Monday, June 7, 2010

Gas Well Incident Shows Need For Better Oversight

The chairman of the Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee says the Marcellus Shale well blowout in Clearfield County last week should prompt lawmakers to pass his legislation to improve environmental safeguards.
Democratic legislator Camille "Bud" George represents the area where the blowout occurred Thursday at 8 p.m. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials say EOG Resources crews were preparing to extract gas after hydrofracturing the shale but lost control and the well released gas and flowback frack fluid onto the ground and 75 feet into the air. Crews did not get the well capped till 16 hours later.
Representative George says his legislation require the DEP to inspect Marcellus well sites during crucial drilling phases; bolster the DEP's authority to deny permits; increase civil penalties for violations; and, require disclosure of the precise chemical concentrations in the fracking fluids...
"Without knowing the exact chemical composition of the fracking fluid, emergency responders can only speculate as to the toxicity of the solution. I asked them (drilling companies) what was in the fracking fluid, they told me it was a trade secret."

George says he hopes this incident will lead to passage of his bill to impose a severance tax on the Marcellus Shale gas with the revenues split.
● 60 percent to the General Fund;
● 15 percent to the Environmental Stewardship Fund;
● 5 percent to the Liquid Fuels Tax Fund;
● 4 percent to the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund;
● 3 percent for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP;
● 4.5 percent to municipalities where natural gas is extracted;
● 4.5 percent to counties where natural gas is extracted;
● 2 percent each to the state Game and Fish and Boat commissions.

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