During the budget stalemate, amendments designed to neuter the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s regulation of the natural gas industry were slipped into the budget framework that Governor Wolf and the Senate Caucuses agreed to. Since these deregulations were slipped into the fiscal bill, Governor Wolf has the power to line item veto them out of the final budget, but after yesterday’s time with the media don’t expect the Governor to veto these amendments.
The amendments designed to gut the DEP’s power were discovered last Wednesday by the PA Environment Digest blog. According to the post, one section will “abrogate the conventional oil and gas regulations developed by DEP and declaring the rulemaking process used to propose the regulations invalid making DEP start the process over,” and Keystone Politics writer Jon Geeting mentioned that these rules were put in place by the previous administration.
The Raging Chicken Press reached out to Governor Wolf’s office to see if the Governor will line item veto the regulations. The Governor’s spokesperson Jeffrey Sheridan stated that “Governor Wolf opposes loaded up the fiscal bill code to gut oil and gas regulations or slow implementations of the Clean Power Plan.”
Even though the Governor’s office did not elude to a line item veto, Governor Wolf has the constitutional authority to do so because these amendments were slipped into the fiscal code, but at this point, that is unlikely. At yesterday’s Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, the battle weary Governor told the press that he is done negotiating a budget and that it is time for the House to put the budget on his desk. Governor Wolf campaigned on instituting a severance tax on the gas industry for funding public education, which did not make it into this year’s budget, and regulating the industry, which is about to suffer a large setback when the Governor signs the budget.
Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth, stated that learned about the GOP’s budget maneuvering upon returning from the Conference of Parties 21 climate convention in Paris. She stated that this would “significantly weaken the state’s already pretty pathetic environmental agenda,” and that it is up to the “few environmental champions in the House prevail at removing those measures.”