Just hours before the Department of Environmental Protection is to release the findings of an investigation into the blowout of Marcellus Shale gas well in Clearfield County, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) today unveiled a report calling for swift action on new regulations and greater oversight of drilling and extraction of natural gas from the shale formation.
The report, “Developing the Marcellus Shale,” includes recommendations for legislative and regulatory changes that the PEC believes should be made to minimize the risk of accidents, environmental damage, and public health hazards stemming from drilling operations.
The reports calls for the creation of a Marcellus Shale Development Task Force, that would identify best practices in the industry and apply them to Marcellus Shale gas operations in Pennsylvania.
The Council wants the legislature to require that any severance tax revenues be specifically directed to the management of this industry, its environmental impacts and its regulatory enforcement.
“The Marcellus Shale is a once-in-a-generation energy and economic opportunity for Pennsylvania,” said PEC president Don Welsh. “We have a deep historical, political and fiduciary responsibility to get this right for the citizens of this Commonwealth as well as future generations who will inherit the environment currently entrusted to us.”
Governor Rendell and legislative leaders have agreed there will be a vote on a severance tax by October 1. There are disagreements over the rate of the tax and the split of the revenues among the state, local municipalities and environmental stewardship programs.
There are about 1,500 Marcellus Shale gas wells in Pennsylvania currently and industry officials predict an additional 35,000 to 50,000 by 2030.