New Bill Would Force PA DEP to Work WITH the Marcellus Industry

Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Ellis (Republican from Butler County) introduced House Bill (HB) 1960 on Jan. 5. The bill, known as the “State Agency Regulatory Compliance Officer Act,” would create a new Regulatory Compliance Officer position in each state agency, including the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). The new Compliance Officer would have the authority “to block an agency from imposing fines and penalties for violations and to rewrite the policies under which fines and penalties are imposed.” The aim of the bill is to force all PA state agencies (including the DEP) to work *with* the people and companies they regulate. It would create a different mindset–instead of “gotcha” enforcement of regulations, it’s aimed at making it easy to comply with regulations. The bill states this in its opening lines: “(1) It is the purpose of this act for agencies to work collaboratively with, instead of acting punitively towards, regulated communities. (2) Agencies should strive to make the regulations which the agencies administer and enforce as clear and easily navigable as possible for regulated communities. (3) In administering a regulation, an agency’s primary goal should be to ensure compliance rather than to exact punishment.” Those who love Big Government don’t like this bill. Will this bill go anywhere? Who knows! What the bill indicates to us is that at least some legislators (Republicans) in Harrisburg are listening and “get it.” What do they get? That PA has developed a reputation for burdensome regulations and if the state wants the Marcellus miracle to continue, and grow, things need to change at the DEP. A $83.7 billion investment by China in neighboring WV’s shale/petrochemical industries should be a bright, red slap across every PA legislator’s face. Wake up! If you don’t fix the DEP, quickly, you’ll lose PA’s Marcellus momentum to someone else…

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