HARRISBURG — House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) sent the following letter to PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell today questioning the DEP’s failure to adhere to a regulatory requirement to notify members of the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) within 30 days of the receipt of a rulemaking petition to establish a comprehensive program to restrict greenhouse gas emissions:
“Dear Secretary McDonnell:
“It has come to my attention that the Department completed its review of the Clean Air Council’s rulemaking petition (‘CAC Petition’) back in December. The Department concluded that the CAC Petition meets the established criteria set forth in 25 Pa. Code Chapter 23.
“As part of its obligation, the Department is required to notify the Environmental Quality Board (“EQB”) and the petitioner of its determination within 30 days of receipt of the petition. The CAC Petition was filed on November 27, 2018, and the Department sent its “Petition Acceptance Letter,” dated December 26, 2018. The Department failed to notify the EQB Members of the Department’s determination or the fact that the Department sent the letter to the petitioner.
“It was only after we inquired as to the status of the Department’s determination and received confirmation that the Department had accepted the petition and had sent a letter to the petitioner that the Department sent an e-mail to the EQB Members notifying the EQB Members of the Department’s determination.
“Sending the e-mail after the fact is not indicative of the Department’s intent to comply with its own notification requirements - rather, it was an action made necessary by our inquiries. In the Department’s e-mail, the first line opens with ‘Now having the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) membership fully established...’
“The EQB Board had been established. Whether individual Members were waiting to be appointed is moot. The Board, as a whole, still existed, and the Board Members have been requesting updates on the CAC Petition.
“I find this failure concerning especially when EQB Members have been asking for updates on the CAC Petition since the Department received it and have continuously requested updates on the CAC Petition as recently as last week. What is even more alarming is that the Department assured the EQB Members that the Members would be notified when the Department completed its determination.
“This lack in transparency is disrespectful to all the EQB Members as well as the public. This also serves to place EQB Members at a disadvantage by not giving them the same amount of time to be adequately prepared to not only discuss but vote on whether to accept the CAC Petition for further study.
“It is my hope that this violation was not the result of an intentional decision to catch the EQB Members off-guard in the hopes we would be unprepared. Regardless, I believe that as a result of this failure, the Department should notify the petitioner that as a result of the Department’s failure to comply with 25 Pa. Code Chapter 23, the Department must notify the petitioner that it needs to re-submit the CAC Petition for the Department’s determination.
“Just as the Department is obligated to comply with 25 Pa. Code Chapter 23 in terms of the Petitioner’s rights to have the petition considered, the EQB Members have an equal right to be notified.”
Representative Daryl Metcalfe
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Ty McCauslin