House Committee Takes First Step To Block DEP’s Entire Final Drilling Regulations
The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Tuesday voted 19 to 8 largely along party lines (Republicans supporting) to report out a House/Senate concurrent resolution disapproving DEP’s entire final Chapter 78 (conventional) and 78a (unconventional, Marcellus Shale) drilling regulations.
The resolution-- now known as House Concurrent Regulatory Review Resolution #1-- was officially reported across the Speaker’s desk during the token legislative session in the House on Wednesday.
Interesting note, this is the only one of the 4,500 or so Senate and House bills and resolutions that is not available online through the General Assembly’s website, at least so far. There are no sponsors or cosponsors listed as a result.
House Republicans Tuesday temporarily delayed consideration of the House Resolution to kill DEP’s final oil and gas drilling regulations to see if they could resolve some of the issues involved with the Administration.
The Administration responded with a statement saying, “Following the recent approval by the Independent Regulatory Review commission of these new regulations, the Governor is committed to working with the Legislature to further his Administration’s goal of improving the protection of water and public resources, public health and safety, and addresses landowner concerns, enhances transparency, and improves data management.”
As pointed out in another PA Environment Digest article, the Wolf Administration may be trying to cut a deal with Republicans to save whatever pieces of the regulation they can.
The full House is expected to take final action on the resolution when it returns to session on May 16, unless some sort of deal is reached.
A Senate vote on the disapproval resolution is virtually assured if the House takes action..
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, issued a statement April 22 (Earth Day) calling for action on a House/Senate disapproval resolution on the drilling regulations.
The opponents of DEP’s drilling regulations argued the regulation did follow proper procedures under the Regulatory Review Act and did not comply with Act 126 of 2014 requiring separate regulations for conventional and unconventional drilling.
In response, proponents said the regulations are obviously divided into two chapters-- Chapter 78 covers conventional drilling and Chapter 78a covers unconventional drilling.
Proponents also said the Independent Regulatory Review Commission April 21 approval of DEP’s regulations found the regulation did comply with applicable state law, including the Regulatory Review Act, and were in the public interest.
The Senate and House have 30 calendar days or 10 voting session days, whichever is longer, from the date the resolution is reported out of Committee to pass the concurrent resolution and present it to the Governor for his action.
The Governor can then sign or veto the resolution. His veto is subject to being overridden by both the Senate and House by two-thirds vote.
Click Here to watch a video of the Committee meeting.
The text of the resolution follows--
A Concurrent Resolution
Disapproving the Environmental Protection Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites Regulations submitted by the Environmental Quality Board.
WHEREAS, On February 3, 2016, the Environmental Quality Board approved “Environmental Protection Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites” Regulations (DEP 7—484 and IRRC #3042), (Regulations);
WHEREAS, On April 12, 2016, the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee of the House of Representatives, in accordance with section 5.1(j.2) of the act of June 25, 1982 (P.L.633, No.181), known as the Regulatory Review Act, voted to disapprove the Regulations; and
WHEREAS, On April 12, 2016, the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee of the Senate, in accordance with section 5.1 (j.2) of the Regulatory Review Act, voted to disapprove the Regulations; and
WHEREAS, On April 21, 2016, notwithstanding the disapprovals of the Senate and House of Representatives oversight committees, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) voted to approve the Regulations; and
WHEREAS, The Regulations violate section 1741.l—E of the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code, which requires regulations for conventional and unconventional wells under all State laws to be promulgated separately; and
WHEREAS, The Regulations disregard that the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court enjoined 58 Pa.C.S. § 3215(b) and (d) and enjoined 58 Pa.C.S. § 3215(c) and (e) to the extent that they implement 58 Pa.C.S. § 3215 (b) and Cd); and
WHEREAS, The Regulations have yet to comply with the Regulatory Review Act in several respects, including the sunshine requirements under section 5(a) (5) and the small business requirements under section 5(a) (10.1), (11), (12) and (12.1); and
WHEREAS, On April 22, 2016, the IRRC notified the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee of the House of Representatives that the IRRC had adopted an order, by a vote of three to two, approving the Regulations; therefore be it
RESOLVED (the Senate concurring), That the General Assembly disapprove the Regulations; and be it further
RESOLVED, That, in accordance with section 7 (d) of the Regulatory Review Act, this resolution constitute a bar to promulgation of the Regulations.
On April 12 both the House and Senate Committees both disapproved the drilling regulations prior to the April 21 IRRC approval.
Rep. John Maher (R-Allegheny) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by sending email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to: email@example.com.
Take Action Now
Click Here to urge your legislators to oppose efforts to block DEP’s drilling regulations.
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