Thursday, December 10, 2015

PA Environmental Council Opposes Budget Bill Killing Conventional Drilling Regulations

The Senate and House Republicans again added a provision to the Fiscal Code bill-- House Bill 1327 (Peifer-R-Pike) -- to invalidate the regulations DEP proposed to ensure conventional oil and gas wells protect the environment and make DEP start the regulatory process over.
The Senate and House did the same thing in July in Senate Bill 655 (Browne-R-Lehigh) as part of the first budget, but Gov. Wolf vetoed the entire package.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council has consistently expressed its opposition to the provision to kill the regulations saying the regulations have undergone the most rigorous public review process of any regulation in the 45-year history of modern environmental programs.
PEC wrote to all members of the Senate Thursday urging lawmakers to remove the provision from the Fiscal Code bill.  The text of the letter follows--
On behalf of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, I am writing to convey our continued opposition to the use of Fiscal Code legislation to inhibit or undo environmental protections. We believe this practice, used with increasing frequency by the General Assembly, is against the public interest and likely unconstitutional.
Wednesday House Bill 1327 (P.N. 2650) was amended to include language abrogating proposed rulemaking by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection with respect to conventional oil and gas operations. This proposed rulemaking was developed in response to legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2012 and signed into law by Governor Corbett; rulemaking that has been subject to 12 public hearings, 2 separate public comment periods, and more than a dozen public meetings with the oil & gas technical advisory board.
This legislative amendment has not been afforded proper public consideration. Instead, it has been buried in omnibus legislation that, due to long-overdue resolution of the Commonwealth’s budget, will be virtually impossible to untangle or be vetted on its own merits.  There are serious questions as to whether inclusion of this provision in the Fiscal Code violates the single subject rule of the Pennsylvania Constitution; not to mention the Environmental Rights Amendment of Article I, Section 27.
We urge you to remove this provision from House Bill 1327.
John Walliser
Senior Vice President, Legal & Government Affairs
Pennsylvania Environmental Council
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council. Click Here to sign up for regular updates from PEC.
Related Story:
Analysis: Myth-- Conventional Oil and Gas Drilling Is Benign

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