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Marcellus Shale Recommendations:

July 25, 2011

Comparisons between Gov. Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission (MSAC) and the PA Campaign for Clean Water (CCW)


Key Items Ignored by MSAC:

CCW Recommendations


MSAC Recommendations
Establish a moratorium on further drilling.


Conduct a cumulative impact analysis to determine impacts of Marcellus Shale drilling on air, land, and water.


Address the current unplanned and unregulated impacts of gas pipelines being built throughout the state.


Address air pollution impacts from gas extraction, including removing permit exemptions and requiring best available control technology.


Drilling companies should be required to test nearby drinking water wells, prior to any drilling occurring, similar to requirements currently on mining. None.


Key Items Recommended by MSAC with Negative Impacts:

CCW Recommendations


MSAC Recommendations
Prevent forced pooling. Efforts to regulate spacing of wells should not be used as a justification for forcing property owners to sign leases they do not want.


Update forced pooling laws to cover drilling in the various deep gas formations as a way to require full extraction of the energy resource.
Prohibit further leasing of State Forests and maintain the current moratorium on this practice. Leasing of state parks and all other publicly owned land should also be prohibited. Rejected an amendment calling for no future leasing of State Forests for drilling and threw its support behind a recommendation to minimize disruption of the surface land in any future forest drilling.
Protect community rights by continuing to allow for stricter local zoning laws and requiring drilling companies to respect these laws during planning and operations. Allow for local zoning laws to keep a check on drilling only as long as they don’t “unreasonably impede” the industry.


Key Items Recommended by MSAC Recognizing Lack of Protections:

CCW Recommendations


MSAC Recommendations
Setbacks for wells should be increased to 3,000 ft from structures & water sources (i.e., based on the Duke University study indicating methane migration at this distance)— with a strong recommendation of 5,000 ft to provide a margin of safety.


Setbacks for wells should be increased to 500 ft from structures and private water sources and 1,000 ft from all public water sources, except when those water authorities or owners waive that right.
Increase presumed zone of contamination to 5,000 feet and eliminate any expiration of this presumption.


Increase presumed zone of contamination to 2,500 feet and increase the time limit to 1 year.
Prohibit discharge of drilling wastewater to rivers and require a public tracking system for wastewater.


Well operators should be required to track and report drilling wastewater shipments.
Implement an impact fee or severance tax to ensure that gas drillers pay the full cost of permanently removing valuable natural resources from the Commonwealth and for the mitigation and clean-­up of subsequent damage to water, air, and land—problems that affect all Pennsylvanians.


Levying a generic local impact fee (no specific amount recommended). Uses for the revenue should include state agencies for help with oversight, emergency response, and community projects to protect and restore land, wildlife, water resources, and outdoor recreation opportunities.
Minimum penalties should be accessed for companies that break state laws, pollute the environment, or put public health at risk. “Repeat offenders” should be restricted from further drilling Bond requirements should also be increased. Penalties should be doubled for drillers who violate Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rules. Drilling rights and permits of violators should be able to be suspended or revoked faster by the Department of Environmental Protection.


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