During the site selection process, the project team should make an initial contact with state and local authorities who are responsible for environmental regulation and relevant zoning permits. The project team should confirm that no pre-existing conditions exist that may make the site difficult or impossible to permit in a timely fashion.
The permit process varies from state-to-state and local jurisdictions may also require specific action steps that can affect the project development time-frame. This initial review of permit requirements will help familiarize the project team with state and local contacts in the various regulatory agencies. Discussions with regulatory officials will also help define the time-frame in which a project can reasonably be expected to receive permits.
Permit applications require technical data that is generally supplied by the engineering or development firm(s) selected to design and build the ethanol plant. Since the project team may not have contracted with such a firm early in the development process, the project team may not be able to provide detailed information to regulatory authorities.
However, an initial review of this process is important to project developers and regulatory officials alike. As noted, this process can accomplish the following:
- Orient project developers to tasks the engineering firm or permit consultant will be performing.
- Familiarize state and local regulatory officials with constituents who will be involved in development of the project, thereby providing a local contact.
- Familiarize project developers with state and local contacts in the regulatory agencies that will have jurisdiction during the various permit processes
- Determine any pre-existing conditions that may make a site unsuitable for an ethanol plant
- Familiarize the project developers with the time-frame in which various permits can be issued