The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) is the primary environmental agency for South Carolina and has been authorized by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy, and the Department of Commerce (NOAA) to administer federal environmental permitting programs in conjunction with associated state programs.
In 1993, the legislature enacted the "Environmental Protection Fund Act" authorizing a broad based fee program for the department. The Act was written and supported by the SC Chamber of Commerce and others in the regulated community. Subsequently, in 1995, the department promulgated a regulation, R.61-30 'Environmental Protection Fees', establishing a program for the assessment and collection of fees for environmental programs administered by the Offices of Environmental Quality Control and Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. This regulation includes schedules for timely action on permit applications. These schedules are intended as a management tool for the timely review of applications, and contain measures requiring the department to return application fees if the schedules are not met in accordance with the regulation.
A quarterly report is made to the SCDHEC Board, which includes fees set and established under this regulation, number of applications received and number of permits issued by each permitting program, adherence to the time schedules as listed in R.61-30, the backlog of permit applications awaiting review, and the amount collected and expended by each fee source. This report also includes permit actions outside the purview of R.61-30.
For the Fiscal Years 2006 - 2010, the total number of applications received ranged from a high of 35,588 in FY 2006 (33,245 permit decisions) to a low of 22,722 (21,845 permit decisions) in FY 2010. For those permit decisions subject to the fee regulations the percentage of permit decisions made within the regulatory timeframe averaged 98.21%.
In FY 2011, the mid-year application total is 10,921. Permits issued by mid-year FY 2011 have totaled 10,724 with percentage of permit decisions made within the regulatory timeframe being 99.49%. While the rate of applications received thus far in mid-year FY 2011 are slightly up from FY 2010, the rate is approximately 33% less than FY 2007 and FY 2008.
Fees, including both application and annual operating, are collected under R.61-30. Fees received by the Office of Environmental Quality Control ranged from a low of $12,703,298 in FY 2006 to a high of $13,936,315 in FY 2007. Fees received for FY 2010 were $12,750,164.