PEC today released the following statement on the pending HB1950 Conference Committee Report:
The enemy of the good is the perfect, and while this legislation is not perfect, the people of Pennsylvania are better served by passage of this bill now than to wait another year or longer for something stronger.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) has worked hard over the past two years to identify the critical policy issues for effectively regulating development of the Marcellus Shale gas industry. PEC has released a series of reports and legislative proposals, containing more than 40 specific policy recommendations, several of which are now law. We are pleased that many of the environmental protection measures contained in this bill match those recommended by PEC, and represent a meaningful step forward: including greater well site setback and containment standards, enhanced inspection and reporting requirements, and greater protection for water resources and drinking water supplies.
However, this legislation comes up short on several key issues, including complete enhanced public disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids, as well as automatic reporting to the Department of Environmental Protection on wastewater handling and disposal.
Additionally, PEC remains concerned with the limitations this bill imposes on the rights of local governments in managing drilling activities in their own jurisdictions. We believe that local government should retain a degree of authority to enact additional controls when specific, local circumstances warrant.
This legislation would take an important first step toward ensuring safe development of natural gas in Pennsylvania by incorporating many of the recommendations of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission. But this is only the first step; much more work remains to be done to ensure that the growth of this industry is truly an asset for all of Pennsylvania’s citizens and our environment.
We look forward to working with the General Assembly and the administration, particularly DEP, in advancing implementation of other PEC recommendations through the legislative and regulatory process.
PEC will post a detailed analysis of the legislation soon.