Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Enacts Coastal Zone Law Regulation Amendments Effective October 1, 2019 | Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP


On June 28, 1971, the Delaware Coastal Zone Act (the “Act”) was enacted to protect Delaware’s coastal areas from the effects of heavy industry uses and offshore bulk transfer facilities. protected area is the Delaware coastline along the Delaware River and Delaware Bays, extending from the Delaware-Pennsylvania line in a southerly direction to the Maryland line. The law prohibited the construction of new heavy industry uses in the Delaware coastal area and generally prohibited new offshore bulk transfer facilities outside the Port of Wilmington. The law regulates existing heavy industrial uses and new and existing manufacturing uses in the coastal zone.

On August 2, 2017, the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act (“CZCPA”) was enacted to allow the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (“DNREC”) to issue conversion permits for new heavy industry uses in the fourteen (14) heavy industry sites in the Delaware coastal area, as well as for the bulk transfer of products. The DNREC was responsible for the development of the regulations in connection with the CZCPA, which regulations came into force on October 1, 2019.

In developing regulations for the CZCPA, the DNREC also made certain changes to the regulations already in force relating to the Act. In this regard, the DNREC has made the following revisions:

  • The information required for permit applications under the Act is considerably more robust, requiring, among other things, data to support any analysis provided, including citations of published peer review articles, models and reviews. modeling results and data sources.
  • The required environmental impact study accompanying an application must now:
    • Be certified by a Delaware registered professional engineer or professional geologist;
    • Provide, on an annual basis, the probable air, soil and water pollution likely to be generated by the proposed use;
    • The person who certifies the environmental impact study must provide an opinion as to whether the project or activity will in any way lead to a negative environmental impact on the coastal zone;
    • Show the impact on the watershed for the proposed project rather than just on the drainage in the area; and
    • Demonstrate the effect of project site preparation and facility operation on the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater resources, including abstractions and discharges, identification of sources of water supply potentially affected water and public and private wastewater treatment facilities.
  • An analysis of economic effects is now required to show the number of jobs created, their classification as part-time / full-time / temporary / permanent, as well as their wages and salaries and the amount of tax revenue that will flow to state and local governments.
  • Any permits granted under the Act will now have a term of not more than twenty (20) years (or less at the discretion of the Secretary of the DNREC) – permits granted to date have no time limit.
  • Renewal of a license under the Act is now subject to the same requirements as for the issuance of an initial license.
  • A new process is established to amend a license under the Act.
    • A minor modification is available for administrative changes such as spelling corrections or grammatical errors.
    • A major amendment is required to change the ownership, control or any substantive condition of a license. A major change requires public notice and a comment period as well as a public hearing at the discretion of the Secretary of the DNREC. Prior to the adoption of these regulations, license transfers under the Act simply required the submission of a written request to the secretary of the DNREC.

In addition to the changes described above, in order to obtain a conversion permit for one of the fourteen (14) designated sites or a bulk product transfer facility, there is a very robust authorization process which includes, among the other requirements already required for a permit under the Act: the submission of a plan for sea level rise and coastal storms to prepare for the potential impacts of sea level rise and coastal storms during the useful life of the project site; an environmental sanitation and stabilization plan; establishing and maintaining financial assurance through an approved financial assurance instrument; and strict record keeping and reporting requirements after licensing.

The full rules are available here.


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