Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division rolled out a new program Monday designed to reduce the time it takes for industries to receive air-quality permits.
The Expedited Permitting Program was created in response to revisions in state law that required the agency to develop procedures for the “timely processing” of certain permits.
Statewide, EPD administers about 3,000 air-quality permits, including 85 in industry-laden Richmond County, said Eric Cornwell, the manager of the division’s Stationary Source Permitting Program.
The Air Protection Branch will now allow applicants who meet certain criteria to pay a fee – ranging from $1,000 to as much as $40,000 – in exchange for accelerated permit review.
The fees will help offset the cost of expediting the permit applications, which will continue to be reviewed by EPD personnel.
The new program is modeled after similar policies used by the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control, Cornwell said.
The air-quality section is the first of several programs that will make the permitting process faster. Efforts are underway to create similar fast-track options for land and water-quality permits also.
“With this new expedited permitting process, we’re confident we can combine a thorough review of the regulatory requirements with a more accelerated process to issue high quality environmental permits to permit applicants in Georgia,” EPD Director Judson H. Turner said.