Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Virginia Launches Platform to make Environmental Permit Info Public

A screengrab of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s new Permitting Enhancement and Evaluation Platform.

RICHMOND — A Virginia agency is giving the public a peep at the state’s environmental permitting process through a new online platform, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office announced Friday.

The Permitting Enhancement and Evaluation Platform, or PEEP, is an online resource that shows where permit applications and other Department of Environmental Quality approvals are in the review process. The agency says the goal is to create transparency, collaboration and efficiency in its evaluations.

Youngkin described PEEP in a statement as “an open and efficient online process where all of the permitting decisions are made for everyone to see.”

“Virginians deserve to know the status of the permits in their communities and Virginian businesses need to be able to track the progress of their permit applications,” he said.

Currently, data is available on PEEP only for Virginia Water Protection Permit applications. Construction stormwater plan review and data for other permit applications will be coming soon, the website states, with the goal of having information on all of DEQ’s significant permits online by the end of 2023.

The site includes a widget that includes details of each permit application, including the facility name, the locality where it’s sited, the owner, the agent, the permit number, the request type and a link for further details. It also has a search or filter function for each of those categories. Applications received before July 1 are not on the site.

The site can be accessed through the myDEQ portal, where the public can also report pollution and search for pollution reports and certified stormwater and erosion control certificate holders.

Previously, there had been no easy method for permit applicants or the public to track progress of their applications, DEQ Director Mike Rolband noted in the release.

Rolband has previously described permitting reform as one of his top priorities.

“Right now it’s a black box for everybody, for the public and the permittee,” he said during a Virginia Chamber of Commerce forum in April. “You apply for a permit and you don’t know what happened to it. And often it gets stuck somewhere. So I want to have a public online platform where anybody can find out where the permit is in the process.”

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