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Integrated Permitting Report Released

For several years the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partnered with the UK Environment Agency to research the processes, policies, and tools used to implement the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) system in the UK.  During this time, the EPA organized and/or participated in numerous outreach activities sharing information on the UK system with interested parties and discussing possible uses of the permitting model in the US. 

A new comprehensive report [with several appendices] is the product of this collaborative effort.  The National Center for Environmental Innovation (NCEI) has just released "An In-depth Look at the United Kingdom Integrated Permitting System".  NCEI undertook this examination of the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) integrated permitting system to fully understand the permitting approach now being adopted across the European Union and to explore whether aspects of it might offer insights into how the United States (US) system might be improved. 

The report describes the historical and cultural setting for the UK’s integrated permitting system, provides an overview of the legal and organizational framework, and includes detailed information on the permitting process and permit requirements.  An analysis of several individual US and UK permits for the pulp and paper sector and the specialty organic chemical sector offers practical comparisons between the two countries’ approaches.  The report concludes with summary findings regarding features of the UK permitting system significant for a US audience. 

Despite more than two decades of environmental policy and permitting innovation in the US, many believe there continues to be significant potential for improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of environmental permitting.  A variety of state and federal initiatives have explored ways to streamline the permitting process, encourage multi-media approaches, foster continuous improvement through environmental management systems and other means, and to understand and manage the entire environmental footprint of permitted facilities toward sustainability goals.  While many of these efforts have shown significant promise, they have largely been carried out independently and on a rather small scale.  The rich array of ideas brought together on a large scale in UK’s integrated permitting system stimulates new ideas and fresh perspectives on old ideas about how environmental permitting might be improved for greater environmental results here in the U.S.  

NCEI plans to use the report to encourage and stimulate further dialogue with others in government, academia, industry, and non-governmental organizations about the potential testing and application of integrated and other innovative permitting approaches in the U.S.   The executive summary (PDF) (11 pp, 115K) very briefly covers the introductory and analytical elements detailed in the full report and focuses on the report findings.

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