Report: DEP Staffing Problem 'Will Not Abate Anytime Soon'
The State Journal
25 January 1013
By Taylor Kuykendall, Reporter
A review from a federal agency expresses concern that, among other
issues, the state environmental agency is facing ongoing staffing
The annual evaluation of the West Virginia Department of
Environmental Protection's regulatory and abandoned mine
reclamation program by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation
and Enforcement discusses the problem of staffing. According to
the report, in 2012, the WVDEP not only had fewer full-time
positions, but also had 34 vacancies.
Of those vacancies, 65 percent were in permitting and inspection
and enforcement divisions. In fiscal year 2012, the report states
the DEP had 270 full time equivalent positions, but only 236
"Although the state has increased its hiring efforts, the number
of vacancies increased slightly over prior years," the report
The WVDEP is projecting that in fiscal year 2013, its staff
positions will decline slightly to 268. It also expects to have
nearly 24 vacant positions in 2013.
"Given the number of people at WVDEP who will be eligible to
retire in the near future, state officials anticipate that its
vacancy problem will not abate any time soon, and they will be
faced with filling more vacant positions in the future," the
The state has already increased the filing fee for a surface
mining permit application and other permitting actions. The amount
of revenue expected to be gained from that is anticipated to be
limited, and DEP and OSM is working in cooperation to identify
other potential sources of revenue to fund the state regulatory
Though the rise of fees brought in additional revenue to the
WVDEP, it was not enough to offset the loss of revenue from the
A 2011 study noted in the report found that surrounding states
have higher staffing levels, despite West Virginia having higher
funding levels. The agency is struggling with filling staff faster
than current staff is retiring.
"Most of its existing vacancies are in the permitting and
inspection and enforcement programs," the report states. "WVDEP
increased its hiring efforts during the evaluation year, but given
the number of staff that is retiring, it has made little progress
in eliminating its backlog of vacancies. This is beginning
to impact on program areas as shown in a reduction in the state's
ability to meet its required number of inspections."
The report stated increased job posting at the end of the
evaluation year showed positive results.
A response to the report from the DEP did not address staffing
issues. The agency has acknowledged the staffing problem in the