Maher Bill Strengthens Environmental Quality Board
HARRISBURG – The House has advanced legislation, sponsored by Rep. John Maher (R-Allegheny/Washington), majority chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, which would help to ensure the integrity of the rules and regulations governing Pennsylvania environmental law.

In Pennsylvania, all environmental regulations are issued by the Environmental Quality Board (EQB). Despite the complicated legal issues often involved, the EQB has never had its own legal counsel, instead depending on legal judgments of lawyers who have no duty to the EQB or its members. House Bill 1099 would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to appoint an independent legal counsel who would have a clear duty to the EQB. The independent counsel would assist EQB members on issues and actions before the board, and would provide advice on procedural matters.

“Clean air, water and land are important to all Pennsylvanians,” Maher said. “The Environmental Quality Board is comprised of a variety of cabinet secretaries, heads of boards and commissions and members of the General Assembly. It makes decisions that affect the health and safety of our environment and Pennsylvania citizens, but despite its important role, the EQB has no attorney with a clear duty to call straight-forward balls and strikes on legal issues.”

In order to avoid a structural conflict of interest - real or perceived - Maher is proposing the appointment of an independent counsel to the board. To ensure independence, Maher’s bill would also protect the confidentiality of communication between counsel and individual members.

House Bill 1099 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Representative John Maher
40th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Donna Pinkham