The Maryland Department of the Environment has opened a new Environmental Permits Service Center aimed at more effectively controlling pollution while more efficiently handling permits for business.

The new center will coordinate environmental permit requests with MDE administrations, citizens, businesses and environmental groups. In addition, the center will provide current information about permit status and encourage communication among interested groups.

“Through the center, we will build partnerships between communities, government and industry,” said Environment Secretary David A.C. Carroll. “Businesses will be encouraged by EPSC staff to contact local community groups, environmental organizations and elected officials to establish a dialogue in the early stages of the permit application process. The EPSC is a new way of doing business.”

Each environmental permit will continue to be developed and issued by the appropriate administration within MDE. But the center’s “cross-trained” staff will coordinate permit requests among the administrations and will receive applications for most new and renewal permits. Carroll said the center would help take a comprehensive approach to permitting, taking into account all sources of pollution — air, water and land. Its staff will consult geographic information system information to gain a broader perspective on potential permitting impacts.

The center’s staff will also provide technical assistance to industry regarding pollution prevention and waste minimization methods.

The center will maintain a comprehensive tracking system for permit applications that includes permit status as well as relevant background information such as local zoning and potential community concerns.

For new businesses considering a Maryland location, the center will designate an expert team within MDE to explain the state’s environmental requirements and will coordinate with the Department of Economic and Employment Development to provide businesses with a complete description of both regulatory and economic considerations.

The center was scheduled to begin operation Dec. 1. For information, contact the center at (410) 631-3772.