On December 28, 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) issued Draft Technical Guidance that would revise the 2002 policy specifying how and when the PADEP should consult the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) to assess cultural resource impacts for projects requiring DEP permits. The policy is intended to help PADEP comply with the State History Code.
The proposed policy:
- Removes the automatic 10-acre disturbance exemption from PHMC coordination for projects that do not adversely affect known historic or archaeological resources;
- Requires that all PADEP permit applications complete PHMC Project Review Forms in order to be considered administratively complete—unless exempt;
- Prescribes new and different exemptions for projects based on the type of earth disturbance proposed (fill or excavation);
- Requires applicants to prove a project area is “previously disturbed” by archaeological survey or land use records;
- Requires applicants to evaluate structures older than 50 years for historical significance (the proposed policy does not define how to do this, but we presume that clients can accomplish this by consulting a professional architectural historian); and
- Removes citations from the 2002 policy regarding PHMC limits of authority and mandatory time frames for PHMC reviews, possibly introducing open-ended permit review delays for projects undergoing PHMC review.
Comments received by the PADEP on the Draft Technical Guidance are available here. The PADEP will publish responses to public comments, but the schedule for this release or finalizing the policy has not been determined.