House OKs bill to relax rules for shallow gas, oil drilling


A Republican bill to relax regulations on the shallow oil and gas drilling that has gone on in Pennsylvania for more than a century is moving ahead in the Legislature despite opposition from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

The GOP-majority House voted 111 to 84 on Tuesday for a proposal that covers permits, rules for wells, spills and enforcement for drilling that does not include the much deeper wells tapping into the Marcellus shale formation.

Backers say the bill is needed because conventional well operators can’t afford to meet tougher standards designed for Marcellus shale production.

The Wolf administration says it’s strongly opposed, warning it would harm the environment and lessen landowner protections.

Eighteen Republicans, mostly from the Philadelphia suburbs, voted no, while 12 Democrats supported it.

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