On June 15, the PA Chamber convened its second, members-only DEP Quarterly event of the year. The event featured Secretary Patrick McDonnell, who will be leaving state government in early July after 25 years in the public sector. McDonnell thanked the Chamber and its members for their continued engagement and thoughtful dialogue throughout the years, and provided an update on several key initiatives. The agency is targeting late summer for taking a final draft of its revised Environmental Justice Policy to advisory committees, though a final decision on timing of a formal publication has not been made. DEP is also working through objections from EPA over reauthorization of the PAG-03 industrial stormwater permit. Additional changes are expected, requiring DEP to take the permit back out for comment, but the Secretary indicated EPA will grant an extension of the existing permit beyond the currently scheduled expiration in September 2022. Finally, the agency continues to review its final Reasonably Achievable Control Technology rule to implement the 2015 ozone standards and is targeting a fall publication of the final rule, which will take effect January 1, 2023.
Members were also briefed by Adam Walters, senior energy advisory for the Department of Community and Economic Development, on the administration’s work to secure a carbon capture and sequestration hub. Jessica Shirley, the agency’s former policy director, is now serving as DEP’s coordinator for implementation of the bipartisan federal infrastructure legislation and provided an update on the various funding streams going to DEP and PennVEST. These include water infrastructure, Bay cleanup, abandoned mine remediation, and oil and gas well plugging.
Finally, Acting Deputy Secretary for Water Programs Lisa Daniels updated the group on implementation of EPA’s lead and copper rule, its progress on a state-level MCL for PFAS in drinking water, and noted the availability of funding from the federal infrastructure law for lead line replacement in public drinking water systems. Maria Schumak, section chief for NPDES permitting, also provided an update on proposed changes to industrial stormwater permitting to include provisions related to PFAS.
Our thanks to event sponsors GZA GeoEnvironmental and Eckert Seamans. The next DEP Quarterly will take place Sept. 21, and the PA Chamber’s large annual environmental conference will be held Oct. 27 at the Eden Inn and Resorts in Lancaster.