Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Senate Committee Approves Resolutions Directing Review Of DEP Permit Programs, Ending State Forest Drilling Moratorium

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Tuesday approved resolutions to require an independent performance evaluation of two of DEP’s permitting programs critical to development and to end the moratorium on drilling on state forest land.
The legislation approved by the Committee includes--
-- Senate Resolution 226 (Yudichak-D-Luzerne) directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct an independent performance evaluation of DEP’s Chapter 102 Erosion and Sedimentation) and Chapter 105 (Water Obstruction and Encroachment) permitting programs (sponsor summary) Click Here for more;
“Democrats and Republicans, as well as business leaders and environmental groups, can all agree that DEP’s permitting must improve if we are to continue creating jobs and protecting the environment,” said Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair of the Committee.  “With DEP staffing levels at historic lows and turnaround times frustratingly long, Senate Resolution 226 will provide us the necessary baseline data to improve the efficiency of DEP’s environmental permitting process.”
-- Senate Resolution 104 (Bartolotta-R-Washington) resolution urging the Governor to end the moratorium on new non-surface disturbance natural gas drilling on state forest land (sponsor summary) was reported out with Republicans supporting, Democrats opposed.
Gov. Wolf's press secretary JJ Abbott reiterated the Governor remains opposed to more drilling in state parks and forests--
"Natural gas development is vital to Pennsylvania’s economy, but so is the economic and environmental viability of our parks and forests," he said.
"Gov. Wolf believes we currently have the right balance as our state parks and forests are unique assets that should be preserved, protected, and utilized by our residents for recreational purposes. Gov. Wolf has focused on finding opportunities to grow our recreational and tourism economy through a revitalized parks and forest system that ensures we are preserving our natural resources and protecting our people and the environment;"
-- House Bill 1341 (Pyle-R-Armstrong) further providing for training and certification of emergency medical personnel responding to bituminous deep mine accidents (House Fiscal Note and summary); and
-- House Bill 1486 (Zimmerman-R-Lancaster) exempting agricultural high-tunnel structures from the Stormwater Management Act (House Fiscal Note and summary), with opposition from the departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, with one opposing vote.
The resolutions and bills now go to the full Senate.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee and can be contacted by sending email to: gyaw@pasen.gov.   Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to: yudichak@pasenate.com.
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