Friday, October 28, 2011

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Sees Good Changes In Senate Bill 1100, Suggests Additions

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued a statement Friday saying they were encouraged with the changes made to Senate Bill 1100 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson) to better protect the environment and water quality from potential impacts by Marcellus Shale drilling and made several suggestions for strengthening the bill.
"(W)e are encouraged to see a number of important recommendations from the final Commission Report. Manifesting of wastewater, increased setbacks, increased bonding, expansion of notice requirements and plugging of abandoned wells are just a few of the notable changes to the Oil and Gas Act.
"However, at this time we would also like to offer a few areas we believe Senate Bill 1100 could be improved to ensure it addresses all necessary environmental, health and safety concerns
The changes recommended by CBF include:
-- Include a definition of best management practices to be incorporated into DEP standards and guidance;
-- Establish a definition of stream, spring or body of water consistent with other DEP programs;
-- Include a definition of "well site" to avoid confusion between a well pad and a well when measuring setback distances;
-- Include a definition of floodplain and flood fringe;
-- Include enhanced and inspection and monitoring requirements consistent with the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission report;
-- Require operators to give DEP advance notice of the state of key drilling and production activities;
-- Provide specific statutory language for water management plans;
-- Clarify that setbacks are measured from the edge of disturbance;
-- Increase the setback distance for wetlands to 300 feet for wetlands of an acre or greater;
-- Tighten up the language protecting sources of public drinking water as recommended by the Governor; and
-- Adopt a reasonable drilling fee or severance tax with a significant portion dedicated to addressing the cumulative impacts of drilling and to fund the Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener).
A copy of CBF's recommendations is available online.

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