Clean Air Council * Clean Water Action * Delaware Riverkeeper Network * Earthworks * Penn Future * Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter
Harrisburg, PA, June 8, 2016— The above-listed organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, oppose SB 279 (the “Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council” bill), which passed the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee this morning.
The bill is a blatant attempt to eliminate new regulations for conventional oil and gas operations (25 PA Code Chapter 78) and use state resources to promote the industry. This legislative action ignores a long public process and circumvents Pennsylvania’s regulatory system. Most importantly, it would deprive Pennsylvania residents of much needed protections for their air, water, and health.
Passage would make Pennsylvania the only state in the nation to abandon oil and gas regulations after they’ve been fully developed and vetted. Other states have added on to their regulations to cover new shale operations, but have never completely exempted existing conventional operations in the process.
Over the course of nearly five years, DEP revised the new oil and gas regulations through a transparent process, including 12 public hearings and nearly 30,000 comments submitted by residents, industry, environmental organizations, and local and state officials.
The legislature has always recognized that regulation is part of the cost of doing business in Pennsylvania communities and pursuing environmentally risky practices. In 2012, the legislature passed Act 13, directing DEP to develop new oil and gas regulations. In 2014, the legislature passed Act 126, explicitly requiring DEP to create regulations for conventional operations (Chapter 78), as well as for unconventional operations (Chapter 78a).
SB 279 would enact an advisory council made up primarily of industry representatives. The intent of this body can only be construed to give industry undue influence on government, and to guarantee that any future regulations related to conventional drilling support industry’s interests. The establishment of such a council is clearly unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer resources, as a Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee already exists.
For years, Pennsylvanians have asked for stronger, updated oil and gas regulations. The attempt now to prevent their adoption and give the industry and the legislature greater influence over the regulatory process is both irresponsible and an affront to the public interest.