PA House Passes Clean Streams Bill Amendment; critics say it will weaken the app

STATE IMPACT IN PENNSYLVANIA – Lawmakers are proposing a measure to change state law on clean flows.

Supporters say it will make the law more convenient for businesses to follow, but critics say it will not be practical to enforce it.

A section of Polen Run, a stream in Greene County mined by Consol Energy, which the company repaired after subsidence. Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Under House Bill 1842, the Department of Environmental Protection would have one year to determine how much of each type of pollutant a person can release before being required to report it.

Now, if someone spills a quantity of something toxic or potentially damaging, they must alert DEP, who will determine if the spill is a threat and how to clean it up.

Supporters said digital standards for pollution law enforcement would align Pennsylvania with neighboring states.

“DEP is all about writing reports and imposing fines, but cleaning up actual spills and determining them as true pollutants doesn’t seem to be their forte,” said representative David Zimmerman (R-Lancaster), the project sponsor. of law.

Zimmerman said the current practice of DEP, which can vary by region, is unfair to farmers and businesses. He said determining what constitutes a hazardous spill could allow DEP staff to focus on real emergencies.

Opponents said the bill would undermine the state’s ability to protect its waterways.

“We are being asked to force DEP to anticipate all possible spill scenarios in advance and write regulations dictating regulatory requirements for each,” said Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny).

Critics say the one-year deadline for creating new regulations is particularly impractical. New regulations often take up to two years to develop.

The bill was passed in the House primarily on the basis of parties and is now moving to the Senate.

The Wolf administration is opposed to it. In a statement, he said the bill “facilitates the pollution of our waters by removing the essential safeguards of the Clean Waterways Act that protect our waterways.”

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