The Senate and House Republicans are again considering adding 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.
Since passage of Act 13 the regulations were designed to implement in February of 2012, the regulations have been weighed by two Governors, three Secretaries of DEP, 15 meetings of the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Committee and later by a Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee specifically formed to review the regulations, 12 public hearings, two public comment periods, and three sessions of the General Assembly.
At every step, the public, industry, local government, environmental and community interests, and the General Assembly have been actively engaged as witnessed by the more than 25,000 comments DEP received during the review process.
Now that the final version of these regulations are due to be voted on by the Environmental Quality Board on February 3, the conventional oil and gas industry wants to kill the regulations and have DEP start over and delay protecting the environment for another two years.
DEP has documented through hundreds of photographs and in its most recent Oil and Gas Annual Report how conventional oil and gas drillers have at least 3 times the violations of unconventional (Marcellus Shale) drillers over the years.
They again want to do an end-run of the legislative process and slip a provision into a must-have budget-related bill to kill regulations they do not like.
Time will tell whether they will be successful.
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