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Budget Deal Included Changes to Drilling Regulations, Lawsuits Continue

With Corbett’s approval of the budget and fiscal code bills, the state Department of Environmental Protection will need to reevaluate its yet-to-be-finalized two-year overhaul of drilling regulations.

The draft rules implement key provisions of Act 13 – Pennsylvania’s 2012 oil and gas law. They deal with surface activities on and around well sites, including waste handling, spill prevention, and protecting environmental resources.

As previously reported in AER, language was included in the fiscal code bill that changes the rules for oil and gas wells. The change mirrors a bill introduced by Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) that would make a distinction between modern and conventional wells.

During floor debate, Democrats challenged the constitutionality of the move, noting that bills are supposed to adhere to one subject, but the objections were overruled in the House.

The budget also establishes the state’s authority to enact a new round of leasing publicly owned lands for natural gas drilling and authorizes the diversion of another $220 million from the fund into the state government’s operating budget.