HARRISBURG – Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) today applauded House passage of legislation to ensure reasonable, responsible oversight of the conventional oil and gas industry that would both protect the environment and ensure the 160-year-old industry can remain a vital source of jobs and energy in the Commonwealth.
“The conventional oil and gas industry has long been a cornerstone of the economy in my district and areas across the Northern Tier, providing thousands of good, family-sustaining jobs,” Causer said. “This bill will help preserve those jobs by removing the threat of unreasonable and unnecessary regulations from the backs of our conventional producers in favor of rules that are relevant and appropriate to these shallow-well operations.
“Just as importantly, it would help ensure this industry can continue to serve as a valuable energy source for homes and businesses across the Commonwealth,” he added.
Senate Bill 790
would enact the Conventional Oil and Gas Wells Act to govern the conventional, shallow-well oil and gas industry, which is vastly different from unconventional, deep-well drilling in the Marcellus shale. Characteristics specific to conventional operations include oil and gas well locations which are many times smaller than unconventional locations, operations in shallow low-pressure formations, low-pressure wells, and natural gas systems which feed local consumers (homes, schools, hospitals) rather than intrastate or even interstate systems.
“Nearly all of Pennsylvania’s conventional oil and gas wells are owned and operated by sole proprietors or small businesses,” Causer said. “They live, work and raise their children in the same communities where they are drilling for oil and gas. They are capable of and committed to producing this valuable energy source while also ensuring clean air and water for themselves and future generations.”
Causer noted the bill, which would serve as the framework for future changes to rules impacting the conventional industry, is the latest step in a years-long fight to stop the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from applying regulations intended to address the far more impactful unconventional industry to the smaller, conventional operations.
“The industry is struggling immensely, and a significant cause of that struggle is the lack of understanding and purposeful misrepresentation of how our conventional oil and gas operations work in a safe and environmentally conscious manner,” Causer said.
The legislation was developed in large part by members of the Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council, which was created by Act 52 of 2016 to advise and assist DEP with regulatory changes impacting the conventional industry.
The council is also directed to develop a plan to increase production of Pennsylvania grade crude oil to more adequately supply refineries, such as American Refining Group, and look at ways to promote the long-term viability of the conventional oil and gas industry. Causer is one of 17 members of the council, which also includes representatives from DEP.
The bill passed by a vote of 109-93 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Martin T. Causer
Pennsylvania House of Representatives