Two critical bills that would alter PA’s environmental regulations and make those regulations less stringent are on their way to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk just as a rift is continuing to grow between the Governor and pro-environment politicians.
The first bill, S.B. 279, would undo conventional oil and gas drilling regulations outlined in Chapter 78 regulations which were designed to make conventional and unconventional drilling safer in PA.
Both bills were approved by the House and the Senate on Wednesday but State Rep. Greg Vitali is urging Wolf to veto both bills.
“Cancelling any portion of these regulations would be very bad for Pennsylvania,” Vitali said. “These bills are incredibly damaging to Pennsylvania’s environment and to public health…The governor is a chief steward of the environment, so I urge him to veto these bills.”
Environmentalists are nervous about what actions Wolf will take act on the bills because of several recent events in which Wolf appeared to be distancing his political agenda from the agenda of environmentalists.
Former Department of Environmental Protection John Quigley is reported to have complained about Wolf’s action (or inaction) on environmental issues in private emails to environmental groups, and resigned from his position shortly thereafter under heavy pressure from the Governor.
Additionally, according to Marie Cusick of StateImpactPA, Wolf is reportedly finding more common ground with the Republican-led legislature on environmental and climate change policies, particularly with respect to the oil and gas industry.
“The environment has historically been the low man on the totem pole in budget negotiations,” stated Vitali. ““I don’t know why he’s caving on the environment, but he clearly is caving.”