Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Senate Republicans Send Bill Rolling Back Environmental Protection Standards For Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling To Governor

On November 17, Senate concurred in
Senate Bill 790 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson) that would significantly reduce requirements for protecting the environment from conventional oil and gas drilling by a vote of 29 to 19-- Republicans supporting-- sending the bill to Gov. Wolf for his action.

Gov. Wolf has said he would veto the bill because it contains significant flaws.  Read more here.

This is no-doubt a going-away present for Sen. Scarnati, the prime sponsor, because he’s retiring this year.


Over 195 statewide and local environmental groups and over 1,655 citizens have made it clear to legislators they oppose this legislation. Click Here for more.

Gov. Wolf has promised to veto the bill because it contains significant flaws.

The PA Environmental Council and the Environmental Defense Fund outlined their opposition to key provisions in the bill in a May 27 letter to all House members

The concerns included--

-- Water Supplies: Removes requirement drillers must replace water supplies damaged by drilling with one that meets Safe Drinking Water Act standards;

-- Inadequate Bonding: The bill arbitrarily limits bonding and other financial assurance measures increasing the risk of another generation of remediation costs that must be borne by taxpayers;

-- Spill Not Reporting: The bill would not require any reporting of brine spills of any volumen provided they are below 10,000 mg/kg total dissolved solids which can be damaging to land and water resources; and

-- Well Integrity & Plugging: The bill relaxes well integrity, groundwater protection and plugging and remediation standards that run counter to common industry practices already employed in Pennsylvania today.

Click Here for a copy of the letter.

Senate Bill 790 was introduced as a follow up to action by the General Assembly to kill DEP’s final updated conventional drilling regulations in 2016 because the industry thought they were too strict.

The law then created the PA Grade Crude Development Advisory Council, made up of all industry-related individuals, that was supposed to “advise” DEP on development a new update to the conventional drilling regulations, but so far no draft regulations have been discussed by the Council since it was created in 2016.

DEP said in September it plans to move ahead with developing updated regulations covering conventional drilling since “legislative discussions have not resulted in a viable product….”  Read more here.

(Photo: Leaking conventional well.)

[Posted: November 17, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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