Opposition to Senate Bill 175

PEC sent the following letter on Senate Bill 175 to members of the Pennsylvania Senate today:

Dear Senators:

On behalf of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), I am writing to convey our opposition to Senate Bill 175. This legislation prevents the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) from enacting any state-specific measures to limit methane emissions from natural gas operations.

While the Department has announced its intention to address methane, it has yet to publish any formal proposals to do so. In effect, Senate Bill 175 binds the hands of the Department to perform its mission of protecting public health and the environment before any proposals are even on the table.

With the support of the very industry being regulated, other states with active oil and gas development have already adopted controls for methane emissions. These controls use demonstrated practices and technologies that are already being deployed by leading companies; there has been no demonstrated downturn resulting from emissions controls. In fact, these controls are cost-effective, save wasted product, enhance safety, and support other Pennsylvania businesses. There are very clear benefits.

We believe Senate Bill 175 takes the wrong approach – it establishes a blanket prohibition without any consideration of cost or benefit, and without consideration of feasibility. It ensures that Pennsylvania, already the second largest producer of natural gas in the nation, will be less protective of the public and environment than other states.

PEC is a proud member of the Center for Responsible Shale Development. We support natural gas development in the Commonwealth, but it must be done pursuant to strong standards. Senate Bill 175 walks Pennsylvania backwards and runs counter to what leaders in the industry, and what other states, are already doing.

We opposed this legislation in the prior session, and conveyed our concerns directly in a meeting with the Sponsor’s office.

We respectfully ask you to oppose this legislation. Thank you for your consideration.

John Walliser, Senior Vice President