14 Sep PEC Statement on Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission Report
Today Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission has released its recommendations for managing the state’s burgeoning natural gas industry. The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) is encouraged by the fact that there was consensus among Commission members on a majority of measures surrounding environmental protection and public health and safety. Many of these recommendations were originally proposed by PEC earlier this year and were introduced to the Commission by PEC chairman Tony Bartolomeo.
So now it’s time to act. And act fast.
We’ve been discussing and debating Marcellus Shale legislation and regulations for more than two years. And with each passing day, the Department of Environmental Protection approves permit applications for new wells to be drilled somewhere in Pennsylvania. The people of Pennsylvania have waited patiently for their elected officials to lead on this issue. While PEC does not support every recommendation in the Commission Report, there are a significant number of recommendations that did achieve consensus and which deserve immediate attention.
With this consensus among industry and environmental community interests, as well as the DEP, on how to better regulate Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale gas industry, the time has come for the Governor and legislature to put this plan into action.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council calls on Governor Corbett to request a special session of the General Assembly for the express purpose of enacting legislation that will govern the development of natural gas from Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale.
Specifically, we believe this legislation should amend the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Act as follows:
- Incorporate all applicable environmental protection recommendations outlined in the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission’s report.
- Expand the permitting process to allow for the option of regional comprehensive planning, in advance of individual site approvals, as a means to reduce surface and cumulative impacts of regional importance.
- Give DEP the authority to deny permits based on impacts to public resources; and expand the list of public resources to include additional sensitive ecological areas such as designated high quality or exceptional value waters.
- Ensure that DEP has sufficient authority to quickly adapt policies and controls in response to new technologies or information that are still unknown.
While the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission report touches upon issues that go beyond the purview of the Oil & Gas Act and in themselves require immediate attention, we believe it is now clear that meaningful and effective legislative updates to the Act can be accomplished quickly this fall. The path has been made clear – we must act now.