Marcellus Trade Group Issues Recommended Practices for Site Work

The State Journal
26 April 2012
By Pam Kasey

The Marcellus Shale Coalition released the first document April 26 in a series of "recommended practices" documents aimed at providing guidance on a range of subjects.

"These content-rich guidance documents represent a level of detail and transparency derived from many sources which will be updated and refined as development continues," said Dave Spigelmyer of Chesapeake Energy, chairman of the Canonsburg, Pa.-based trade group.

The first document, "Recommended Practices: Site Planning, Development and Restoration," is based on operational best practices already recognized by MSC members as well as on recommendations developed through consultation with leading sportsmen and conservation groups, according to an overview.

"Following these practices encourages the use of state-of-the art techniques for environmental protection, the continuous improvement of site-development and land-restoration practices, and the recognition that operators must consider themselves responsible members of the communities in which they work," the overview reads. "The implementation of these practices provides the best opportunity for sustained economic benefits reaching both operators and communities alike."

Most of the 34-page document consists of a detailed section on site planning, development and restoration.

"Operators are encouraged to coordinate closely with surface owners — whether they be private individuals, businesses or governmental agencies — on all aspects of site location and design," reads part of the discussion in site recommendations on working with surface owners.

"Operators should be willing to modify plans to account for reasonable requests for such items as access road retention, pond retention, wildlife habitat improvements, vegetative screening, site drainage improvements and swales, and the creation of habitat features like brush piles, vernal ponds, and nesting or cover areas," it reads.

A one-page section stresses the importance of health and safety practices in site work and refers operators to relevant federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration fact sheets.

Also included are appendices on forest restoration; re-establishment of the American chestnut; reclamation recommendations from the National Wild Turkey Federation; contact information for regulatory and conservation agencies in Ohio, Pennsylvania and, West Virginia as well as at the federal level; a list of references to restoration recommendations prepared by government agencies and universities; and a list of habitat, species, sportsman and agricultural organizations.

The MSC is developing its recommended practices documents through months of research, stakeholder outreach and collaboration among MSC member companies, the organization's media release said.

Download the site recommendations document overview and the full document from the MSC's website.