Over the winter, a thousand job creators attended our red tape workshops to share their ideas for improving Maine's worst-in-the-country regulatory environment. There were many great suggestions about the need for common sense reform to standards and regulations.
As I promised, the work requiring statutory changes is happening in the light of day as part of the legislative process. Lawmakers are taking comments and concerns from all Mainers and I appreciate their steady work. By the end of the session, we will have made significant progress on reform.
For many job creators, the biggest frustrations they face do not involve a specific standard or a regulation. The focus of their concern was the lack of cooperation they receive from state agencies as they look to invest in Maine's future.
Creating a culture of cooperation in state government does not happen with the passage of the bill or the signing of an executive order. It takes hard and consistent work.
And it is getting done now all across state government. I will be sharing many of these success stories with you. Today, the focus is on the agency where a can-do approach can arguably make the most difference for Maine.
Commissioner Darryl Brown, his leadership team, and the entire staff at the Department of Environmental Protection are making great strides in their approach to working with the private sector.
For starters, DEP has restructured its Office of Innovation and Assistance to help businesses navigate the permitting process. The agency's Small Business Ombudsman will be doing more outreach to meet directly with business owners to discuss their concerns.
The Department of Environmental Protection is conducting a thorough review of all existing rules and regulations to see where there is room to reduce burdens on businesses.
One great example are the improvements made to the DEP's wipe policy impacting solvent-contaminated shop towels, rags, floor mats and other items used for cleanup in industrial settings.
The eight-page policy had been on the books since 2005 and was a major source of frustration for businesses.
We have updated and streamlined the policy down to just two pages, removing required paperwork and burden. When practical, the policy now allows businesses to launder, recycle and reuse wipes that are not saturated with solvents. This common-sense reform will cut down on the amount of [costly hazardous waste] that often has to be shipped out of state for disposal.
When dealing with applicants, the DEP has a new commitment to improving turnaround times while still ensuring a thorough review.
The Bangor and Augusta offices completed review of an amendment application for an expansion of the Eastport Port Authority in the minimum 20 days allowed by law, saving the project an additional $500,000 in costs. DEP also worked with the federal Army Corps of Engineers to stress the importance of a timely decision as part of its review.
Working together with the Department of Economic and Community Development, DEP staff in the land and water bureaus helped save 170 jobs at the Hartland tannery.
The cooperative approach DEP is taking to achieving compliance is literally helping to save the town of Hartland, and I appreciate the effort of every agency official involved.
Protecting our environment is crucial to developing our economy. There is no better example of how DEP can help than in its response this week to a 1,000-gallon oil spill in Down East, Maine, upstream from a major salmon hatchery.
Collaborating with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Marine Resources, the incident was contained and remediated with very little negative impact on the environment and the fisheries.
Creating jobs and prosperity in Maine is an undertaking that will need to move forward on several fronts. I am pleased to report we are already making very good progress at Maine's Department of Environmental Protection. And I thank everyone involved in the effort.