Friday, November 13, 2020

Senate Republicans To Consider Bill Rolling Back Environmental Protection Requirements For Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Nov. 16

Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to meet November 16 to consider Senate Bill 790 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson) that would significantly reduce requirements for protecting the environment from conventional oil and gas drilling.
The bill was passed by House Republicans in May and is in the Senate for a concurrence vote.  The Senate can pass the bill as is or amend it and send it back to the House for their action.

The Senate Rules Committee will meet off the floor, meaning there is no set time for the meeting.  It could be at any time after the Senate convenes at 1:00 p.m. on November 16.  Click Here to watch the meeting online.

The bill originally contained provisions legalizing the road dumping of drilling wastewater, but they were taken out in the House.  The Senate, of course, can put them back in if they want.

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

Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) serves as Majority Chair of the Committee, and can be contacted by calling 717-787-1377 or send email to:   Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7683 or send email to:


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.

The bill is a companion to House Bill 1635 (Causer-R-Cameron) also introduced in June.  The language in House Bill 1635 passed the House last session as House Bill 2154, moved to the Senate and reported out of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and was awaiting action on the Senate Calendar when the session ended.

Senate Bill 790 has different provisions than House Bill 1635 which turns back the clock of environmental regulation of conventional wells all the way back to 1984.  Click Here for more background.

(Photo: Leaking conventional well.)

Related Article This Week:

-- NEW DATE: House Environmental Committee Meets Nov. 17 On Bill Redefining Water Pollution, Letting Companies Decide When They Report Spills

-- DEP Orders Energy Transfer Partners To Keep Natural Gas Out Of Unstable Sections Of Revolution Pipeline That Exploded In 2018

Related Articles:

-- DEP Reports Conventional Oil & Gas Wells Had Nearly Twice The Violations Of Shale Gas Wells; DEP To Develop New Conventional Drilling Regs

-- DEP: Conventional Oil & Gas Well Violations More Than Triple Between 2015-2017

-- Post-Gazette: PA Faces New Wave Of Abandoned Conventional Oil & Gas Wells

-- 195 Groups Oppose SB 790 Reducing Conventional Drilling Environmental Protections, House Set For Final Vote

-- PEC, EDF: Senate Bill 790 Includes Dramatic Reductions In Health, Environmental Protections From Impacts Of Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling

[Posted: November 13, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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