Bill of Rights
Environmental Protection Agency
Bill of Rights for Environmental Permit Applicants
California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) recognizes that many complex issues must be addressed when pursuing reforms of environmental permits and that significant challenges remain. We have initiated reforms and intend to continue the effort to make environmental permitting more efficient, less costly, and to ensure that those seeking permits receive timely responses from the boards and departments of the Cal/EPA. To further this goal, Cal/EPA endorses the following precepts that form the basis of a permit applicant's "Bill of Rights."
- Permit applicants have the right to assistance
in understanding regulatory and permit requirements.
All Cal/EPA programs maintain an Ombudsman to work
directly with applicants. Permit Assistance Centers
located throughout California have permit specialists
from all the State, regional, and local agencies
to identify permit requirements and assist in permit
- Permit applicants have the right to know the projected
fees for review of applications, how any costs will
be determined and billed, and procedures for resolving
any disputes over fee billings.
- Permit applicants have the right of access to complete
and clearly written guidance documents that explain
the regulatory requirements. Agencies must publish
a list of all information required in a permit application
and of criteria used to determine whether the submitted
information is adequate.
- Permit applicants have the right of timely completeness
determinations for their applications. In general,
agencies notify the applicant within 30 days of
any deficiencies or determine that the application
is complete. California Environmental Quality Act
(CEQA) and public hearing requests may require additional
- Permit applicants have the right to know exactly
how their applications are deficient and what further
information is needed to make their applications
complete. Pursuant to California Government code
Section 65944, after an application is accepted
as complete, an agency may not request any new or
additional information that was not specified in
the original application.
- Permit applicants have the right of a timely decision
on their permit application. The agencies are required
to establish time limits for permit reviews.
- Permit applicants have the right to appeal permit
review time limits by statute or administratively
that have been violated without good cause. For
state environmental agencies, appeals are made directly
to the Cal/EPA Secretary or to a specific board.
For local environmental agencies, appeals are generally
made to the local governing board or, under certain
circumstances, to Cal/EPA. Through this appeal,
applicants may obtain a set date for a decision
on their permit and, in some cases, a refund of
all application fees (ask boards and departments
- Permit applicants have the right to work with a
single lead agency where multiple environmental
approvals are needed. For multiple permits, all
agency actions can be consolidated under a lead
agency. For site remediation, all applicable laws
can be administered through a single agency.
- Permit applicants have the right to know who will be reviewing their application and the time required to complete the full review process.