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Changes to DEP Air Quality Program’s Fee Schedule Approved by PA Commission, Now Waits for Green Lig

Here’s some good news on the air quality front: Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) on Sept. 17 approved the final revisions to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Air Quality Program fee schedule.

The revisions were approved by a 4-1 vote.  

GASP previously submitted comments in support of fee schedule changes, which are designed to ensure that DEP’s Air Quality Program has adequate funds to operate for the foreseeable future.  

It’s important to note that the approval was not a foregone conclusion.

“In 2019, the IRRC rejected the Environmental Quality Board proposed revisions to the Air Quality’s Program’s fee schedule by a 3-2 vote, purportedly because it was not clear that Pennsylvania’s Air Pollution Control Act gave the EQB the legal authority to make all of the proposed revisions,” GASP’s senior staff attorney John Baillie said. “Presumably, the legal analysis that the EQB provided with the final form revisions helped change minds at the IRRC and secured its approval of the final form revisions.”

However, the IRRC vote is not the final step in the approval process: The final form revisions must also be greenlighted by the state Senate’s Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, as well the House’s Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy.  

“If they also approve the final form revisions, the revisions will be submitted to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office for approval,” Baillie said. “After such approval, the revisions will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and become law.”

The new fee schedule, if finally approved, will directly impact facilities where DEP administers the air pollution laws, specifically, all areas of Pennsylvania outside of Allegheny and Philadelphia Counties.  

Facilities in Allegheny County will be impacted indirectly because Allegheny County has restructured the fee schedule used by the Air Program at the Allegheny County Health Department.  

“We expect that the County will set fee amounts that are similar, if not identical, to those charged by DEP once DEP’s new fee schedule is finalized,” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said.

Editor’s Note: You can read our comments on the proposed fee schedule here.   

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