Governor Signs Bills to Protect Energy-Related Jobs

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Two bills addressing state and federal energy regulations — including legislation introduced by Senator Don White to protect family-sustaining Pennsylvania jobs placed at risk by the federal Clean Power Plan — were signed into law today (June 23) by the Governor.

Senate Bill 1195, Senator White’s bill addressing Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal Clean Power Plan was signed into law as Act 57 of 2016 and Senate Bill 279, which removes conventional oil and gas drillers from the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) proposed changes to state (Chapter 78) regulations on drilling operations in the Commonwealth was signed into law as Act 52 of 2016.

Specifically, Senator White’s bill provides procedures for the General Assembly’s consideration of the implementation strategy developed by the Department of Environmental Protection for the federal Clean Power Plan before its submission to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“My Senate district is known as ‘Power Alley’ as it is home to three very large coal-fired powers plants, a coal refuse plant and a natural gas plant.  The economic vitality of the region depends on these power-generating facilities and the fuel they consume. The global downturn in the energy economy is well known and my District has taken more than its fair share of body blows during this difficult time,” said Senator White.

“This has been a long and tough road, but I am pleased that the Governor and the Legislature were able to find common ground on this measure,” Senator White continued. “This new law will safeguard Pennsylvania’s energy-producing industries and the thousands of workers they employ and protect them from overreaching regulations that could come with Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal Clean Power Plan.”

Senator White’s bill received strong bipartisan support in the General Assembly, passing the Senate with a 38-11 vote and the House of Representatives by a vote of 147-41.

Senate Bill 1195 also enjoyed broad-based support in the Commonwealth, including that of energy producers and several organized labor groups including the AFL-CIO, the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 (IUOE), the Boilermakers Local 13, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the United Mine Workers of America. (UMWA).

Senator White said he was pleased that his bill and Senate Bill 279, introduced by Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21), were signed by the Governor on the same day.

“It is definitely appropriate that these bills were enacted together,” Senator White said. “They both address concerns that good jobs and vital industries could be lost due to overzealous regulations. Senate Bill 279 requires the DEP to recognize that conventional oil and gas well operations have been a key part of our communities for 150 years and that they should not be treated in the same manner as the Marcellus Shale industries.”

The General Assembly made it perfectly clear in Act 126 of 2014 that any new rules for Marcellus Shale gas extraction operations imposed by the DEP must be developed separate from the conventional drilling industry.

Senate Bill 279 reinforces that provision by stating that DEP must declare its newly enacted regulations for conventional operations void.  DEP may now decide to embark upon another regulatory process, one solely intended for conventional drilling operations.

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Contact:          Joe Pittman     jpittman@pasen.gov