New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Commissioner
In recognition of the 25th Anniversary of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, over the course of the year, I will highlight 25 agency activities, programs, projects and accomplishments of the past 25 years.
This article, the first in the series, relates to DES’s permitting responsibilities.
If you were to apply to DES today for an environmental permit, it’s likely that it would be processed in a short period of time, and more quickly than if you applied for a comparable environmental permit from any of the other New England states.
But it wasn’t always this way. Environmental permitting in New Hampshire was often disjointed, time consuming, and fraught with uncertainty for homeowners, business people and municipal officials because four separate state agencies were responsible for ensuring protection of our air, water, and for waste management.
To complicate matters, those agencies didn’t always talk to each other! In response, twenty-five years ago, the legislature formed DES to create a centralized system to oversee environmental permitting, improve coordination across programs, ensure appropriate opportunity for public review and comment, and streamline processing while ensuring that our environment would be protected and restored as the state’s economy continues to grow.