The Office of Attorney General this week approved DEP’s Chapter 78 (conventional) and 78a (unconventional) drilling regulations for publication in the PA Bulletin. Once published, the regulations will go into effect.
However, the General Assembly passed and Gov. Wolf signed into law Act 52 in June which abrogates the Chapter 78 regulations covering conventional oil and gas wells preventing them from going into effect.
The new law makes DEP start the rulemaking process over for setting updated environmental protection standards for conventional wells.
In response to a letter on June 23 from J. Andrew Crompton, General Counsel to the Senate Republican Caucus, the Joint Senate/House Committee on Documents, which oversees publication of the PA Bulletin by the Legislative Reference Bureau, has scheduled a meeting for August 18.
The letter expressed concerns about how the Legislative Reference Bureau would treat publication of the Chapter 78 regulations to comply with Act 52 and the abrogation of the conventional well regulations.
The letter adds, “Furthermore, there are areas of ambiguity and internal inconsistency within the final regulations, which were previously raised during the Environmental Quality Board’s rulemaking process. It is important that the Committee address such issues to ensure that the Bureau is able to complete its statutory responsibility to prepare the regulations for publication.”
It is not clear at this point what areas of “ambiguity and internal inconsistency” there may be in the regulations and what changes will be discussed by the Committee.
Senate Republicans added an amendment to Senate Bill 1229 (Vogel-R-Beaver) in June to weaken the Chapter 78a unconventional (Marcellus Shale) drilling regulations and then passed the bill on to the House for a concurrence vote.
The meeting of the Joint Committee will be in Room 461 Main Capitol starting at 11:00 a.m. For more information, contact Leah Brown, Legislative Reference Bureau, 717-783-1530.
Related Stories:EQB Overwhelmingly Approves Final Chapter 78, 78a Drilling Regulations