Justice order moves ‘economically critical’ projects to front of line for permits

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice, who issued two executive orders about regulations earlier this year, has now issued another one.

The governor’s latest order particularly deals with permits for projects that may be considered economically critical.

In those instances — which would be determined by the executive director of the state Development Office — projects could receive a special certificate to expedite the rest of their permitting process.

Those projects then would move to the front of the line for the permitting process “without compromising statutory requirements.”

The executive order says a certificate of critical economic concern doesn’t necessarily guarantee a permit will be granted. It also says the certificate is not a waiver of any rule, regulation or statute.

MORE: Read the executive order.

In its announcement about the executive order, the Justice administration cited West Virginia’s national reputation.

“West Virginia has consistently been ranked at or near the bottom amongst all states for our regulatory environment by publications such as Forbes and CNBC,” the governor stated. “This is an area where we need to improve.”

West Virginia was last on Forbes’ “Best States for Business” list last year, ranking No. 50 in a subcategory for regulatory environment.

CNBC also called West Virginia the worst state for business in 2017, characterizing the state as “in an economic death spiral.”

The CNBC report wasn’t particularly critical of West Virginia’s regulatory environment. Instead, it focused on overall economic performance and the low educational attainment of the state’s workforce.

Justice, in January, issued two executive orders dealing with regulations.

One put a moratorium on new administrative rules. The other called for full agency regulatory reviews.

Today’s executive order carries the same theme.

“Whereas, West Virginia’s State regulatory system over-regulates our citizens; and Whereas, over-regulation has increased the complexity and expense of economic life for all West Virginians,” the executive order begins.

If a project considered economically critical hasn’t had its permitting completed within 90 days, the appropriate agency is supposed to issue a written report on the status. This report would go to the applicant and to the Development Office director.

At the 135-day mark, the agency would issue another written report on the status of the application.

And at the 180-day mark, a final written report would describe the permit’s status. The recipients of this report would be expanded to include the governor.

A certificate of critical economic concern expires two years from the date it is issued. It may be extended for an additional period of two years at the discretion of the Development Office director.

The executive order says that starting in 2019, the Development Office director is to prepare an annual report assessing whether the program is working successfully.


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