The Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Environmental Defense Fund sent the following communication to the state Senate in opposition to Senate Bill 398:
We are writing you today to respectfully request that you vote NO on SB Bill 398 which is expected to come up on the floor today or this week. We believe this bill impedes the rulemaking processes and could have the potential to significantly hinder the state’s ability to put forward important regulations in a timely manner, including those that work to protect the safety and health of our communities and environment.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) believe this process already provides the legislature with full review opportunity, and we are concerned that SB 398 could have an adverse effect on the carefully constructed system of checks and balances between legislative and executive authority in Pennsylvania. SB 398 would only complicate this process by adding open-ended oversight by standing committees that creates the potential for indefinite delay of any future regulation.
As it relates to environmental regulations, Pennsylvania already has one of the most thorough and robust processes of any state in the nation for developing, reviewing and finalizing regulatory proposals. Proposed environmental regulations, in particular, go through multiple steps of review by agency officials, public hearings by the Environmental Quality Board and other technical advisory committees, as well as a formal public comment and agency response process. Proposed agency regulations must then undergo review by the appropriate standing committees in the legislature, at which time Members can comment on the proposed regulations. Both proposed regulations and final form regulations also undergo review by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, which provides an additional nonpartisan review of the regulations and comments made by the legislature and public. On top of all this, the General Assembly already has the ability to abrogate a proposed rulemaking, which they have done in the past.
More explicitly, SB398 prohibits an agency proposing a rulemaking to provide its justification and analysis for the proposal to the public through publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, as has been standing practice for some time. There is no justification for this prohibition – the public has full right to understand the purpose of, and consideration behind, a proposed rulemaking.
The public expects and deserves responsive government. At a time when Pennsylvania faces so many challenges, we would urge you to oppose legislation that may hinder the Commonwealth’s ability to respond to issues that may arise and prevent it from moving forward with measures to protect its citizens, strengthen its economy and meet the needs of current and future generations – please vote NO on SB 398.
Director, Regulatory & Legislative Affairs
US Climate and Energy
Environmental Defense Fund
Senior Vice President, Legal & Government Affairs
Pennsylvania Environmental Council