Friday, June 17, 2022

Post-Gazette Editorial: PA Republican Lawmakers Poised To Cost PA Billions In Highway Funding At Behest Of Oil & Gas Industry

This editorial first appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on June 17, 2022--

Republican state legislators are poised to cost Pennsylvania billions of dollars in federal highway funding at the behest of the oil and gas industry. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a collection of rules for emissions from oil and gas drilling sites that states must adopt, or else they will lose billions of possible dollars in federal highway funds. 

Pennsylvania is years behind schedule, and has a final deadline of Dec. 16, 2022.

It may be a kind of blackmail, but it’s effective — and it’s the law. It doesn’t matter what you think of the EPA’s rules: The way the regulations are set up, when the EPA says “jump,” Pennsylvania asks how high.

Unless you’re Daryl Metcalfe, the retiring Republican state legislator from Cranberry Township who has distinguished himself as one of Harrisburg’s most right-wing, and pugilistic, characters. 

A bosom friend of the oil and gas industry, Mr. Metcalfe chairs the State House’s Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, doing its job, proposed a set of clean air regulations that would comply with the EPA’s rules and apply to both conventional oil and gas and shale gas extraction. 

But that regulation has to be rubber stamped by Mr. Metcalfe’s committee, which has objected, arguing that a 2016 state law requires that conventional and shale resources be regulated separately.

In response, on Tuesday the state’s Environmental Quality Board passed satisfactory regulations on the shale part of the industry. 

Now the question is: Can the DEP and EQB break out the conventional regulations from the combined rule and vote on them in short order? Or must they begin the rulemaking process again, from the very beginning, which would take at least two years?

Pennsylvania doesn’t have two years, but Mr. Metcalfe’s committee wants to require it. 

The party of small and efficient government is intentionally gumming up the work of state authorities. 

And for no reason.

The already-written regulation does not need to be reworked. Whatever game the Republican legislators think they’re playing, it’s a game that will only hurt Pennsylvania. 

They’re risking taxpayer dollars that should belong to Pennsylvania to play it. 

If the GOP wants to challenge the EPA’s rules and powers, they should do so through the proper channels: through filing challenges in the courts and winning control of the executive branch. 

Playing tough with the feds wastes time and money. It will make a difference in the highways we drive on, especially how safe they are.

Worse, in a time when Americans rightly worry about their democracy, the Republicans’ stunt contributes to the public’s sense that government today is nothing more than a game for insiders, rather than grown-up work performed by serious men and women for the good of the people of Pennsylvania. 

(Photo: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)

Related Articles:

-- EQB Adopts Part I Of Final Regulation Reducing Oil & Gas VOC/Methane Emissions; DEP Documents 80% Of Methane Emissions Come From Conventional Oil & Gas Facilities  

-- Who’s Protecting Taxpayers?  House To Take Up Bill Exempting Conventional Oil & Gas Wells From Plugging Bonds Sticking Taxpayers With $5.1 Billion In Cleanup Liability

-- Oil & Natural Gas Facility Health Impacts Assessment Bill Introduced In The House 

[Posted: June 17, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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