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      Environmental Permitting
      I mprovement Team
&EPA  Customer Service Plan


            Permits Improvement Team

Pilot Customer Service Plan

    The United States Environmental Protection Agency
(USEPA) protects human health and the environment through
several approaches. One of these is the issuance of environ-
mental permits that regulate activities, including waste disposal
and discharges into the air and water.
    Many environmental laws provide for delegation of permit
issuance to the states. USEPA has made such a delegation to
many states for one or more of the permitting programs.
Combined, USEPA and the states have issued over one million
permits to businesses and individuals.
    Permits set forth conditions that, when complied with, will
adequately protect human health and the environment. In
situations where noncompliance occurs, the permit must be
enforceable so that actions can be taken to bring the regulated
activity into compliance.

 Service to Our Customers
    The issuance of environmental permits provides benefits to
two groups. Citizens, the primary beneficiaries of environmen-
tal permits, can enjoy safe air and drinking water, since regu-
 lated activities must  not adversely affect these resources.
    Those regulated by permits compose the second customer
 group. Recognizing that through permit compliance these   
 customers are the actual providers of environmental protection,
 USEPA and the states must strive to clearly communicate
 permit requirements. It is equally important for the issuing
1 agency to make permit decisions within a defined time frame to
 accommodate business planning.

 Actions to Improve Service
     USEPA and the states have taken a number of actions to
 improve the delivery of environmental permits. However, most

of these have focused on individual permit programs. In order
to improve all permits, the USEPA has recently created a.
Permits Improvement Team (PIT). PIT members include state
agency representatives, as well as USEPA personnel from
headquarters and the regional offices. They will focus on
paperwork reduction, providing for better public participation,
and removing barriers to pollution prevention and innovative
   The PIT will be implementing ways to improve the environ-
mental permitting processes while maintaining  high quality
enforceable permits. Many recommendations have already
been made on how to accomplish this and more will be devel-
oped through ongoing initiatives. The PIT will seek input
regarding improvements to the permitting process from com-
munity groups, environmental organizations and those regu-
lated by environmental permits.                      :

Customer Service Standards  Proposed Areas    i
   How to measure the success of environmental permitting is
an important aspect that must be addressed. With two cus-
tomer groups, what is a success for one group may not be so

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c  for the other. The PIT will develop standards that can be jused
  to measure customer satisfaction with the permitting process.
  Some possible standards include:                    !

         Obtaining favorable community reaction to the permit-
         ting process as determined by surveys conducted after
         a permit has been  issued.

         Defining the estimated time frame to issue various
         permits. This may require the use of state/EPA grant
         requirements.                              :

         Establishing the number of resubmittals it will take to
         get a complete application. If all deficiencies are! clearly
         identified, it should only take one resubmittal. Mibre
         than that may indicate a problem that needs to be
         addressed.                                .

         Establishing a goal to measure the level of understand-
       ,  ing of permit conditions, possibly by counting the
         number of facilities out of compliance.         j

         Closely monitoring the number and source of pejrmil:
         appeals.                                  i  ,
  Questions, Comments or Complaints
      We want to hear your ideas on how to improve our piermit-
  ting process. The Permits Improvement Team is Co-Chaired by
  Elliott Laws, Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and
  Emergency Response and Jeanne Fox, Regional Administrator
  for Region 2. Please contact the Team's Executive Director,
  Lance Miller, with any questions, comments or suggestions. He
  can be reached by phone at either (908) 321-6782 or (703)
  308-8847 or by mail at:                             '
         U.S. EPA, Permits Improvement Team
         2890 Woodbridge Ave. (Mail Stop 100)        \
         Edison, NJ 08837