Thursday, October 27, 2011

PEC Encouraged By Initial Senate Steps On Marcellus Issues, More Changes Needed

In response to Senate action this week on Marcellus Shale legislation-- Senate Bill 1100 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson), the PA Environmental Council released a statement Thursday saying, "We are again encouraged by the actions of the Senate to enact greater environmental and public protections."
Acknowledging more work needs to be done, PEC recommended a series of additional changes to complete the package, along with the adoption of a drilling fee or severance tax.
In its statement circulated to members of the Senate, PEC said, "We are again encouraged by the actions of the Senate to enact greater environmental and public protections. We understand that yesterday’s amendment of Senate Bill 1100 (P.N. 1723) was an initial step in an ongoing, albeit concisely timed, process to refine comprehensive changes to environmental and community protection standards and the imposition of an impact fee or severance tax.
"If Senate Bill 1100 is the vehicle and will receive further amendment in the days and weeks to follow, the additional measures outlined in this response document must be included in the final package. They represent informed and reasonable protections that have been already endorsed by environmental, industry and agency interests through the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission or other forums.
"Pennsylvania must get this right, and it must enact the proper laws to do so now. Thank you for your consideration.
"PEC has been deeply involved in these precise issues – as a member of the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission; through our own specific policy and legislative proposals for amending state law and regulation; and through testimony and other discussions at both the state and federal level.
" We offer the following detailed comments on Senate Bill 1100 to advocate for additional necessary changes that are critical to “getting it right” for what will be a multi-generational activity in Pennsylvania. Our perspective is based upon established, open dialog with decision makers and public and private interests involved in shale gas development."
The changes recommended by PEC 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 explicit authority for DEP to require water management plans in the Ohio River Basin;
-- Include a definition of "well site" to avoid confusion between a well pad and a well when measuring setback distances;
-- Authorize DEP to establish a site assessment and review process to identify key surface features and hazards;
-- 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;
-- Tighten up the language protecting sources of public drinking water as recommended by the Governor;
-- Include additional flexibility in well site restoration where there is an opportunity for a net reduction in surface or environmental impacts;
-- Recommend including an option to establish a Trust Fund by well operators to cover restoration requirements like the coal mining program does, in lieu of a blanket bond approach;
-- 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);
-- PEC opposes preemption of the ability of local governments to enact appropriate public protection for issues not directly addressed by the Oil and Gas Act and instead the state should provide help for local planning to support local governments.
A copy of PEC's recommendations is available online.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner