The following already-introduced bill has been acted upon by the Pennsylvania General Assembly:

PA House Bill 621      Format of documents recording lease assignments
Sponsor: Sandra Major (Republican – parts of Susquehanna and Wayne Counties [northeast Pennsylvania])
Overview: Requires that documents presented for recordation that contain or reference multiple leases include an addendum containing (1) the names of the lessor(s), (2) the prior recording information for the leasehold interest, and (3) the property with which each lease is associated.

Allows recorder of deeds to refuse, and his/her sole discretion, to record documents incorporating by reference or exhibit more than fifty (50) leases.

Current Status: Unanimously passed by House of Representatives on May 13, 2015.

Referred to Senate Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy on May 28, 2015.

The following bills have been introduced since the last Legislative Activity Update blog post:

PA Senate Bill 116     Natural Gas Severance Tax
Sponsor: James R. Brewster (Democrat – parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties [outside Pittsburgh])
Overview: Extensive natural gas severance tax bill imposing a tax of (1) “[f]our and seven tenths cents for each unit of natural gas severed measured at the wellhead meter,” (2) “[f]ive percent of the average market price … of each unit of the dry natural gas derived from the natural gas severed,” and (3) “[f]ive percent of the gross value of the natural gas liquids derived from the natural gas severed as shown by the gross proceeds derived from the sale by the producer.”

Sets a price floor of $2.97 per unit for purposes of calculating tax.

Prohibits producer from making the tax an obligation of the landowner or leaseholder.

Requires every producer to obtain a license from the Department of Revenue (“Department”) “before severing natural gas from this Commonwealth.”

Imposes criminal penalties for severing gas without a license from the Department.

Does not repeal or alter the Impact Fee, meaning that both the Impact Fee and the Severance Tax are payable by producers.

Alters distribution scheme for Impact Fee revenue.

Current Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy on May 14, 2015.
PA Senate Bill 801     Publication of Permits by DEP
Sponsor: Andrew E. Dinniman (Democrat – part of Chester County [outside Philadelphia])
Overview: Requires Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) to publish, on DEP’s website, the entirety of applications and supporting materials filed with the DEP related to the following permits:

  • Air quality permits under the “Air Pollution Control Act”;
  • Water allocation permits under the “Water Rights Law”;
  • Water obstruction permits under the “Dam Safety and Encroachments Act”;
  • Water quality permits, except those relating to coal mining activities, under the “Clean Streams Law”; and
  • Solid waste and hazardous waste permits under the “Solid Waste Management Act.”
Current Status: Referred to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on May 14, 2015.
PA Senate Bill 802     Notification of pipeline construction
Sponsor: Andrew E. Dinniman (Democrat – part of Chester County [outside Philadelphia])
Overview: Requires notice and information to be given to landowners within a half mile from boundary of proposed activity requiring certain permits.

Permits for which notice and information must be given include:

  • Air quality permits under the “Air Pollution Control Act”;
  • Water allocation permits under the “Water Rights Law”;
  • Water obstruction permits under the “Dam Safety and Encroachments Act”; and
  •  Water quality permits, except those relating to coal mining activities, under the “Clean Streams Law.”

Information provided in notice includes the following:

  • A description of the type of permit application;
  • Brief description of activity planned for project;
  • Statement that project activity is anticipated to have one or more impacts on landowner(s); and
  • Brief description of anticipated impact(s).

Notice must be given within 30 days of submission of application for permit.

Current Status: Referred to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on May 14, 2015.
PA Senate Bill 803     Protection of Act 43 farmland 
Sponsor: Andrew E. Dinniman (Democrat – part of Chester County [outside Philadelphia])
Overview: Amends Agricultural Area Security Law to require approval by Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board of pipeline projects that would involve condemnation of land used for “productive agricultural purposes” by Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and/or Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Applies only to the following county classes:

  • First Class (Philadelphia County);
  • Second Class and Second Class A (Allegheny, Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery counties); and
  • Third Class (Berks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Northampton, Westmoreland, and York counties).
Current Status: Referred to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on May 14, 2015.
PA Senate Bill 804     Amends Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Act
Sponsor: Andrew E. Dinniman (Democrat – part of Chester County [outside Philadelphia])
Overview: Pipeline operators purchasing or obtaining an easement for public land, agricultural-easement land, or permanently preserved land for new or expanded pipelines must purchase or grant an easement for an equivalent section of land within the respective county for recreational use.

Easement replacement obligation applies only to the following county classes:

  • First Class (Philadelphia County);
  • Second Class and Second Class A (Allegheny, Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery counties); and
  • Third Class (Berks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Northampton, Westmoreland, and York counties).

Pipeline operator engaged in construction or replacement of pipelines involving the alteration or development of land must ensure that post-construction volume and maximum rate of storm water runoff does not exceed pre-construction levels.

Current Status: Referred to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on May 14, 2015.
PA Senate Bill 845     Licensing of Soil Scientists
Sponsor: Judith L. Schwank (Democrat – part of Berks County)
Overview: Requires soil scientists to be licensed and provides for qualifications for same.
Current Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure on May 20, 2015.
PA House Bill 1099    Provides for independent counsel for the Environmental Quality Board
Sponsor: John Maher (Republican – parts of Allegheny and Washington Counties [outside Pittsburgh])
Overview: Requires the Department of Environmental Protection to appoint independent counsel for the benefit of the Environmental Quality Board (“EQB”).

Independent counsel shall assist EQB on all matters, “including, but not limited to, the review of rulemaking petitions submitted to the [EQB], the drafting and development of amendments to proposed and final rulemaking and advice relating to procedural matters.”

Provides that discussions between independent counsel and EQB are privileged.

Current Status: Reported out of House Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy (18 to 7) on May 12, 2015.
PA House Bill 1253    Professional licensure of engineers, land surveyors, and geologists
Sponsor: Mark Mustio (Republican – part of Allegheny County [outside Pittsburgh])
Overview: Removes certain exemptions to the professional licensure requirement for engineers, land surveyors, and geologists.

Specifically, the following exemptions from licensure have been eliminated:

  • The practice of engineering, land surveying or geology, not exceeding thirty days in the aggregate in one calendar year, by a nonresident not having a place of business in this Commonwealth;
  • The practice of engineering, land surveying or geology by any person or by any employee of any copartnership, association or corporation upon property owned by such person or such copartnership, association or corporation; and
  • The practice of engineering, land surveying or geology work by a manufacturing, mining, communications common carrier, research and development or other industrial corporation or by employees of such corporation, provided such work is in connection with or incidental to products of, or non-engineering services rendered by, such corporation or its affiliates.
Current Status: Referred to House Committee on Professional Licensure on May 28, 2015.
PA House Bill 1292    Hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure requirements
Sponsor: Dan Frankel (Democrat – Pittsburgh)
Overview: Amends Oil and Gas Act to clarify obligations of health professionals with respect to disclosure of trade secrets and/or confidential proprietary information.

Prohibits health professional from disseminating trade secret and/or confidential proprietary information except in following instances:

  • Disclosure relates to diagnosis or treatment of a patient and is provided to a person whose knowledge the health professional deems important to the diagnosis or treatment of the patient;
  • The disclosure occurs during procurement of payment for services rendered or planned;
  • The disclosure is provided to a public health official or is intended to further public health; or
  • The disclosure is used for the study of any chemical involved.

Removes ability of vendor, service provider, or operator to request a statement of need and a confidentiality agreement from health professional.

Current Status: Referred to House Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy on June 5, 2015.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson (barclay.nicholson@nortonrosefulbright.com or 713 651 3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright’s Energy Practice Group.