The PA Environmental Council released this statement in response to Senate action Monday to amend and pass Senate Bill 1229 (Vogel-R-Beaver) which now contains language offered by Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny) that weakens DEP’s Chapter 78 Marcellus Shale drilling regulations with respect to waste disposal reporting, restoration of drilling sites and on-site water storage standards.
The bill now goes to the House for a concurrence vote.
The text of the statement follows--
Today the Senate quickly amended and passed legislation -- Senate Bill 1229, a catch-all Administrative Code bill that accompanies the state budget – to include provisions that weaken proposed final regulations for unconventional oil and gas operations.
Specifically, the amendments diminish waste disposal reporting, drilling site restoration, and on-site water storage requirements.
Senate Bill 1229 had not been voted on before by either the House or Senate, or considered by any Committee of either chamber with jurisdiction over environmental issues.
There was no public discussion of the amendment language.
Only last month the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 279, which abrogated proposed regulations for the conventional industry. That bill provided the General Assembly with full opportunity to address proposed regulations for the unconventional industry, which they deliberately chose not to do.
No justification has been provided for why it is now being done via the state budget.
PEC has, and continues to be, strongly opposed to using the state budget process to pass substantive environmental revisions.
Senate Bill 1229 is merely the latest in long series of attempts over the years, many successful, some not, to piggyback language that directly affects environmental protection.
We oppose the substance of the amendments to Senate Bill 1229, and the process used to shuttle them through without due public notice or dialogue. We urge the House and Governor to reject this unwarranted attempt to rewrite environmental law through the state budget.
Senior Vice President, Legal & Government Affairs
Pennsylvania Environmental Council
According to the PA Environmental Council, the amendment (page 6 of the bill) addresses three issues that were a concern of the Marcellus Shale drilling industry during consideration of the final Chapter 78 regulations--
-- Waste Disposal Reporting: The amendment requires unconventional drillers to report the amount and type of waste they produce and how it is disposed every six months. DEP’s final regulations require monthly reporting.
-- Drilling Site Restoration: The amendment allows unconventional drillers to start restoration of a drill site within 24 months of when the last well was drilled on the drill pad or when the last permit expired for all the wells on a drill pad. DEP regulations require restoration to start within 9 months.
-- On-Site Water Storage Standards: The amendment prohibits DEP from setting on-site water storage standards for unconventional oil and gas well drilling that are more stringent than those required for the storage of surface water, fresh groundwater or for water obtained from public water suppliers for other uses.
There are no generally accepted standards for facilities storing surface water (except perhaps stormwater) or “fresh” groundwater outside of DEP’s Chapter 78 regulations for unconventional drilling operations. DEP’s final regulations require a water storage area to be lined, have a perimeter fence to prevent public access and to be located above the local groundwater table.
Click Here for the text of Senate Bill 1229 as amended by the Senate.
PEC also said another provision added by the Senate (page 7 of the bill) that was not previously considered by the Senate or House says only solar electric generation facilities connected to electric distribution companies within the Commonwealth would count toward meeting the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards solar energy requirements.
This provision was contained in House Bill 2040 (F.Keller-R-Snyder) introduced in the House in May.For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on Facebook. Click Here to receive regular updates from PEC.
Senate Approves Bill Weakening Drilling Regs, Wolf Will Veto