Study: Pennsylvania does not enforce oil and gas regulations

Ambridge Reservoir threatened by Chesapeake Energy, the biggest violator of DEP regulations in the state.

Clean Air Council PA * Clean Water Action PA * Delaware Riverkeeper Network * Mountain Watershed Association * PennEnvironment * Sierra Club PA Chapter

New research reveals Pennsylvania does not
enforce oil and gas regulations

State enforcement data shows more than 85% of active PA wells go uninspected, discovered violations go increasingly unpunished, repeat violators undeterred
Sep 25th, Washington, D.C. — In association with six Pennsylvania groups, national resource extraction watchdog Earthworks today released an unprecedented study, Breaking All the Rules: The Crisis in Oil & Gas Regulation revealing that states across the country fail to enforce their oil and gas development regulations. The one-year, in-depth examination of enforcement data and practices — in Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, New York, New Mexico and Colorado — also includes interviews with ex-industry and state agency employees.
“Pennsylvania’s enforcement of state oil and gas rules is broken,” said Earthworks’ Senior Staff Attorney Bruce Baizel. He continued, “In Pennsylvania and across the country, public health and safety are at risk because states are failing to uphold the rule of law. Until Pennsylvania can guarantee they are adequately enforcing their own rules on an ongoing basis, the state must not permit new drilling.”
As recounted in the separate Pennsylvania-specific analysis, failure to enforce oil and gas regulations means that Pennsylvania is not seeking, documenting, sanctioning, deterring, and cleaning up problems associated with irresponsible oil and gas operations such as chemical spills, equipment failure, accidents, and discharges into drinking water supplies
Among the study’s findings —
  • More than 85% of all active oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania go uninspected each year: 66,000 wells.
  • Rule violators are rarely punished, even more rarely of late: on average only 20% of violators have been penalized in 2012, down from 24% in 2011.
  • Worst violators are getting worse: effective regulatory enforcement would stop repeat violators. In Pennsylvania, repeat violations are increasing.

Continue reading Study: Pennsylvania does not enforce oil and gas regulations

PA Court May Enjoin Voter ID Law

Commonwealth Court Justice Robert E. Simpson, Jr.

Pa. judge raises possibility he will move to block voter ID law

Angela Couloumbis | The Philadelphia Inquirer

HARRISBURG, Pa. — With just six weeks until the presidential election, a judge raised the possibility Tuesday that he would move to block Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law.

“I’m giving you a heads-up,” Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. told lawyers after a day’s testimony on whether the law is being implemented in ways that ensure no voters will be disenfranchised. “I think it’s a possibility there could be an injunction here.”

Simpson then asked lawyers on both sides to be prepared to return to court Thursday to present arguments on what such an injunction should look like. There is no hearing Wednesday because of Yom Kippur.

Simpson gave few if any further clues to what he may decide. But his comments provided a dramatic end to a day of testimony in a protracted and widely watched fight over the law, which requires voters to present photo identification at the polls.

Critics of the law have argued that it is being rushed into effect – it was enacted in March – and will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, particularly minorities, the elderly and the poor. Democrats have branded it a thinly veiled attempt by Republicans to suppress the vote for President Barack Obama on Nov. 6 and boost Mitt Romney’s chances of winning Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.

Continue reading PA Court May Enjoin Voter ID Law