Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Republicans On Senate Appropriations Report Out Bills Taking Away DEP’s Authority For Carbon Pollution Reduction Programs, Kill Regulations By Doing Nothing

On September 8, the Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out legislation-- House Bill 2025 (Struzzi-R-Indiana)-- taking away DEP’s authority to adopt a Carbon Pollution Reduction Program for power plants.  Read more here.
Democrats on the Committee, with the exception of Sen. Pam Iovino (D-Allegheny), voted against the bill. And one Republican -- Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware) voted for the bill.
The Senate is expected to take a final vote on this bill September 9 sending it to the Governor. Gov. Wolf said he would veto this bill.
Republicans also reported out these bills on party-line votes, Democrats opposing--
-- Kill Regulations By Doing Nothing: Senate Bill 5 (DiSanto-R-Cumberland) authorizes the General Assembly to kill any final regulation by doing nothing.  Read more here.
The bill would require legislative approval of any economically significant final regulation or final-omitted regulation that has an impact of $1 million or more on a regulated community.
The bill requires the Independent Fiscal Office to estimate the cost of the regulation.  There is no requirement to calculate the environmental or economic benefits of a regulation or compare the cost to doing nothing.
In order for a final regulation approved by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission to go into effect, the Senate and House would have to adopt a concurrent resolution approving the regulation.
If one or both of the chambers failed to act, the final regulation would be deemed NOT approved and would be prohibited from taking effect.
House Republicans passed their own version of this bill-- House Bill 806 (Keefer-R -York) which is in the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee.  Read more here.
-- Shielding Violators From Enforcement: Senate Bill 253 (Phillips-Hill) would create yet more bureaucracy in each state agency called an Agency Regulatory Compliance Officer to arbitrarily establish policies for waiving fines or penalties for violators of regulations and law administered by the agency.  
The only requirement in the bill for a violator to be eligible for a waiver of fines or penalties is for “the regulated entity must report to the regulatory compliance officer the steps it has taken or will take to remedy the violation.”
The Regulatory Compliance Officer is authorized to issue an opinion within 20 business days of a person’s duties under a regulation for the agency and that opinion, or the failure to provide an opinion, could be used as a “complete defense” in any enforcement proceeding initiated by the agency and evidence of good faith conduct in other civil or criminal proceeding.
So not only would agency enforcement actions be blunted, any actions taken by citizens to enforce environmental or other statutes would be as well.
House Republicans passed their own version of this bill-- House Bill 762 (O’Neal-R- Washington)-- which is in the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee.  Read more here.
The bills now go to the full Senate for action.
Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and can be contacted at 717-787-1349 or send email to: pbrowne@pasen.gov.  Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted at 717-787-7112 or send email to: vincent.hughes@pasenate.com
[Posted: Sept. 8, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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