Gov. Wolf Admonishes House Republicans for Jeopardizing Nearly $1 Billion in Federal Transportation Funds

November 17, 2022

Governor Tom Wolf today admonished the House Republicans’ actions to disapprove Pennsylvania’s effort to update its volatile organic compound (VOC) regulation for conventional oil and gas wells — as required under the federal Clean Air Act — causing a delay in the process that will put Pennsylvania at risk of losing nearly a billion dollars in critical federal transportation funding. 

“It’s simply a disgrace that House Republicans are jeopardizing road and bridge repairs by holding up the administration’s efforts to make federally required updates,” Gov. Wolf said. “They hastily held a committee meeting this week without advance notice or transparency for the sole purpose of thwarting this regulation, which will jeopardize nearly a billion dollars in federal funding.”

On Monday, the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee chaired by state Representative Daryl Metcalfe convened an unannounced meeting to send a disapproval letter to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) regarding the conventional oil and gas VOC rulemaking. Under Pennsylvania’s Regulatory Review Act, this triggers a 14-day waiting period following the meeting of the Independent Regulatory Review Committee where the regulation is considered, currently scheduled for November 17. Because the 14-day waiting period will expire after November 30, when the General Assembly has adjourned, the regulation that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has moved forward cannot be finalized before the sanction trigger date of December 16.

“As a result of the House Republicans’ actions, state and local governments across the commonwealth will lose the authorization to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of federal transportation funding on affected projects,” Gov. Wolf said. “Because these regulations are required under the Clean Air Act, failure to submit them in final form to U.S. EPA by December 16, 2022, will result in EPA imposing non-discretionary sanctions, and the federal government would thus withhold nearly $1 billion of transportation funding ​– funding that cannot be recuperated. Sanctions can threaten a variety of projects, including highway expansion, new roadway construction, and many highway/bridge restoration and maintenance projects. This could result in some roads and bridges being closed or weight limited, longer commutes, longer ambulance response times, more wear and tear on Pennsylvanians’ cars, and Pennsylvanians’ federal gasoline tax dollars going to other states.

“This regulation is not controversial. It is a federally mandated, technology-based standard. There is no good reason to block the rulemaking but there are extreme consequences for doing so. We have been sounding the alarm for months about the real consequences of these actions and yet they insisted on disapproving the state’s VOC rule. ​

“My administration is reviewing all options to prevent the sanctions from being implemented.”

Gov. Wolf has served for two terms as a leader consistently at work for the people of Pennsylvania. Learn more about how his Priorities for Pennsylvania have fueled the commonwealth’s comeback, leaving Pennsylvania in a much better place than when he arrived.

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