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Senate Environmental Committee Reports Bill To Legalize Road Dumping Of Conventional Drilling Wastewater With Little Discussion, Only 3 Negative Votes

On September 24, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee reported out Senate Bill 790 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson) which sets environmental protection standards for conventional (not Shale gas) oil and gas well drilling and legalizes the road dumping of drilling wastewater from conventional wells.

There was no discussion of road dumping or any specific issues at the short meeting.

There were only 3 negative votes-- Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair of the Committee, Sen. Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) and Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery).

The Committee unanimously voted to report out House Bill 374 (Everett-R- Lycoming) to create the Keystone Tree Fund to create a vehicle and driver license checkoff to provide funding for DCNR’s tree planting programs was reported out unanimously.

Senate Bill 790

Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) noted DEP as well as the PA Environmental Council  and Environmental Defense Fund expressed concerns about the bill and urged a no vote.  He said while there has been progress made on the issues involved, they were not finished yet.

The PA Environmental Council and the Environmental Defense Fund outlined their opposition to key provisions in the bill in a September 19 letter to Committee staff.  The concerns included--

-- Excluding any well that uses fracking as a conventional well from the bill;

-- Oppose blanket bonds to insure wells are properly plugged covering an unlimited number of conventional wells and recommended an increase in bonding amounts;

-- Requirements for plugging a well need to be clear and should not allow a continuous flow of water out of a well;

-- Requirements for mechanical integrity and surface casing should apply to all wells;

-- The provisions related to bonding and plugging wells involved in permit transfers to a new owner are inadequate;

-- There should be specific provisions for operation and remediation of orphan wells;

-- Well location restrictions and setbacks from areas that flood in particular need to be updated and revised, including the protection of public resources;

-- The bill must ensure when water supplies affected by conventional drilling are replaced they must, at a minimum, meet safe drinking water standards; and

-- Spill reporting provisions are inadequate.

Click Here for a copy of the letter.

Senate Bill 790 was introduced as a follow up to action by the General Assembly to kill DEP’s final updated conventional drilling regulations in 2016 because the industry thought they were too strict.

The law then created the PA Grade Crude Development Advisory Council, made up of all industry-related individuals, that was supposed to “advise” DEP on development a new update to the conventional drilling regulations, but so far no draft regulations have been discussed by the Council since it was created in 2016.

The bill is a companion to House Bill 1635 (Causer-R-Cameron) also introduced in June.  The language in House Bill 1635 passed the House last session as House Bill 2154, moved to the Senate and reported out of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and was awaiting action on the Senate Calendar when the session ended.

Senate Bill 790 has different provisions than House Bill 1635 which turns back the clock of environmental regulation of conventional wells all the way back to 1984.  Click Here for more background.

House Bill 374 and Senate Bill 790 now move to the full Senate for action.

Click Here to watch a video of the meeting.

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-3280 or sending email to:   Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7105 or sending email to:


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Huba: Report: PA Natural Gas Royalty Payments On The Rise

Click Here For Links To Last Week’s Environment & Energy NewsClips

Related Articles:

Op-Ed: Why Is the General Assembly About To Hurt Us By Authorizing Road Dumping Of Oil & Gas Wastewater?

Penn State Study Recommends Only Using Nontoxic Products Or Highly Treated Drilling Wastewater To Remove Radium, Oil, Metals Before Road Spreading

Earthworks’ New Report, Interactive Map Tracks Disposal Of 380 Million Barrels Of PA Oil & Gas Drilling Wastewater, Including Road Dumping

New Study Tracks Liquid, Solid Waste From Conventional, Unconventional Oil & Gas Development In PA From Generation To Disposal

Conventional Oil & Gas Industry Has A Major Goal In 2019-- To Restore Program To Spread Waste Water From Wells On Roads

Op-Ed: The Story Behind Stopping Conventional Oil & Gas Brine Spreading On Dirt Roads

Op-Ed: Will Our Dirt Roads Again Be Used As Dumping Sites For Oil & Gas Well Wastewater

Penn State: Potential Health Impacts Of Oil and Gas Wastewater On Roads

Oil & Gas Well Brines For Dust Control On Unpaved Roads - Part I- Ineffectiveness

Penn State Study: Using Oil & Gas Well Brine As Dust Suppressant Less Than Ideal

Briefing: Good, Bad & Ugly Environment & Energy Bills In The PA House, Senate

Related Articles This Week:

House Passes Bill To Require Repeal Of 2 Regulations For Every New Regulation Adopted, Create Duplicate $695,000 Office Of The Repealer

Senate Committee OKs Bill To Limit Public’s Right To Know Why A Regulation Is Being Proposed

Temporary Stay Of Execution For Permitting Programs That Protect Pennsylvania’s Environment

PA Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Fund Urge House Members To Vote NO On Bills Undermining The Integrity Of Environmental Permitting

DEP Invites Comments On Chapter 105 Stormwater General Permit For Projects Under 5 Acres (PAG-01)

Senate Environmental Committee Reports Bill To Legalize Road Dumping Of Conventional Drilling Wastewater With Little Discussion, Only 3 Negative Votes

[Posted: September 24, 2019]


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