PEC Letter on Administrative Code Legislation

PEC sent the following communication in to the General Assembly:

July 11, 2017

To: Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly
Re: Environmental Riders to Administrative Code Legislation (Senate Bill 446)

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) urges you to oppose three provisions that have been included in Administrative Code legislation – Senate Bill 446 (P.N. 1088). Two of these provisions make substantive changes to environmental law without any prior notice or deliberation. The third, while making positive environmental change and already introduced in stand-alone legislation, is also not appropriate as an amendment to this bill.

The two provisions that have not been publicly introduced or debated are: 

  • Section 6, which weakens protection standards under the Clean Streams Law by limiting water quality criteria for manganese to a finite distance from identified water supplies.
  • Section 8, which extends National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) permits for waste treatment facilities providing water disposal services to the conventional oil and gas industry.

These new provisions do not reflect language in any legislation that has been introduced this session. They have not been discussed or voted on by relevant legislative committees of either Chamber, nor has any record been made as to why these provisions are necessary or in the public interest. Their inclusion in the Administrative Code and greater context of budget negotiations fundamentally constrains public review and comment.

A third provision, Section 13, was added to SB446 to advance in-state solar generation. As noted above, this concept has been included in stand-alone legislation in consecutive sessions of the General Assembly (introduced as Senate Bill 404 in the current session). However, while we support the language of Section 13 and Senate Bill 404, we nonetheless believe that it too should be considered independent of the state budget. We cannot, in good conscience, oppose certain amendments to this bill with which we do not agree, while supporting other changes that also run counter to transparent policy and decision making.

Legislative language that presents novel changes to environmental law should be deliberated openly, on its own merits and with opportunity for public involvement. For this reason, we respectfully urge you to oppose inclusion of Sections 6, 8, and 13 in Senate Bill 446, while  restating our support for passage of Senate Bill 404.

Thank you for your consideration.