Senate Approves Bill Protecting Conventional Oil/Gas Production in PA

The Senate today (June 15) approved and sent to the Governor legislation that will promote the conventional oil and natural gas industry and remove it from onerous and inappropriate regulations drafted by the Department of Environment Protection (DEP) for Marcellus Shale operations, according to Senator Scott E. Hutchinson.

Senate Bill 279, which Senator Hutchinson introduced to establish the Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council, was amended in the House of Representatives on June 8 to include language removing conventional oil and gas drillers from the DEP’s proposed changes to state (Chapter 78) regulations on drilling operations in the Commonwealth.

“Unfortunately, some in the rule-making process were unable or unwilling to recognize the vast differences between the conventional and unconventional drilling industries,” said Senator Hutchinson. “Instead, they embarked on a course to write new regulations for the 150 year-old conventional industry that are simply not workable and would truly be a death knell for the industry. Fortunately, the General Assembly and the Governor were able to reach an agreement on the issue, which resulted in this amended bill. I appreciate the efforts that made this legislation a reality and thereby offer a much brighter future for the conventional oil and gas industry and the thousands of Pennsylvanians whose jobs and livelihoods are dependent on those operations.”

Senator Hutchinson said the General Assembly previously made it perfectly clear in Act 126 of 2014 that when the Department of Environmental Protection makes new rules for Marcellus Shale gas extraction operations, there must be separate regulations developed in a separate regulatory process for the conventional drilling industry.

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

“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 Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council created under this bill will work to promote the conventional gas and oil industry and serve as a technical advisory board to address issues affecting conventional production. The panel would work with the DEP to ensure that the differences between small and large operations are taken into account as future regulations or laws are developed and implemented.”

Contact:          Justin Leventry           (717) 787-9684

Listen to Senator Hutchinson’s comments on Senate Bill 279