Governor Paul LePage’s bill seeking to streamline state regulations that was approved unanimously by the Maine Legislature, the agency’s commissioner is now authorized to manage environmental rulemaking for rules that are considered routine technical and not requiring legislative approval.

Previously, that rulemaking was run by the Board of Environmental Protection, which will continue to weigh in on rules that are considered major substantive and thus must meet legislative muster.

Handling routine technical rulemaking in-house will significantly speed up the process as the department will no longer have to wait to get on the board’s busy calendar.

Since LePage came into office, DEP staff have been reviewing the agency’s existing 200 or so rules and have identified a handful of rules as obsolete or in need of revision as a result of recent statutory changes, emerging facts since the rule was initially promulgated or the awareness of alternative approaches that would allow for an equivalent environmental benefit at a lower cost to the regulated entity or taxpayers.

Any new rule proposals will require a science-based approach and a regulatory impact analysis.

In an effort to continue to keep the rulemaking process a transparent one, rules that are up for repeal will be available for public comment for 20 days, while most revisions of new rulemakings will have a public comment period as well as a public hearing to be held at the department’s Augusta office.

In addition to being published on the Maine DEP rulemaking website at http://maine.gov/dep/rulemaking.htm all rulemaking proposals will be published by the Maine Secretary of State’s Office.

The new rulemaking process will formally begin today when six rules proposed by DEP staff for repeal will be published by the Secretary of State and a 20-day public comment period will begin.

These proposed repeals relate to outdated rules no longer needed. For example, the department is proposing to repeal “Chapter 107, Sulfur Dioxide Emission Standards for Sulfite Pulp Mills” as the only facility that was covered under this rule is no longer operating. Another rule, “Chapter 155, Portable Fuel Container Spillage Control,” is being repealed so that the more stringent federal standard, which was enacted in 2009 and subjects all portable fuel containers to minimum VOC and hazardous air pollutant control requirements, will apply in Maine.

Implementing the new process has been a paramount priority for the department’s leadership as part of its regulatory reform efforts. Maine DEP Acting Commissioner Pattie Aho says it is a testament to the need for meaningful reform of this kind that the Legislature, the Governor’s Office and the department were able to work collaboratively and quickly to enact it just months into office.

"A major focus for us is to ensure our rules are practicable, easily understood and achievable. The first step is to repeal those rules which are outdated, outmoded and unnecessary. Our second step will be to amend our current rules to be consistent with our standards of practicable, understandable and achievable,” Aho said. “Whether it is streamlining the municipal snow dump application process, creating more permit-by-rule categories or designating more beneficial reuse opportunities for certain products, all will help make our process more efficient and approachable."

Aho says the benefits of rule review and revising will be felt immediately but will also result in reform that lasts as regulated entities will benefit from reevaluation, modification, clarification and improvement of our regulations and Mainers will continue to benefit from the reasonable and effective environmental protection provided by the department.

For more information about the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s rulemaking process or to receive notifications of all department-related rulemaking via a paid subscription service, visit http://maine.gov/dep/rulemaking.htm or call Terry Dawson at 207-287-2811.

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