Today PEC sent the following communication to Governor Wolf thanking him for vetoing Senate Bill 655, which passed the General Assembly on June 30th. PEC objects to the inclusion of a rider in the legislation that would have inhibited rulemaking for oil and gas operations.
July 2, 2015
The Honorable Tom Wolf
Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Dear Governor Wolf:
On behalf of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), I want to thank you for vetoing Senate Bill 655. Our objections to this fiscal code legislation were not based on budgetary matters; rather, our concerns centered on a non-budgetary rider attached shortly before passage.
Each of the past three years, the General Assembly has included language in budgetary legislation that has constrained environmental protection efforts. We feel this practice is against the public interest, represents an abuse of legislative authority, and is, perhaps, even unconstitutional.
Senate Bill 655, through amendments made mere hours before it was passed by the General Assembly, included language that would have forced the Department of Environmental Protection to restart a rulemaking proposal addressing conventional oil and gas operations. Those proposed regulations are being promulgated pursuant to Act 13 of 2012, and have provided unprecedented opportunity for public engagement. In fact, pursuant to language inappropriately included in fiscal code legislation last year, the rulemaking was already bifurcated to separate conventional and unconventional drilling requirements.
In our view, the rider language in Senate Bill 655 served no outcome other than a purposeful effort to delay long-needed updates to environmental protection standards, and to waste the immense time and effort already invested in those standards.
Pennsylvanians deserve leading environmental protection standards. They also deserve transparent lawmaking that includes fair opportunity for public involvement. We hope you will take a stand against unwarranted inclusion of extraneous provisions in key budgetary legislation. It has become a routine practice by the General Assembly and needs to be stopped, regardless of party affiliations.
President and CEO