On August 24, of this year, the Environmental Company of the State of São Paulo (Companhia Ambiental do Estado de São Paulo - Cetesb) issued Board Decision 081/2022/P, which updates the procedures to be observed mainly in the environmental licensing process. Following, on 5 September, it was issued the Board Decision 085/2022/P, which brought changes and inclusions to the former, expanding its applicability to other licensor administrative processes, such as those related to vegetation suppression authorizations, intervention in Permanent Environmental Protected Area (Área de Preservação Permanente - APP)license permit, among others.

Before the issuance of these two board decisions, the entrepreneur was guided by the Law 10.177/98, which regulates the administrative process within the state public administration. Considering, however, that this law establishes only general procedures, the board decisions have the purpose of disciplining details of the licensing processes that are carried out at Cetesb, according to their particularities.

Among others, the two decisions address parameters for the environmental licensing process in the state of São Paulo and establish competencies and attributions for specific sectors of the environmental agency in the evaluation of technical studies that support environmental licensing processes. In addition, they consolidate the obligation to sign an Environmental Recovery Commitment Term or signature and registration of the Green Area for Lot Preservation Responsibility Term, in cases involving authorization to intervene in the Permanent Environmental Protected Area and/or tree suppression authorization.

Another highlight is the fact that the board's decisions provide specific procedures related to the informatization of licensor processes, which were already applied by the environmental agency, but are not addressed by Law 10.177/98.

The board's decisions regulate that the environmental licensing process will begin with the request protocol (SD) or request of those interested in the Environmental Licensing Portal used by Cetesb and, just as before, after the application for granting of environmental license was filed, the documents are forwarded to the platform e-environment, where communications between the environmental agency and the person concerned occur.

As for communication to the entrepreneur, Article 9 of Decision of the Board 081/2022/P determines that notifications of procedural progress must be forwarded to the interested party by message within the electronic platform.

Deadline counting

In addition, Article 11 of The Board's Decision 081/2022/P, amended by Board Decision 085/2022/P, establishes that, for term counting purposes, the date of the notifications will be considered that of the confirmation of reading of the task contained in the "Communicate" or automatically the tenth consecutive day, after sending the message to the address registered on the electronic platform. Therefore, the same logic provided for in Article 5, § 3, of Law 11.419/06, which regulates electronic judicial process, applies.

Also concerning the deadlines, Article 3 of The Board's Decision 081/2022/P reinforces that the counting must occur in accordance with State Law 10.177/98, which establishes that the deadlines must be counted in calendar days, unless expressly provide otherwise, without interruption on Sundays or holidays. Article 11, § 1, clarifies that the deadlines must be counted with the exclusion of the day of the beginning and the inclusion of expiration date.

Regarding environmental licensing processes, Board Decision 081/2022/P provided a minor change in the deadline to file administrative answer in cases of denial of the application for environmental license.

Before, the environmental agency applied, by analogy with Article 101 of the State Decree 8,468/76, the 20-day answer period. The Decision of the Board 081/2022/P, however, clarifies that the period of 15 days is applicable to file administrative answer against the decision which refused the license, counted from the day which the interested party was notified by the rejection decision, as defined in article 44 of State Law 10.177/98.

If the decision which denied the administrative answer by the judgment authority is maintained, the interested party concerned shall also be given an administrative appeal within 15 days. The judgment authority of first instance may, within five days from the date of receipt of the case, reconsider its decision. There is no appeal against the decision given at second instance. The Decision of the Board 081/2022/P did not bring innovations on the deadlines established in State Law 10.177/98 in this sense.

Board Decision 081/2022/P also established that processes that remain paralyzed for more than 120 days awaiting action from the entrepreneur will be filed by Cetesb. It will be possible to request an extension of the deadline, provided that the request is submitted before the deadline.

The board's decisions can be seen as an advance in the modernization of licensor processes and environmental authorizations, as they aim to standardize the processing of administrative procedures conducted by Cetesb and provide greater clarity to entrepreneurs both in relation to the use of the online platform and the monitoring of the progress of cases and in relation to the deadlines to be observed.