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House passes oil and gas regs without brine language

Regulations for the conventional oil and gas industry have cleared the state House of Representatives without language that would permit the use of wastewater as, among other things, a dust suppressant on dirt roads.

SB 790 now goes back to the Senate for consideration after the 109-93 vote in the House on May 27.

Warren County Representative Kathy Rapp was a “yes” vote on the bill.

Back in January, the House struck language from the bill that would have created a path for the use of brine.

Martin Causer, who represents the 67th district which includes all of Cameron and McKean as well as part of Potter County, put forth the amendment to strike the brine language, online committee records indicate.

Per those records, the amendment “removes the portion of the bill allowing for use of brine on unpaved roads and lowers spill amounts that would trigger reporting requirements.”

The original bill — with brine language — narrowly passed in the Senate last October and has now been referred to the Senate’s committee on Rules and Executive Nominations.

The genesis of a de facto state-wide moratorium placed on brine spreading — used by some municipalities as a dust suppressant on dirt roads as well as a de-icing agent — dates to a 2017 appeal filed by a Farmington Township resident, Siri Lawson.

She challenged a permit that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had issued to a local firm that had been contracted by the township to spread brine on dirt roads in the township.

The state’s Environmental Hearing Board ultimately dismissed Lawson’s petition but not until DEP acknowledged in a filing that brine should be classified as a residual waste under the Solid Waste Management Act.

Since that decision last May, DEP has essentially had to go back to the drawing board to develop regulations and procedures on this issue and the General Assembly has considered — but not passed — any potential solution.

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