Bill to differentiate conventional production goes to Pennsylvania governor

Pennsylvania’s Senate passed a final bill on June 15 to exempt conventional oil and gas production from proposed Department of Environmental Protection regulations for unconventional production. It forwarded S.B. 279 to Gov. Tom Wolf (D) for final approval.

The bill, which Sen. Scott E. Hutchinson (R-Oil City, Butler, and Warren) and nine cosponsors introduced on Jan. 16, 2015, would establish the Pennsylvania Grade Crude Development Council to help develop new environmental regulations for oil and gas activity in the Keystone State.

The House voted to amend it on June 8 to formally remove conventional upstream operations from DEP’s proposed changes on drilling operations in the Commonwealth, which are tailored to unconventional exploration and production.

“Unfortunately, some in the rulemaking process were unable or unwilling to recognize the vast differences between the conventional and unconventional drilling industries,” Hutchinson said. “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.”

Hutchinson said the General Assembly previously made it clear in a 2014 bill that when DEP makes new rules for Marcellus shale gas extraction operations, there must be separate regulations developed in a separate rulemaking process for conventional oil and gas industry.

Hutchinson said S.B. 279 reinforces that provision by stating that DEP must declare the newly enacted regulations for conventional operations void, and giving the agency authority to embark upon another regulatory process intended for conventional drilling operations.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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