Mass DEP recently released a progress report (pdf) on its Regulatory Reform Initiative.  First launched in the spring of 2011, the reform initiative has entailed an agency-wide assessment of current practices and regulations, spawning a detailed action plan (pdf) and extensive public input, as well as a broadening of the initiative by identifying additional areas for reform.  The initiative is intended to simplify the regulatory process by introducing general permitting, streamlined oversight, and elimination of duplicate or low-benefit regulatory approvals. 

Proposed changes to the Chapter 91 waterways program are slated to provide a license-term policy for Chapter 91 licenses for non-water dependent projects, and accelerated review for large projects subject to review under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) (we haven’t seen anything in the initiative regarding MassDEP’s outdated “facilities of public accomodation” regulations and policy).  The license-term policy should streamline individual license negotiations and inject more certainty into the process.  The accelerated review process will allow MassDEP to start reviewing large-project Chapter 91 license applications during MEPA review, instead of holding up its license review until the MEPA process is over, cutting almost a month out of the current timeline. 

We’ll continue to monitor the Regulatory Reform Initiative and provide an update when the first public draft of the proposed regulatory changes is released.