New measure encourages use of brine as non-waste

A redraft of the Oil and Gas Act put forth by State Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21) would essentially re-define brine and require the Department of Environmental Protection to “encourage” its use.

The measure, SB 1088, was referred to the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee back in March.

the legislation essentially splits the conventional and unconventional drilling industries and puts them under separate regulation.

“The conventional oil and gas industry has been in Pennsylvania and contributing to our economy for more than a century and a half. With the Marcellus Shale boom and the proliferation of advanced drilling methods, a new type of oil and gas industry developed in Pennsylvania,” State Senator Scott Hutchinson wrote in a co-sponsorship memo for the bill. “As a result, Act 13 of 2012 was passed to address some of the concerns and issues that were specific to this new unconventional industry.

“Although it was intended to address new issues with the unconventional industry, Act 13 also placed an unbearable burden on the much smaller conventional producers and over time has brought the conventional industry to near collapse.”

The brine issue is deep in a 68-piece draft.

“Consistent with the provisions of the Solid Waste Management Act which require the department (DEP) to encourage the beneficial use or reuse of residual waste derived from commercial and industrial purposes where the use does not harm or threaten public health, safety, welfare or the environment,” the legislation states.

“The department shall approve the use of brine for dust control, road stabilization, anti-icing and de-icing upon application using forms developed by the department and in accordance with conditions reasonably necessary for the protection of the environment and prevention of pollution.”

The legislation specifically states that DEP “may not impose conditions requiring brine to exceed the physical character or chemical composition of a commercial product for which the brine is an effective substitute.”

The proposed regulations go one step further to re-define in a way that it is not waste.

“Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary and to promote beneficial uses and legitimate recycling, material derived from produced water from conventional formations, but not limited to, salt, is not waste if: (1) the material is of a physical character and chemical composition that is consistently equivalent to an intentionally manufactured product or raw material; and (2) the use of the material presents no greater threat of harm to human health and the environment than the use of the product or raw material.”

A companion piece of legislation in the state House, HB 2154, passed 111-84 with Representative Kathy Rapp supporting the measure.