With public hearings at the municipal, county, state and federal levels, the question is who should play a role in regulating drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation?
Senator Bob Casey says the federal government needs to play a role in regulating natural gas drilling.
Casey has pushed for federal standards requiring drilling companies to disclose the chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluid.
Casey has introduced a bill setting strict guidelines for how drillers respond to fires and other emergencies at wells.
The Democrat says Congress needs to play a larger role regulating natural gas drilling.
"Some states will do a good job on issues like this. Some states won’t. I think safety and protecting health and safety should be the subject of national standards. If a state wants to do more, they can. There should be a minimal level of protection."
The lawmaker says he’s “very concerned” by recent mishaps at Allegheny and Clearfield County wells. The Clearfield County incident in June involved a blowout of a Marcellus Shale gas well. No one was injured but natural gas and frack water spewed from the well for 16 hours before it was capped.
The accident in Indiana Township, Allegheny County July 23 was at shallow gas well, not a Marcellus Shale well. 2 workers doing maintenance on an oil storage tank were killed in the blast and fire.
Senator Casey is hesitant to back a full moratorium on drilling, saying he needs to take a closer look at the details and implications of a halt on the practice.
But he’s urging environmental regulators to slow down permitting and drilling, so lawmakers and officials can make sure the right environmental and safety standards are in place.