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PIOGA eWeekly 3/30/20

Monday, March 30, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matt Benson
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March 30, 2020

PIOGA: Helping the industry to continue operating safely during the COVID-19 crisis
As all levels of government take steps to contain the coronavirus, PIOGA is helping keep members informed so that they can safely continue the essential job of providing crude oil and natural gas for Pennsylvania and beyond. We are continually updating the PIOGA COVID-19 Response Page of our website with information and resources aimed first at the oil and gas industry and secondly at small and midsize businesses.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announcement below about the agency's new enforcement discretion policy is among the most recent updates. Other items added over the past week include:
  • Information about new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act
  • What's happening with Pennsylvania's state agencies
  • Identifying your employees as workers in a life-sustaining business
  • Federal government energy-related waivers
  • Pennsylvania Governor: Oil & Natural Gas Industry is a "Life-Sustaining Business"
  • Department of Labor information about the new paid leave act (Families First Coronavirus Response Act)
  • Links to a variety of state, federal and industry resources
We encourage you to visit this page daily. PIOGA also wants you to know that we stand ready to assist members with any issues related to continuing your operations at this time. Please see Dan Weaver's contact information at right to discuss any such matters.
EPA announces enforcement discretion policy for COVID-19 pandemic
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on March 26 announced a temporary policy regarding its enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy applies to civil violations during the COVID-19 outbreak. The policy addresses different categories of noncompliance differently. For example, under the policy EPA does not expect to seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations that are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic but does expect operators of public water systems to continue to ensure the safety of our drinking water supplies. The policy also describes the steps that regulated facilities should take to qualify for enforcement discretion.

The temporary policy makes it clear that EPA expects regulated facilities to comply with regulatory requirements, where reasonably practicable, and to return to compliance as quickly as possible. To be eligible for enforcement discretion, the policy also requires facilities to document decisions made to prevent or mitigate noncompliance and demonstrate how the noncompliance was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy does not provide leniency for intentional criminal violations of law. The policy does not apply to activities that are carried out under Superfund and RCRA Corrective Action enforcement instruments.

EPA's policy will apply retroactively beginning on March 13, 2020. EPA will assess the continued need for and scope of this temporary policy on a regular basis and will update it if EPA determines modifications are necessary. In order to provide fair and sufficient notice to the public, EPA will post a notification on the page linked below at least 7 days prior to terminating this temporary policy.

Click here for the EPA Policy on Enforcement during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Tax credit legislation vetoed
In the end, Governor Tom Wolf did what he said he was going to do, on Friday vetoing legislation establishing a tax credit for petrochemical facilities using Pennsylvania-produced natural gas. House Bill 1100 had the strong support of the building trades and passed both chambers of the legislature by large majorities.

HB 1100 would have provided a tax credit to companies that used Pennsylvania natural gas to create fertilizer or petrochemicals at Pennsylvania-based plants. The legislation would have required companies to make a $450 million investment in the plant and hire at least 800 full-time workers across the construction and operational phases of the plant's life in order to receive a tax credit, which they would have been able to apply against up to 20 percent of their tax liability.

The bill would require that companies pay the prevailing wage to workers that build, maintain and repair the facility. However, Wolf wrote in his veto message that the bill lacks enforcement safeguards to ensure that workers are paid the prevailing wage.

The governor also cited the COVID-19 crisis as a reason to axe the legislation. "Rather than enacting this bill, which gives a significant tax credit for energy and fertilizer manufacturing projects, we need to work together in a bipartisan manner to promote job creation and to enact financial stimulus packages for the benefit of Pennsylvanians who are hurting as they struggle with the substantial economic fallout of COVID-19," Wolf said.

According to one published report, legislative leaders intend to work to convince their colleagues to override Wolf's veto - something they have until the end of November to accomplish.
Weekly News Clips
Articles of interest to Pennsylvania's oil and gas industry from publications around the region over the past week. Here are some highlights:
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PIOGA is working remotely, but we continue to work for our members! Our office is closed in compliance with directives to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, staff members are working from home to continue to provide all regular association services, as well as to help with industry response to the coronavirus pandemic. Please contact us via email or any of the phone numbers below:

Dan Weaver

Kevin Moody

Joyce Turkaly

Matt Benson

Debbie Oyler

Danielle Boston

Deana McMahan
Be sure we can reach you. Bulk emails such as the PIOGA eWeekly can often wind up in your junk folder, so please check regularly and make sure PIOGA is marked as a safe sender.

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