Hutchinson Lauds DEP Formation of Oil/Gas Advisory Committee

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Senator Scott Hutchinson hailed today’s announcement by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) of its formation of a Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee (COGAC) to increase transparency and communication about regulating the conventional oil and gas drilling industry.

Senator Hutchinson is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 279, legislation intended to protect and promote conventional oil production in Pennsylvania. Senator Hutchinson originally introduced the measure as Senate Bill 1310 last year.

Coincidentally, the DEP’s announcement came on the same day that the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved SB 279. This legislation, which would promote and protect conventional oil and gas production from state regulations intended for companies extracting Marcellus Shale, is now poised for a final vote by the full Senate.

“I am extremely pleased to see the DEP is now moving in a similar direction as I propose in Senate Bill 279, but I still believe it is important that we codify this initiative in law,” Senator Hutchinson said. “In addition, my bill is intended to promote the conventional oil and gas industry in the Commonwealth. My Senate district includes the birthplace of oil and gas production in Pennsylvania over a century and a half ago. These resources fueled the industrial revolution and transformed our nation’s economy. This industry is an important part of the regional economy. It should be supported by the state, not stymied by excessive and unnecessary regulatory burdens.”

Senate Bill 279 would establish the Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council, a panel empowered to study existing regulations and assist the Department of Environmental Protection in making changes that better address the differences between conventional and unconventional oil and gas production.

COGAC will advise the DEP on matters related to conventional oil and gas extraction practices and regulations and will be structured similarly to DEP’s existing Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board.

The DEP is accepting nominations for COGAC. Persons interested in nominating a committee member should send their full name, title, affiliation, address, e-mail, and telephone number and their nominee’s resume to Todd Wallace of the Office of Oil at Gas Management at: Rachel Carson State Office Building, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063 or twallace@pa.gov. Nominations will be accepted through March 3.

Contact:          Justin Leventry           (717) 787-9684