Ullman: H.B. 827 is a threat to Pennsylvanians’ right to clean air and water

HARRISBURG, May 15 State Rep. Wendy Ullman is fighting against environmentally dangerous legislation that could be voted on at any moment.

Ullman argues that H.B. 827 undercuts an agency’s right to regulate Pennsylvania’s water quality and so threatens Pennsylvanians’ constitutional right to clean air and water.  The bill is expected to be voted on when the legislature returns to session in June.

“I’m fighting for our environment,” Ullman said. “Our environment’s health and welfare are dependent on upholding the authority of regulatory agencies such as Delaware River Basin Commission and our commonwealth’s constitution.”

The bill would address the regulations adopted by the DRBC that prohibit natural gas fracking activities within the basin, saying that the ban constitutes a taking of property. The bill would declare that the DRBC owes the oil and gas estate owners compensation.

Ullman said H.B. 827 would bankrupt the commission by requiring it to compensate landowners because hydraulic fracturing can’t take place on their property – even though the fracking ban does not prohibit other gas drilling and development activities.

The amendment to H.B. 827 that Ullman had proposed last week—that was ultimately defeated—held that a ban on hydraulic fracturing would not constitute a taking of property and emphasized the Pennsylvania Constitution’s guarantee of the right to safe water and a clean environment.

Ullman declared, “My amendment made it clear that the ban on development would solely be restricted to hydraulic fracturing, which does not make the property worthless, as proponents of H.B. 827 contend.

“H.B. 827 is short-sighted, ultimately seeking to strip an important regulatory agency of its mandated powers so that the few—property owners—can conduct hydraulic fracturing and so deprive the many—the people living within the borders of the Delaware River Basin, or 43% of Pennsylvania’s population–their right to clean air and water.”

The Delaware River Basin Commission was created in 1961 as a federal-interstate agency whose members are the governors of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York. DRBC’s powers and duties include oversight and regulation of water quality in the basin.