State News

Environmental permit process to change?

By John Herrick,

The Shumlin administration has proposed legislation that officials say will create a more predictable process for developers to obtain permits for projects that have environmental impacts.

The changes aim to simplify the notification and comment process for project applications as part of an effort to increase efficiency within the department, according to David Mears, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, who presented the bill to the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee in mid-April.The bill, S.123, includes a provision that officials say would make it more difficult for opponents of certain projects to raise objections about state environmental permits during an appeal to the state’s Environmental Court. S.123 also includes changes that will make it easier for residents and developers to work out disagreements at the early stages of the application process, officials say.

Mears said the changes will save the state time and money, make it easier to participate in permit applications, and decrease the cost and uncertainty for developers to get projects permitted. He said he is open to talking about changes to Act 250 or Section 248 that he said are “equally flawed.”

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