HARRISBURG – State Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), Chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, issued the following statement today in response to the 43rd Statewide Investigating Grand Jury Report announced by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro Thursday.
Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry is one of the most regulated in the nation and is subject to regulations by DEP and EPA under numerous laws including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, the Clean Streams Law, the Air Pollution Control Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, erosion and sediment control and post-construction storm water discharge regulations to name a few. Clearly, oversight by environmental agencies is extensive. The Legislature passed Act 13, which raised 40 environmental protection standards. We passed Act 9, which required emergency response 911 plans. We passed Act 127, which requires pipelines to adhere to federal safety laws and empowers the PUC to enforce it. We passed an Impact Tax, which has provided $100 million to DEP and conservation districts to enforce environmental protection standards. In addition, we raised penalties for bad actors. In 100 pages of the Attorney General’s report, there isn’t one mention of the action by the Legislature.
Pennsylvania is now the 2nd largest producer of natural gas in the United States. That fact alone makes Pennsylvania one of the largest producers in the world. No governing administration of the state has acknowledged our position. Most importantly, no state administration has even tried to promote Pennsylvania’s position as a world leader in the natural gas market. The Wolf administration has paid lip service at best to the importance of this multi-billion dollar industry to Pennsylvania. From day one, the administration has attempted to degrade this industry, which does not rely on government handouts, with a severance tax. The administration’s Department of Environmental Protection has done everything in its power to regulate and restrict the industry into oblivion. In 2019, there were 700 wells drilled in Pennsylvania. Also, during 2019, there were 19,485 inspections of the industry. What other business in Pennsylvania has DEP on its doorstep that many times in a year?
When the industry continued to survive on the world stage, the administration’s response is to rehash claims through the Attorney General, which have been repudiated years ago. Many of these claims were actually rejected in Pennsylvania court cases. Talk about “black sludge water” went out the window with Yoko Ono’s aborted bus trip on the ice in 2009. It is absolutely embarrassing for a state, which is a world leader to have such a short sighted and myopic view of an industry of international importance. Their sentiment – ‘Let’s drive these people out of the state, now. We don’t want them.’