The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is proposing significant overhauls to the laws governing Marcellus Shale development in the state, including increased protection for water supplies and stricter permitting and operating requirements.
DEP Secretary Michael Krancer recommended changes to the Oil and Gas Act in a May 27 letter to Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, chairman of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission (MSAC), the body Gov. Tom Corbett assembled to report on how to develop the play from both an economic and environmental standpoint (see Shale Daily, April 11; March 29).
The majority of the changes involve measures designed to protect water resources. One proposal would require companies to draft manifests to track hydraulic fracturing wastewater from "cradle to grave" at wells that produce more than 80,000 gallons.
Another proposed change would increase the parameters where an operator is held liable when the cause of a contamination event is uncertain. The current "presumptive liability" is 1,000 feet from a well within six months of drilling, but the DEP would like to increase that to 2,500 feet and one year. The changes would also add well stimulation to the list of activities that could cause an event.
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