Regional Permit Coordination Office
In 2017, DEP began to lay the groundwork for the Regional Permit Coordination Office (RPCO). RPCO is designed as a centralized permitting office, handling specialized Chapter 102 and 105 permits, that also provides statewide technical support and coordination. The creation of RPCO addressed a need to re-establish a centralized entity to provide Chapter 102/105 permitting functions as noted below. RPCO officially opened for business on January 7, 2019.
RPCO’s mission is to provide synchronized and consistent reviews and approvals for general to complex projects regulated under Title 25, Chapter 102 Regulations, relating to Erosion Control, Stormwater Management and associated permitting; and Title 25, Chapter 105 Regulations, relating to Wetland, Stream and Floodway Encroachments. These projects involve scientific and/or engineering review of permit applications for regulated activities and often involve coordination with other federal, state and county resource agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, PA Fish and Boat Commission, and pertinent County Conservation Districts. RPCO also coordinates with other agencies such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
RPCO is staffed similarly to DEP Regional Waterways and Wetlands Program, which handle Chapter 102 and 105 permitting, which consists of a team of engineers and biologists. The major difference is that RPCO does not include field staff; therefore inspections, compliance and enforcement remain the responsibility of regional offices and delegated conservation districts while maintaining close communication with RPCO.
Some other distinctions of RPCO includes the following staff which have been established in order to carry out its duties:
- A Transportation Coordinator to help manage obligations described in Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with both PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC).
- A Licensed Professional Geologist to assist with complex projects involving geologic issues and concerns.
- A Water Program Specialist to assist with program coordination and consistency efforts, as well as coordination and assistance with compliance and enforcement activities for large/complex projects.
RPCO’s major functions include:
- Reviewing and approving Ch. 102 and Ch. 105 permit applications and their companion plans for general to complex projects which may include multi-county/multi-regional projects encompassing two DEP Regions and three counties, FERC-regulated natural gas pipeline projects, and projects with complex engineering/geologic considerations.
- Coordinating approvals with the appropriate regional offices that may be processing other permit applications/approvals, such as hydrostatic discharges and air quality emissions, related to complex linear projects.
- Assisting with cross-program coordination and consistency efforts with the various Departmental Programs that have authority to process permits/authorizations under Chapter 102 and Chapter 105. (e.g., Regional Offices, Oil and Gas, Dam Safety, Flood Protection, Mining, and Delegated County Conservation Districts)
- Providing technical support to regional DEP staff and conservation district staff on Ch. 102 and Ch. 105 permitting in conjunction with established bureau personnel.
- RPCO is also responsible for the transportation coordination responsibilities as described in the MOUs with PennDOT and the PTC which includes oversight, support and assistance to manage the program, streamline project development, ensure statewide consistency, and perform other duties consistent with the MOUs. For the PTC, all project reviews on behalf of DEP are conducted by specific funded staff within RPCO. For PennDOT, project reviews are conducted by specific funded staff within the pertinent regional offices, with RPCO support as needed.
PA Department of Environmental Protection
Regional Permit Coordination Office
400 Market Street
10th Floor Rachel Carson State Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17101