There will be no new regulations on PA’s shallow oil and gas drilling industry for at least a few years after Gov. Tom Wolf signed SB 279 into law on Tuesday.
The Wolf administration will now be able to move forward with its new regulations on the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry under the law.
The bill represented a compromise between the second-year Democratic Governor and the Republican-led General Assembly. Legislators had threatened to get rid of the administration’s entire regulation package, which was approved by an independent regulatory board in April, Marc Levy of the Associated Press reports.
The regulations over the shallow oil and gas drilling industry and the natural gas industry were written by Wolf’s Department of Environmental Protection, and lawmakers cited the fight over the regulations as the reason behind the ousting of former DEP Secretary John Quigley.
The conventional drilling regulations scuppered by Wolf on Thursday have been working their way through the procedural process for the last four years, after lawmakers passed a law requiring the state to modernize its oil and gas drilling rules in 2012.
Under Act 52, Marcellus Shale natural gas drillers must identify public resources, including schools and playground, as well as old or abandoned water wells located near drilling sites.
Natural gas drillers will be held responsible if water supplies are contaminated and made to restore the water back to pre-drilling levels or to the federal standards set by the Safe Drinking Water Act, whichever is better.
Drillers can no longer store waste in pits or use brine to de-ice or for dust control, under the law.
“I am pleased to have reached bipartisan agreement with the legislature to proceed with the Chapter 78a unconventional oil and gas regulations, which will better protect the health of our environment and our residents,” Gov. Wolf said in a statement. “As part of the compromise I reached with the legislature, my administration will get to work immediately to redraft conventional regulations, and I have directed the Department of Environmental Protection to begin the process.”
Gov. Wolf also signed SB 1195 into law on Thursday, giving the General Assembly 180 days, instead of 100, to review and approve the state’s compliance plan for the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.