Legislation supporting workers, environmental issues goes to Wolf for signature

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A bill designed to address orphaned oil and gas wells has passed the state legislature.

State Rep. Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana) introduced H.B. 2528, which would allow any Pennsylvania company to bid for contracts awarded by the Department of Environmental Protection to pug oil and gas wells, regardless of the size of the business. The legislation addresses decades-old environmental problems, Struzzi said, and provides jobs for Pennsylvania.

“For far too long, we have basically ignored our orphaned oil and gas wells, which now number somewhere in excess of 200,000, and simply relied on the Department of Environmental Protection, which reduced the list by only 20 over the last two years,” said Struzzi. “Aggravating the situation is local companies who could be addressing the problem being ignored in favor of out-of-state entities, which is a slap in the face to the Pennsylvania worker.”

Struzzi said the legislation would ensure that Pennsylvania companies don’t lose out to out-of-state companies for well-plugging contracts due to arbitrary size requirements. Struzzi said amendments to the bill made in the Senate put the legislation in line with federal guidelines for funding opportunities. Additionally, the legislation increased grant amounts so they could adequately compensate workers with prevailing wages.

“Pennsylvania well-plugging companies deserve a fair shake when it comes to the more than $400 million headed our way from the federal government and targeted at resolving the problem,” Struzzi said. “This is a pro-jobs, pro-small business, and pro-Pennsylvania bill that needs to find its way into law. Gov. Tom Wolf can make that happen.”

The bill passed unanimously in the House, as well as passing in the Senate, and headed to Gov. Wolf’s desk on Oct. 27 for his signature.