Thursday, April 21, 2016

IRRC Votes To Approve Final DEP Drilling Regs., But House & Senate Will Have Their Say

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission voted 3 to 2 to approve DEP’s final Chapter 78 (conventional) and 78a (unconventional, Marcellus Shale) drilling regulations at its meeting Thursday after 7 hours of hearing from DEP and those opposing and supporting the rulemaking.
The IRRC first voted 3 to 2 against a motion by Commissioners John Mizner and Russell Faber to disapprove the regulations that gave these reasons for disapproval--
-- DEP did not provide enough information on the cost impact of the regulation on conventional well drilling;
-- DEP has not meet its burden to show the conventional regulation changes are needed;
-- The Regulatory Review Act requires agencies to show flexibility in considering impacts on small business and the final regulations did not;
--  DEP did not adequately consult with its advisory committees on this regulation; and
--  DEP did not do enough to develop a consensus on the regulation with industry.
IRRC Commissioners George Bedwick, Murray Ufberg and Dennis Watson voted to approve the drilling regulations.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, issued a statement Friday calling for action on a House/Senate disapproval resolution on DEP’s final drilling regulations.
A Senate/House concurrent resolution disapproving would have to be reported out of one of the Senate or House Environmental Committees within 14 days of receiving the IRRC order on the DEP drilling regulations.
The Senate and House would have 30 calendar days or 10 voting session days, whichever is longer, from the date the resolution is reported out of Committee to pass the concurrent resolution disapproving the regulation and present it to the Governor for his action.
The Governor can then sign or veto the resolution.  His veto is subject to being overridden by both the Senate and House by two-thirds vote.
On April 12, both Committees voted to disapprove the regulations, largely along party lines.
Representatives of the conventional oil and gas drillers challenged DEP’s drilling rules in Commonwealth Court and their challenge was denied because the issue was not yet ripe.  An appeal of that decision was denied on Wednesday by the PA Supreme Court and allowed the IRRC meeting to continue.
Commission OKs Environmental Rules For Drilling
4 Environmental Groups Urge IRRC To Approve DEP Drilling Regs Thursday

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