Senate Approves Bill Promoting Conventional Oil Production in PA

The Senate today (February 18) approved legislation introduced by Senator Scott Hutchinson that will protect and promote conventional oil and natural gas production in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 279, legislation to protect the conventional oil and gas production industry from state regulations intended for companies extracting Marcellus Shale gas, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

SB 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.

“Oil and gas production is a part of the Commonwealth’s heritage and remains a key component of the economy of northwestern Pennsylvania,” said Senator Hutchinson. “The council created under this bill would work to promote the conventional gas and oil industry and protect it from regulations intended solely for the Marcellus Shale gas extraction industry. The panel would work with the DEP to ensure that the differences between the operations are taken into account as these regulations and laws are developed and implemented.”

Senator Hutchinson originally introduced the measure as Senate Bill 1310 last year. That bill was approved by the Senate on October 8, but didn’t clear the House of Representatives prior to the end of the 2013-14 Legislative Session on November 30.

On Tuesday (February 17) the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the formation of a Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee (COGAC) to increase transparency and communication about regulating the conventional oil and gas drilling industry. Coincidentally, the DEP’s announcement came on the same day that the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved SB 279.

“I am 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. “One significant difference is the Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council 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.”

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 Nominations will be accepted through March 3.

Contact:          Justin Leventry           (717) 787-9684