Citizens Advisory Councils Issue Reports On Gas Issues

From Potter County Today

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Two citizens’ groups have presented reports on issues related to Marcellus Shale natural gas development in Pennsylvania. Advisory councils appointed by the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection and Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources held regional hearings and met with industry representatives and agency staff. These sessions resulted in a list of issues that the two state agencies will evaluate:

  • Bonding: The legal requirement under the Oil and Gas Act is clearly inadequate and needs to be updated.
  • Water wells: 1. DEP needs to evaluate the validity/adequacy of the 1000 foot presumption of liability in the Oil and Gas Law; 2. DEP is creating a list of parameters for water well testing so that homeowners know what to test for and what it will cost; 3. the DEP advisory council continues to advocate for passage of new water well construction standards as one means to reduce the impacts of gas migration on homeowner’s water supplies.
  • Staff:  Both agencies need to regularly evaluate the sufficiency of staff needed to properly manage Marcellus Shale development.
  • Forests: Bureau of Forestry needs to monitor the impact of Marcellus development on the integrity of the state forest resource.  The state forest has been certified for sustainability, which could be negatively impacted by the scope of this development.
  • Gas Development Infrastructure (e.g., gathering and transmission lines, water impoundments, compressor stations, etc.): Companies should pursue a comprehensive local and regional coordinated approach to this development.  This includes coordination of efforts to minimize forest fragmentation, as well as co-location and/or sharing of infrastructure such as pipelines, compressor stations, roads and water impoundments.
  • Severance Tax/Impact Fee: A significant portion of the proceeds should be dedicated to land, water and wildlife conservation and to local governments impacted by gas development.
  • Unplugged Wells: 1. Companies should be  required to locate and plug orphan and abandoned wells in their area of activity; DEP’s orphan well plugging program needs to be adequately funded.

“The Marcellus Play is an enormous opportunity if developed responsibly,” the councils concluded. “It has the potential to be disastrous, if not.  Companies must do their absolute best to avoid/minimize impacts.  Companies need to work together to ensure the best environmental outcomes.”

Potter County Today is a timely information site courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners. Reprinted with Permission.


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