December 7, 2011
PA General Assembly: No More Delays!
Pennsylvania Must Pass Comprehensive Changes to Existing Oil & Gas Regulations by End of Session
(HARRISBURG, PA)—Matthew J. Ehrhart, Pennsylvania Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and member of the Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, today issued the following statement:
"The environment and our communities cannot afford any more delays. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation continues to urge the Pennsylvania General Assembly to work together to resolve the important issues surrounding the extraction of natural gas from unconventional shale formations.
By blending the best parts of SB 1100 and HB 1950, the legislature has an historic opportunity to apply appropriate and meaningful bonding fees, establish a fair impact fee, secure funding to important programs like Growing Greener, and establish firm environmental laws that protect the health, safety, and welfare of the Commonwealth's citizens.
It is imperative that the legislature pass meaningful, comprehensive legislation that addresses the needs of the citizens of the Commonwealth, provides a framework for the future of this industry in our state, protects our water and other natural resources, and ensures that our communities are not left with any burdens for future generations to bear. The time is now and we must get it right."
Any final legislative package must include the following changes to the Oil and Gas Act, as recommended by the Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Board:
- Defining the term waterbody to include, smaller streams, not currently captured by definitions which refer only to larger streams defined on a USGS map. The definition should also include other water features, such as marshes, lakes, ponds, wetlands and swamps. An additional 100' setback should be imposed on streams or a waterbody from the edge of disturbance.
- Clarifying DEP's authority to condition and deny permits when protecting public resources;
- Defining the term Best Management Practices ("BMP's") and requiring BMP's, especially in areas with Exceptional Value or High Quality streams and when drilling will occur in a floodplain;
- Requiring erosion and sedimentation control inspections prior to the commencement of drilling activities; and
- Identifying areas of high ecological value and allowing DEP to consider these important areas as a reason to condition a permit.
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