Pa. Marcellus Shale Commission Issues 96-Recommendation Report

Impact fee, public notice and comment among the 30-member commission's recommendations.

The State Journal
22 July 2011
By Pam Kasey

Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission released its recommendations July 22 for the state’s encouragement and regulation of the industry.

Gov. Tom Corbett appointed the 30-member commission in March and has resisted engaging in the issues — prominent among them during recent budget talks, the question of whether a severance tax, impact fee or neither should be imposed on the industry — until its report was released.

Interests represented on the commission included environmental, industry and regulatory.

The wide-ranging, 96-recommendation report comes as a select legislative committee is considering rules for West Virginia’s Marcellus industry. Some recommendations related to issues under consideration in West Virginia include:

    * Public notice and comment for well permit applications;
    * Operator tracking of the transport, processing and treatment or disposal of wastewater;
    * Increase of bonds from $2,500 per well and $25,000 blanket bond per operator to $10,000 for wellbores greater than 6,000 feet and up to $250,000 blanket bond per operator;
    * Imposition of additional conditions for wellsites in floodplains, including prohibiting them in some instances;
    * Increase minimum setback from a private well from 250 to 500 feet; establish minimum setback from a public water supply of 1,000 feet;
    * Expansion of an operator’s presumed liability for impaired water quality from within 1,000 feet of a well to within 2,500 feet of a well, and from 6 months to 12 months of completion or alteration of the well;
    * Enhancement of well stimulation and completion reporting requirements;
    * Enhancement of inspection and notice of activity at well sites, to include inspection after erosion and sedimentation control measures are in place but before drilling has begun, and 24-hour notice to the state Department of Environmental Protection before several operational milestones, including hydraulic fracturing;
    * Establishment of an impact fee to compensate communities for local impacts, including emergency response preparation, public safety protection, water and sewer infrastructure extension, road and bridge improvements, and others;
    * Provision of additional job training assistance and certification opportunities for work in the industry.

The recommendations do not directly address local ordinances or pooling, although those issues are discussed within the report.

Several other from among the many recommendations include an assessment and expansion of rail and air transport capacity; establishment of a specialized team of emergency responders for immediate response at any location in the state; development of corridors for natural gas-fueled vehicles; and development of intrastate pipelines to encourage in-state use of gas from the Marcellus shale.

The report may be downloaded from the website of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

To see a copy of the report or for more information, visit: