Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission Releases 96 Recommendations to Governor Corbett

Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission Releases 96 Recommendations to Governor Corbett

Source: Cozen O’Connor’s Energy, Environmental and Utilities Group “News Concerning Recent Developments in Energy and Environmental Law” Newsletter, August 16, 2011

On March 8, 2011, Governor Corbett created the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission (the commission). Comprising 30 stakeholders including experts from the environmental community, the natural gas industry, local government representatives, and state government officials; the commission was tasked with developing a “comprehensive strategic proposal for the responsible and environmentally sound development of Marcellus Shale.” After months of public meetings and input from varied stakeholders, the commission released its final 96 recommendations, embodied in a report to Governor Corbett, on July 22, 2011. Although the recommendations do not carry the weight of law, they are expected to frame the debate on natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale when the Pennsylvania Legislature returns from recess in September.

The report included recommendations such as:

  1. Introducing a local impact fee to support communities affected by natural gas production.
  2. Subjecting gas reservoirs to “pooling.”
  3. Developing infrastructure projects that will encourage increased use of natural gas.
  4. Adding natural gas to Pennsylvania’s portfolio of required alternative power sources.
  5. Conducting a public health study on drilling communities to track the health of people residing
    within one mile of gas wells.
  6. Increasing the required distance between drilling sites and public water sources.
  7. Doubling the fines for drillers who violate environmental regulations.
  8. Increasing transparency by requiring operators to post materials such as work projects and violations on the Internet.
  9. Creating downstream jobs that take advantage of the abundant upstream natural gas resources and training Pennsylvanians to fill those jobs.
  10. Encouraging the use of non-freshwater sources, such as acid mine drainage water from abandoned  mine pools, to be used in place of freshwater sources in hydraulic fracturing operations.

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