PA Gov Wolf Floats Plan to Fix DEP Slow Drilling Permits: Hike Fees

As part of the Pennsylvania Senate’s misguided and mangled budget bill last year, Republicans managed to slip in fixes to the state Dept. of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) chronic delays in issuing permits related to shale drilling (see PA Senate’s “Olive Branch” of “Relaxed Regulations” for Drillers). Unfortunately the fixes came out before the final budget passed. Problems remain for Marcellus drillers. Delays are long in the Keystone State when it comes to permits for shale wells. The problems NEED to get fixed, now. House Republicans recently introduced a series of five different bills to help address DEP’s chronic delays (see PA House Advances “Fix DEP & Other Agencies” Plan with 5 Bills). No doubt feeling the pressure from the legislature, PA Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday introduced his own plan. Whereas the plan floated by legislators would allow third parties to assist with the backlog, Wolf’s plan is different. In a nutshell, Wolf wants to allocate more money to the DEP so they can hire more help–not third parties. Yeah, that’s the answer! More government. (Yes, we’re being sarcastic.) And what magic pocket will Wolf pull the money from to pay for an increase in head count at DEP, especially since Wolf can’t balance a budget to save his life? Why, from the pockets of the shale industry, of course. Wolf proposes boosting the $5,000 fee drillers now pay when filing to drill a new shale well to $12,500–a 250% (2.5x) increase. You want that permit on time for a change? It’ll cost you, buddy…

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