PennFuture Statement: SB 1088 Would Roll Back Drilling Rules to 1984 Levels

HARRISBURG, Pa. (April 17, 2018) – PennFuture unequivocally opposes Senate Bill 1088, which is scheduled for a vote this week and would roll back fundamental rules for conventional oil and gas drilling to 1984 levels – essentially ignoring 35 years of technological change in the drilling industry and turning a blind eye to modern science. 
“This bill ignores common sense progress that has been made over the course of more than three decades, and also ignores the importance of public input, allowing conventional operators to avoid their responsibilities as stewards of our state natural resources,” said PennFuture President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo. “This bill is harmful to landowners and municipalities, as it gives the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and landowners only 15 days to raise objections to proposed conventional well locations, essentially silencing citizens in the process of expanding industry.” 
Although this right has been upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the Robinson Township decision based on the Environmental Rights Amendment, Senate Bill 1088 also blocks local governments from making their own zoning decisions. 
“We will not accept this draconian weakening of our environmental protections,” Bonomo said.
Among the many troubling provisions of this bill, Senate Bill 1088 also:
  • Eliminates additional review when conventional oil and gas wells could potentially impact state parks and forest lands, which puts into jeopardy endangered plants, animals, and sites of cultural and historical significance. 
  • Seeks to leave Pennsylvanians with the tab for the plugging of abandoned conventional oil and gas wells, of which there are nearly 400,000 in the Commonwealth. This is unfair to citizens and the conventional drillers should be held to the same high level of accountability as the unconventional oil and gas industry.
  • Eliminates the ability to hold conventional oil and gas operators accountable for their violations by forcing the Department to issue “warnings” rather than “notices of violation” that it can no longer factor into calculating penalties. 
  • Exempts conventional oil and gas drillers from meeting Safe Drinking Water Act standards, meaning the industry can more easily contaminate water supplies. 
  • Removes a requirement that conventional drillers that impact drinking water to restore it to a level of supply and purity set out in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
“It’s troubling that in the 21st century we still have an industry and lawmakers willing to wash their hands of any environmental responsibilities,” Bonomo said. “Pennsylvania history is stained by impacts from this type of short-sighted political giveaway – polluted waterways, scarred landscapes, and taxpayers footing the bill for industrial misdeeds. It’s stunning that this bill is even being considered.”
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