PA Gov Wolf “Eager” to Sign Drilling Law Forced Down His Throat
June 16, 2016
7/29/16 Update: Please see the note on this article for clarification on when/if new shale drilling regulations (known as Article 78a) will take effect.
We can’t stop laughing. PA’s very liberal Governor, Tom Wolf, has been obstinate in demanding onerous new drilling rules for the conventional, as well as unconventional (shale) drilling industry since he took office. Reworked drilling rules were done and ready to go under previous Governor, Tom Corbett. Then Corbett lost to Wolf, and Wolf demanded to change common sense rules everyone had already agreed to (see New Draft Drilling Regulations in PA: Wastewater Impoundments Out). It became obvious that Democrats were trying to run PA’s traditional, small conventional drillers out of business by applying the same regulations to them that will apply to shale drillers. The Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (PIOGA) represents many of those small conventional drillers and vigorously fought back (see PIOGA Turns Up the Heat on Wolf/Quigley Over TAB/Article 78 and PA Board Adopts New Drilling Regs, PIOGA Blasts DEP “Deceptive”). In the end, Wolf’s own Democrat Party legislators in the House and Senate abandoned him and the writing was on the wall: The entire package of drilling rules, for both conventional (Article 78) and shale (Article 78a) was headed for defeat. The legislature was about to repeal both sets of newly-minted DEP rules–so Wolf pivoted and decided to accept half a loaf–passage of the shale rules, Article 78a (see Wolf Really Didn’t Wise Up, He Just Took Half a Loaf re Drilling Regs). Yesterday the the PA House voted 141-46 to require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to start from scratch with proposed rules for the state’s conventional drilling industry. The Senate later agreed, voting 37-12 in favor of Senate Bill (SB) 279. The bill will now be signed by Wolf. Why are we laughing? Because Wolf’s office issued a press release yesterday essentially taking credit for getting SB 279 passed–like it was somehow his idea all along, when in fact he was forced into it…