By Andrew Williams
Some Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to take some of the state’s environmental protections backward.
Pennsylvania House Bill 2154 would weaken crucial environmental protections for 90% of the state’s oil and gas wells.
As Governor Wolf works to bring Pennsylvania into the 21st Century by proposing rules that spur innovation and cut oil and gas pollution, industry trade associations are working around the clock to go back in time to lax environmental laws that were in place decades ago. Regrettably, H.B. 2154 would result in a law even weaker than the Oil and Gas Act of 1984 in several important respects.
- It removes the requirement that operators disclose chemicals used in the fracking process.
- It exempts some wastewater treatment facilities from following sensible clean water standards.
- It negates the requirement of drillers to restore contaminated water supplies to Safe Drinking Water Act standards.
- It weakens well integrity standards that protect groundwater and worker safety.
- It strikes provisions requiring review of well site impacts to public resources including state forests and parks.
Reasoned proposals that meet the needs of small oil and gas businesses make sense, but H.B. 2154 does not pass that test. H.B. 2154 would give Pennsylvania some of the worst oil and gas laws in the country.
Across the U.S., citizens are growing increasingly concerned with the actions of industry operators. Just this week, shareholders at drilling company Range Resources' annual meeting won a vote compelling the company to prepare a report on its efforts to rein in methane emissions. Shareholders signaled a sea change in public participation in the interest of industry accountability.
We need rules that respond to the harmful impacts oil and gas operations can have on our air and water. We need industry to work together with policymakers and environmental organizations to craft reasonable and responsible policies that balance the needs of communities, businesses, and the environment.
More than ever, we need Pennsylvania legislators to put the health and well-being of Pennsylvania families ahead of the oil and gas lobby. Leaders must be willing to put public health before politics and oppose reckless legislation that endangers their constituents. The safety and integrity of residents and communities is not a partisan issue, it is a Pennsylvania issue.
Pennsylvania State Representatives Gene DiGirolamo, Chris Quinn, and Marguerite Quinn all recently voted against a package of bills that would rollback air and water protections from oil and gas-related pollution. We need more legislators to follow suit, make the responsible decision, and vote NO on any legislation, including H.B. 2154 that seeks to protect polluters over Pennsylvania families.