Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Senate Environmental Committee OKs Bill To Weaken Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Standards

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Tuesday approved and reported out House Bill 2154 (Causer-R-Cameron) which would weaken environmental standards for conventional (not Shale) oil and gas drilling in a party line vote (Republicans supporting).
The bill now goes to the full Senate for action.
On Monday, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell wrote to members of the Senate Environmental Committee urging them to oppose House Bill 2154.
“DEP has repeatedly offered to engage with the regulated community to craft a solution that addresses the conventional industry’s concerns while remaining protective of public health and safety and the environment, including an offer to convene a summer workgroup to draft a new piece of legislation.
“Unfortunately, instead, leadership from the community has continued to press forward with a piece of legislation which is so badly flawed it does not present a starting point for discussions.
“As written, the bill presents environmental and public health risks and loosens current environmental protections to the point, in some cases, of nullification.”
Click Here for a copy of Secretary McDonnell’s letter.
The PA Environmental Council and Environmental Defense Fund also expressed their opposition to the bill, saying “It is our position that common-sense, practical solutions exist to address the concerns of small company operators. However, HB 2154 is a wholesale unraveling of protections that were established with the bipartisan enactment of Act 13 of 2012.
“In fact, this legislation would result in a law even weaker than the 1984 Oil and Gas Act in many important respects.
“Considering that the Department of Environmental Protection’s recent 2017 Oil and Gas Report findings that the number of conventional oil and gas well violations more than tripled between 2015 (1,024) and 2017 (3,273), the timing and design of this legislation is ill-advised.
“If this legislation were to pass, Pennsylvania would have the discreditable distinction of being the only state to significantly reduce environmental protection, best practices and the use of new technology related to oil and gas development in the modern era, walking back decades-old protections and operating standards that are accepted by both the industry at large and other oil and gas producing states.”
Click Here for a copy of the letter by PEC and EDF.
Other Action
The Committee also reported out Senate Resolution 214 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) urging Pennsylvania natural gas producers to export gas to European countries in an effort to curtail the monopoly that Russia has on supply to that region (sponsor summary).
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-3280 or sending email to: gyaw@pasen.gov.   Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7105 or sending email to: yudichak@pasenate.com.
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