Administration seeks regulatory fix for permit process

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(Host) Since lawmakers were unable to reach a compromise on permit reform, the Douglas administration plans to implement some changes through the regulatory process.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) In the final days of the Legislative session, Governor Jim Douglas made it very clear to lawmakers that he would ask the Environmental Board to initiate some changes to Act 250 if the House and Senate could not agree on a compromise permit reform plan. Lawmakers couldn’t agree and so the administration plans to move forward.

Natural Resources Secretary Wibs McLain says the administration will ask the Environmental Board to make some changes concerning which groups and individuals can obtain party status in a particular case:

(McLain) “Some changes definitely need to be made and they haven’t yet, so. And those things that can be done by rule, I think that’s one approach to making some changes that need to happen.”

(Kinzel) Although House and Senate negotiators were unable to reach a compromise on the final day of the session, the governor is encouraging the conference committee to meet over the summer. If the committee comes up with a consensus plan, Douglas has vowed to call a special legislative session to consider the proposal.

McLain says the final Senate plan, which consolidates all appeals to an expanded citizen based review board, provides a solid foundation for further negotiations:

(McLain) “I think it’s a good place to start and I think it represents good thinking and I think it’s a place that they can start from and build on and perhaps come to a good conclusion.”

(Kinzel) McLain also plans to work with a number of other interested groups to explore other possibilities:

(McLain) “I’m sure there are other ideas out there. I’m sure there are discussions with regard to other statutory or rules changes that would be helpful and useful and I’m looking forward to convening a group to work on those.”

(Kinzel) McLain says all sides in this debate need some time off to gain some perspective on this issue and she’s hoping that the conference committee will meet later this month to build on the senate plan.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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