Today the Senate quickly amended and passed legislation — Senate Bill 1229, a catch-all Administrative Code bill that accompanies the state budget – to include provisions that weaken proposed final regulations for unconventional oil and gas operations. Specifically, the amendments diminish waste disposal reporting, drilling site restoration, and on-site water storage requirements. Senate Bill 1229 had not been voted on before by either the House or Senate, or considered by any Committee of either chamber with jurisdiction over environmental issues. There was no public discussion of the amendment language.
Only last month the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 279, which abrogated proposed regulations for the conventional industry. That bill provided the General Assembly with full opportunity to address proposed regulations for the unconventional industry, which they deliberately chose not to do. No justification has been provided for why it is now being done via the state budget.
PEC has, and continues to be, strongly opposed to using the state budget process to pass substantive environmental revisions. Senate Bill 1229 is merely the latest in a long series of attempts over the years, many successful, some not, to piggyback language that directly affects environmental protection.
We oppose the substance of the amendments to Senate Bill 1229, and the process used to shuttle them through without due public notice or dialogue. We urge the House and Governor to reject this unwarranted attempt to rewrite environmental law through the state budget.