Committee OKs Causer Bill to Ensure Reasonable, Responsible Regulation of Conventional Oil and Gas Industry
HARRISBURG – Citing its 160-year history of supplying valuable energy resources and practicing good environmental stewardship, Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) today praised committee approval of his bill to ensure fair and reasonable oversight of the conventional oil and gas industry. 

“This bill strikes an appropriate balance by removing the weight of unreasonable and unnecessary regulations from the backs of our conventional producers while still ensuring the environment is protected,” Causer said. “Without this bill, the industry and all it contributes to our local and state economy, not to mention the thousands of jobs it supports across the northern tier, will remain at risk.”

The bill comes as a follow-up to the years-long fight to stop the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from applying regulations intended to address unconventional, deep-well drilling in the Marcellus Shale to the very different process of conventional, shallow well drilling. Those changes have threatened to drive many conventional operations out of business. 

 “Many of the regulations developed in response to Act 13 of 2012 were not reasonable or relevant for the conventional oil and gas industry. The conventional operators aren’t asking for zero regulation – they just want fair regulation, and that’s what this bill aims to do,” Causer said. “The people who operate our conventional oil and gas wells live in the communities where the wells are located. They and their families breathe the same air and drink the same water as everyone else. They pride themselves on environmental stewardship while still running their businesses and providing quality jobs to their employees.”

House Bill 2154 would enact an updated Oil and Gas Act similar to one that governed the conventional oil and gas industry prior to the passage of Act 13 of 2012 and remains in effect today. The bill includes several regulatory updates and would serve as the framework for future changes to rules impacting the conventional industry. It would not change any of the regulations currently in place for unconventional drilling.

Other key elements of the bill would boost the plugging of orphan wells and grant DEP the authority to issue permits to allow municipalities to use brine for dust control, road stabilization, anti-icing and de-icing.

Causer expressed disappointment in the DEP’s opposition to the bill, and particularly the claims by DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell that the agency had “very little input” in developing the legislation. In fact, the legislation was drafted in large part by members of the Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council (CDAC), which was created by Act 52 of 2016 to advise and assist DEP with regulatory changes impacting the conventional industry. Several DEP representatives serve on the board.

“As a member of CDAC, DEP had ample opportunity to weigh in on the legislation as it was being developed, and in fact, a number of suggestions made by DEP members were incorporated into the bill we voted on today,” Causer said. “It’s outrageous for the secretary to claim DEP had limited input.”

He also noted no one at the agency has spoken with him directly about any specific concerns or suggested solutions.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

Representative Martin T. Causer
67th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives