LETTER: Wolf made the right decision
Governor Wolf made the right decision to veto HB 1327, the fiscal code bill that was passed by the legislature in mid-March. The Governor’s decision demonstrates the sincerity of his promise to uphold the law and constitution of the Commonwealth, as well as his integrity and commitment to finalizing long-overdue, common sense oil and gas regulations.
The fiscal code is supposed to simply implement the budget; however, the legislature included harmful and inappropriate provisions in HB 1327 concerning the Chapter 78 oil and gas regulations that would not only result in bad policy but are also likely unconstitutional. Article III, Section 3 of the State Constitution limits the subject matter of statutes implementing Pennsylvania’s budget to spending matters and the HB 1327 provisions pertaining to the Chapter 78 regulations extend beyond the bound of that constitutional limitation.
This unconstitutional language would upend public policies that are the result of rigorous public comment processes. Throughout the Chapter 78 process, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) held 12 public hearings and 2 written comment periods. During the 2014 comment period alone, the DEP received more than 24,000 comments which overwhelmingly supported stronger regulations for both conventional and unconventional oil and gas drilling operations.
Without the Governor’s veto, HB 1327 would have endangered the Commonwealth’s land and water resources, harmed public health and our communities – and would have thrown away thousands of hours of work and millions of dollars the state has spent developing new standards during the last three years. On behalf of the 25,000 members and 80,000 supporters of the Sierra Club in Pennsylvania, our sincere thanks go out to Governor Wolf.
Sierra Club PA Chapter director