February 6, 2012
PA General Assembly: Move HB1950 Forward
The Commonwealth Must Not Miss this Opportunity to Enact Meaningful Legislation to Guide the Future of Drilling for Natural Gas in Pennsylvania
(HARRISBURG, PA)—Matthew J. Ehrhart, Pennsylvania Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and a member of the Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, today issued the following statement in response to the final Marcellus bill being voted out of conference committee.
"HB1950 represents a tremendous step forward for the Commonwealth in managing current and future drilling operations in the Marcellus Shale formation. This bill combines the best of the environmental protection provisions from both SB1100 and HB1950, and improved upon them. The result is a package that while not perfect, will help protect Pennsylvania's environment.
"This bill is the only option we have to increase protections to the environment and our communities. CBF supports much of the proposed language of HB1950, and encourages the General Assembly to work together to pass this legislation.
"We are encouraged by the attention paid to increased environmental protections. Specifically, the Bill would provide: protective setbacks from wells, public drinking supplies, structures, streams, and wetlands over one acre; post-construction management plans; floodplain protections; water management plans; for required erosion & sediment inspection before drilling can begin; for required best management practices for chemical storage; standards for drill-site containment practices; clear authorization to DEP for the management and oversight of wells; and increased fines and bonding.
"The Bill also provides tremendous financial resources to the Growing Greener program and other environmental interests such as water infrastructure, sewer infrastructure, and watershed projects. CBF does, however, believe that a significantly higher impact fee is warranted.
"There are a few issues that were left out of this legislation and that we will work to resolve. These include: a more inclusive definition of water and water bodies; required disclosure of fracking chemicals for all drilling operations, not only unconventional wells; and requiring complete public disclosure of waste water manifesting. Additional concerns, as previously addressed by the Governor's Marcellus Shale Commission will continue to be key topics for further discussion.
"CBF encourages the leaders of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate to move HB1950 forward. If we don't pass this legislation now, we are postponing actions to protect our environment and our communities, which is something we simply should not do."