On Monday evening, the House, on a divided vote, adopted a Senate amendment to House Bill 524 which contained a version of the oil and gas industry's bill, HB 458.
The version of the bill adopted by the House, and which now goes to the Governor, seeks to preempt local government authority over the oil and gas industry when the law takes effect (three months from adjournment) and calls for a state regulatory program but contains no timeframe for development of that state program, except for regulations on gathering lines, which must be adopted within six months of the effective date of the law.
HB 524 as amended remains an irresponsible bill. KRC is consulting with other groups on strategy, and will likely request the Governor to veto HB 524. A separate action alert will follow.
In the meantime, KRC thanks each of you who contacted a legislator concerning HB 458. Despite an aggressive and well-funded campaign by the oil and gas industry and their contract lobbyists, HB 458 LOST the support of ten members in the House when it returned even with the Senate amendments, and when it was voted on yesterday as HB 524, garnered only 54 "yeas" and 30 "nays," with 16 not voting. Your efforts did make a difference; creating enough pressure and raising enough concern that the industry was forced to accept a mandate that they did not want for a statewide regulatory program as the price for a law undercutting Letcher County's efforts to prevent industry abuse. Without you, HB 458 would very probably have become law with no state program mandate.
Rep. Jim Wayne again spoke against the bill, and his courage is again appreciated. Others voting "no" on HB 524 included Representatives Royce Adams, Ballard, Baugh, Belcher, D.D. Butler, Cornett, Embry, Farmer, Feeley, Fischer, Graham, Harmon, Higdon, Hoffman, Jenkins, Kerr, Jimmie Lee, Montell, Napier, Nelson, Nunn, Pasley, Pullin, Speaker Jody Richards, Riggs, A. Smith, B. Smith, Stein, Wayne, and Westrom. Those not voting included Bather, Callahan, Draud, Gooch, Hall, Haydon, Lindsay, Marcotte, Marzian, Mobley, Reinhardt, SIler, Simpson, Walton, Weaver and Wilkey. If your Representative voted "no" send them a note of appreciation. If they were absent, ask them to record a "no" vote when the House returns on March 24. If they voted "yea," express your disappointment.