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A bill to address orphan oil and gas wells has passed the state legislature.

State Rep. Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana) introduced HB 2528, which would allow any Pennsylvania company to bid on contracts awarded by the Department of Environmental Protection to dig oil and gas wells, regardless of the size of the business. The legislation addresses decades-old environmental issues, Struzzi said, and creates jobs for Pennsylvania.

“For too long, we have basically ignored our orphan oil and gas wells, which now number over 200,000, and simply relied on the Department of Environmental Protection, which reduced the list of only 20 in the past two years,” says Struzzi. “The situation is compounded by the fact that local businesses that could solve the problem are being ignored in favor of out-of-state entities, which is a slap in the face for the Pennsylvania worker.”

Struzzi said the legislation would ensure Pennsylvania businesses don’t lose out to out-of-state companies for well-connected contracts due to arbitrary size requirements. Struzzi said amendments to the bill made in the Senate bring the legislation into line with federal funding opportunity guidelines. In addition, the legislation increased the subsidy amounts so that they could adequately compensate workers with prevailing wages.

“Pennsylvania’s well-connected businesses deserve a fair shake for the more than $400 million sent to us by the federal government aimed at solving the problem,” Struzzi said. “This is a pro-jobs, pro-small business, pro-Pennsylvania bill that needs to find its way into law. Governor Tom Wolf can make it happen.

The bill passed unanimously in the House, as well as the Senate, and headed to Governor Wolf’s office on October 27 for his signature.

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