The upcoming week will determine if Pennsylvania’s Oil and Gas industry are the true victors in the state’s prolonged budget fight. Governor Tom Wolf and Republican Leadership have not met since the Governor’s blistering budget address or since budget talks fell apart last December, and last week Republicans sent Governor Wolf the same budget for the third time. The political gamesmenship and gridlock that’s grinding Harrisburg to a standstill goes on, but maybe the third time will be the charm?
It’s going to be a huge charm for the natural gas industry.
Last December, Pennlive reported that amendments to deregulate the gas industry and thwart environmental programs were inserted to the Fiscal Code (House Bill 1327). It passed the Senate 48-2 and aimed to derail the Department of Environmental Protection’s three year process of modernizing oil and gas regulations, delay the state’s adaptation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power program and defund one of the state’s most arguably successful environmental program – the Growing Greener fund – to the behest of the oil and gas industry.
David Hess from PA Environment Digest pointed out where these items were located in the bill. The screen captures provided shows that little has changed in the bill’s language since Hess covered these items last December:
— Kill Conventional Oil & Gas Regulations: 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. [Section 1741.1-E, page 34] (December Budget | March Budget)— Reduces Growing Greener Funding $15 Million: Reduces the monies deposited in the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund by the Marcellus Legacy Fund from $35 million to $20 million for FY 2015-16. [Section 1608-E, page 8] (December Budget | March Budget)— Extends General Assembly’s Review Time For EPA Clean Power Implementation Plan: DEP is now required to submit its plan for implementing EPA’s Clean Power Climate requirements to the General Assembly for approval 180, not 100 days before it is submitted to EPA as required by Act 175 of 2014. If no vote is taken by the General Assembly before August 22, 2016, the plan is deemed approved. If one or both chambers disapprove the plan, DEP can evaluate the reasons for the disapproval of the plan, request an extension from EPA for submitting the plan. [Section 1723-E, page 27](December Budget | March Budget)