Governor Wolf Vetoes Bill That Favored Oil Interests Over Public Health and Safety

Statement from Adam Peltz, Senior Attorney, Energy

November 25, 2020
Elaine Labalme, 412-996-4112,

(HARRISBURG, Pa.) Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf today vetoed Senate Bill 790, the fundamentally flawed legislation that would have reduced health and environmental protections for the oil and gas industry and shifted costs and risks to taxpayers.

The bill would have effectively rolled back regulations for operators who use conventional methods of drilling to produce oil and gas. It would revert environmental protections back to decades-old standards and, in some cases, make them even weaker.

“We commend Gov. Wolf for vetoing a dangerous bill that would put the health and safety of Pennsylvanians at risk. This sledgehammer of a law would roll back decades of common sense safety and environmental protections, creating scores of unintended consequences.”


Among the most overt issues with the bill are:

  • A provision to allow operators to replace residential water supplies they damage with a substitute that doesn’t meet Pennsylvania’s drinking water standards.
  • Arbitrary limits on bonding and financial assurance measures. This move could increase the likelihood that taxpayers, not oil companies, would have to pay to remediate orphaned and abandoned wells. Pennsylvania is already dealing with a multi-billion-dollar orphaned and abandoned well legacy problem because of historically lax bonding and financial assurance requirements.
  • The effective elimination of reporting of certain spills that damage land and water resources, creating extraordinary risk to groundwater and streams.
  • An unwise relaxation of well integrity, groundwater protection, and plugging and remediation standards that runs counter to common industry practices.
  • Limited local government input, public participation and public resource protection.

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