HARRISBURG – House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Joshua D. Kail (R-Beaver/Washington) hosted a hearing titled “Obstacles to Opportunity: Pennsylvania’s Permitting Process” to hear the challenges of the Commonwealth’s permitting process and explore possible solutions.
“I firmly believe that we need to have the ability and fortitude to challenge the status quo,” said Kail. “We cannot simply say that we want opportunity and transformation and then do nothing about details like the permitting process. We have to be willing to challenge what’s there and disrupt the status quo.”
Kevin Sunday, director of government affairs at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, noted some remedies that would lead to further investment include going beyond a “money-back guarantee” for permits; establishing timelines for the authorization of key projects; and providing agencies resources to efficiently review permits.
“The state lost out on a major petrochemical expansion in the southeast due to a lack of infrastructure and an associated protracted permitting process,” said Sunday. “We were not in the running for a semiconductor manufacturer because of site availability. Other manufacturers that produce life-sustaining medicine and consumer goods have reported that our state’s process to permitting significantly lowers the likelihood of new investment coming to Pennsylvania as they deliberate internally.”
David Taylor, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, detailed a list of approaches needing to be taken to fix this issue. This includes involving the General Assembly regarding regulations that impose a significant economic cost to Pennsylvanians; ensuring state regulations are not stricter than those of the federal government; and requiring state regulatory agencies to be partners in compliance.
“When it comes to the larger issue of regulatory reform, let me be clear that no one is saying there shouldn’t be rules; of course, there should be,” said Taylor. “However, those rules should be based on sound science and should be subjected to a meaningful and independent cost/benefit analysis. In environmental compliance, the continuous ratcheting of standards to capture the last molecule of emissions pushes us past the point of diminishing returns. Under that dynamic, costs soar ever higher as any potential benefit grows ever smaller. This approach is wasteful, counterproductive and contrary to good sense.”
Michael Ford, secretary-treasurer for the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council, mentioned we are at a historic time because of bipartisan support.
“We have everything in Pennsylvania,” said Ford. “We have all the logistics we need, we have a skilled and qualified workforce, and we have energy like nobody’s business. We can really take it to the next level, but we have to work together to get that done.”
Representative Joshua Kail
15th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives