Ohio's EPA regulators recently sped up the permit process to help an Evandale company make a major sale.
Ann Thompson of member station WVXU in Cincinnati reports.
By fast tracking permits, the EPA gave GE Aviation the additional thrust it needed to test its most advanced engine. The GE9X will power the Boeing 777X. The Emirates airlines’ committed to buy 300 GE9X engines worth 11-billion. Needless to say months earlier there was a sense of urgency in obtaining a necessary very complicated EPA permit for a building that will test the engine. GE’s Kevin Kanter looks back.
Kanter: If anything were to have gone wrong where we couldn't get the permit, or we couldn't build it here in Ohio, then we would have had to look to other locations, to other states, to build our facility. Or even globally, to build our facility.
But the EPA had a plan and together with the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency’s Brad Miller, sped it through in 5 months instead of the normal year to a year and a half.
Miller: What we did is... we usually get one to maybe two of these permits - every four or five years - of this complexity. We decided to take a team approach in processing this permit.
The approach was doubling the number of people on the case. The EPA may duplicate this plan around the state and could do it on a national level. Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally.
Nally: Governor Kasich has challenged myself and my team to "out-compete" some of our sister states, so we can keep jobs and keep capital in the state.
There are other examples including the Kensington oil and gas plant in eastern Ohio where air permits were issued in just nine months.
Nally: We're not giving the store away, we're just doing it right. And then with great partners like GE, coming in early in the process, bringing the team, bringing a good application to us, our Southwest Regional Air partners putting together a team to be able to review it, and then Ohio EPA interacting with U.S. EPA - just helps the whole process. And it's all about communication.
Key environmentalists appear to be on board. Executive Director of Green Umbrella Brewster Rhoads says as long as there’s adequate time to review permit applications and no cutting corners threatening public health and the environment, he’s fine with the current practice.