A group of 19 members of the House members led by Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Minority Chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Thursday sent a letter to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission urging approval of DEP’s final regulations that would make conventional and unconventional oil and gas drilling safer in Pennsylvania.
IRRC, the agency created to review Commonwealth agency regulations to ensure they are in the public interest, is scheduled to consider the regulations at its April 21 hearing.
Rep. Vitali said the regulations would enhance public resource protections, including those for state parks and forests, playgrounds, schools and public water supplies; provide for pre-drilling review of potential abandoned and operating wells; require water supply restoration standards for operators who degrade a water supply; and enhanced spill reporting and cleanup requirements.
The final Chapter 78 (conventional) and Chapter 78a (unconventional) drilling regulation updates were promulgated in accordance with Act 13 of 2012, and have not been updated since 2001, so modernizing them is critical to ensure protection of Pennsylvania’s environment, the group’s letter states.
The drilling industry opposes the regulations and on March 24, the PA Independent Petroleum Producers Association filed a suit in Commonwealth Court challenging them.
The House and Senate can stop the regulations by passing a concurrent resolution disapproving them, which must be signed by the governor. If he vetoes, the General Assembly can override the veto by a two-thirds majority.
However, legislators supporting the regulations argue that after two public comment periods, 12 public hearings, two dozen advisory committee meetings and nearly 28,000 stakeholder comments, the issue has been thoroughly vetted and the time has come for the IRRC to adopt them.
A copy of the letter is available online.
For more information on the regulations, visit DEP’s Oil and Gas Regulations webpage.
Related Story:The Clock Starts: DEP Delivers Final Drilling Regs To House, Senate, IRRC For Review