Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said the federal government should establish a single set of standards for regulating the natural gas industry.
Casey has sponsored a bill that would give federal regulators more enforcement power over the industry. But recent actions by the Environmental Protection Agency in Texas indicate that battles could emerge between state and federal regulators. .
The natural gas industry is exempt from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. But the EPA recently took enforcement action against a driller in Texas, after concluding its activities had contaminated residential drinking water supplies with methane and benzene.
The Texas-based company, Range Resources, is also one of the major players tapping Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale gas reserves. The company said its drilling did not cause the contamination.
But the EPA’s emergency order not only raised the ire of Range, it also stepped on the toes of Texas regulators, who called the EPA’s actions “premature.”
Senator Bob Casey said he wants to make the natural gas industry more accountable to federal regulators, despite what he calls Pennsylvania’s tough standards.
“But even if the state had the resources and had enough in the way of regulation and law, I still believe there should be uniformity across the country about this process,” he said.
Casey said if Pennsylvania’s regulations are stricter than other states, the industry will run across the border. And Pennsylvania should not be punished for regulatory enforcement.
He said beefing up federal regulations and enforcement powers will be more difficult with a Republican-controlled House.