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Energy Related Bills Moving on Legislature’s Return

The House and Senate remain on a two week spring Holiday break, but several energy-related bills are teed up for their return.

A package of natural gas leaseholder protection bills authored by Senator Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) passed the Senate and now goes to the House for consideration. SB 1236 authorizes royalty interest owners to inspect records of gas companies to verify proper payments, SB 1237 prohibits gas companies from retaliating against royalty interest owners by terminating their lease agreements, and SB 1238 requires gas companies to file with the county Recorder of Deeds office when a lease is terminated.  Similar legislation has been introduced in the House by Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming.)

In the House, a bill to amend air quality regulations by providing for the repeal of imposing low-RVP summer gasoline standards in the Pittsburgh region was amended and reported from the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. SB 1037, sponsored by Sen. Vogel (R-Beaver), was introduced to save customers in the region from having to pay more for the more expensive “summer gas,” which is now only required in southwest Pennsylvania and a few counties in Maine.  Gasoline prices in the seven-county region last summer ranged as much as 18.87 cents more per gallon because of the EPA mandate.

The bill would repeal the requirement for “summer gas” in the region from May 1 – September 15, and DEP would have to adjust volatile organic compound emission limits in other sectors to make up for the repeal.  As amended, the bill would require DEP to start the process for amending the State Air Quality Implementation Plan within 60 days of the effective date of the act.  Once the EPA approves the amended SIP, the Environmental Quality Board would have to adopt a regulation eliminating the low-RVP gasoline requirement in Western Pennsylvania.

Rep. Eli Evankovich (R-Westmoreland) said, “This long-standing policy has cost the people of southwestern Pennsylvania unnecessarily for too long.”  North Carolina and Florida have recently passed repeals of similar requirements in those states, according to Committee Chairman Ron Miller (R-York.)