PennFuture Statement: Latest Package of House Bills Marks Move Towards Unprecedented Rollback on Environmental Protection

HARRISBURG, Pa. (May 2, 2018) – PennFuture opposes several bills that passed the PA State House of Representatives on Tuesday, marking an alarming move towards excluding the PA Department of Environmental Protection from reviewing oil and gas permits, and one that would allow elected officials to repeal any state regulation by resolution, among several other concerns.
The “Regulatory Reform” package (House Bills 209, 1237, 1792, 1959, and 1960) would collectively undermine environmental protections enforced by the state. Modeled after Trump Administration policies, these bills place a cap on all regulations and require agencies to remove two regulations for each new one it adopts. The package also would allow agencies to waive penalties for polluters, essentially giving companies permission to put profits over people and the environment.   
“This package gives elected officials the power to decide the fate of state regulations by resolution and would exclude scientific experts at the PA Department of Environmental Protection from reviewing permits, placing the process in the hands of the oil and gas industry itself through a third party process,” said PennFuture President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo. “This is a dangerous move and one in which the state legislature is again turning a blind eye to polluting companies acting in bad faith, rather than protecting the clean air and pure water that citizens need in order to live healthy lives with their families.”  
House Bill 2154 initially had been scheduled for final passage in the state house this week, but was postponed until at least May 22 due to widespread opposition from several environmental advocacy groups. This bill would significantly change the environmental requirements for conventional oil and gas drilling operators, putting clean air and pure water in jeopardy. It would reenact the Oil and Gas Act of 1984 for conventional oil and gas drilling operators, turning back the clock on standards by 34 years. 
This bill also promotes the use of ‘frack fluids’ and wastewater without referencing scientific evidence deeming it safe. This broadly threatens surface water in rural areas, where many of the highest quality streams and headwaters are located.  
“Our state leaders are tasked with listening to their constituents and protecting their most basic needs: clean air, pure water, and a healthy climate, but this week we see that polluters and profits are again being prioritized over the people,” Bonomo said. “In the three decades since these laws were reformed to provide better protections, the science around health impacts of pollution has improved dramatically and the signals are not good. Turning back the clock on environmental regulations is wrong and bad for people and the environment. Pennsylvanians deserve better. If HB 2154 comes back for a vote in the house later this month, it must be rejected.”
PennFuture is leading the transition to a clean energy economy in Pennsylvania, fighting big polluters with legal muscle, enforcing environmental laws, and supporting legislative policy that protects public health. PennFuture is engaging and educating citizens about the realities of climate change, and giving them the tools needed to influence lawmakers on the issues. Visit www.pennfuture.org for more information.
Stephanie Rex
Director of Communications