U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) told a field hearing audience in Pittsburgh Monday that he plans to introduce legislation intended to improve emergency response services at oil and gas wells.

The Faster Action Safety Team Emergency Response (FASTER) Act of 2010 would provide the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with the ability to draft regulations to enhance emergency response procedures at oil and gas wells.

Casey on Monday chaired the field hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee titled “Emergency Response in the Marcellus Shale Region” where there was testimony on current emergency response procedures and whether more regulation is necessary.

“Because of the recent incidents at several gas well sites [in Pennsylvania (see Daily GPI, July 26)], I have called this hearing to investigate the current emergency response procedures and determine where we need improvement,” Casey said. “We are currently recovering from an economic recession and the Marcellus Shale provides an excellent opportunity for job growth and economic prosperity in the region.

“With that said, we must ensure that we do not waste this resource by endangering workers and our environment. I firmly believe we can extract the natural gas in a safe manner that does not harm our workers or our environment.”

Casey’s legislation would cause OSHA to require operators to:

OSHA would have 18 months to finalize the regulations under the act, which would give OSHA the authority to define “emergency situation.”

Casey has also introduced the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act (S.1215) to require the disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing processes. Casey is pushing to include these provisions in energy legislation the Senate is slated to consider.

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