Controversial issues continue to fire up over Marcellus shale natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. The latest is an 88-page report by the newly formed Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission.
Last week, the group made up of environmental and labor groups including the Sierra Club of Pennsylvania, Penn Environment, Keystone Progress, Clean Water Action and the League of Women Voters released a list of recommendations for regulating Marcellus shale gas drilling in the state. The Citizens Commission was formed in response to a commission created earlier this year by Governor Tom Corbett.
In September, the Citizens Commission held public hearings across the state and voted on a list of recommendations for a final report. Many of them would affect landowners and nearby residents. Among the report's recommendations:
Increase drilling regulations and spend more money enforcing those regulations.
Expand setback requirements regarding how close wells can be drilled near waterways, schools, etc.
Prohibit open waste water and solid waste impoundments, and require closed-loop water and waste systems.
Require drilling companies to test, at their expense, all individual water supplies for chemicals and minerals typical of drilling operations within 3,000 feet of any proposed natural gas well.
Deny gas pipeline companies use of eminent domain.
Protect environmentally sensitive areas by banning drilling in those areas.
Complete a study of the cumulative impact of gas drilling in the Marcellus shale formation on water, air and human health.
Force drillers to stop using toxic fracking chemicals, and use water and sand only.
Institute a new tax on drillers.
The report stopped short of demanding a complete ban or a moratorium on drilling in the state. Because it didn't make such a demand, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, an initial commission sponsor, pulled out before the final report was issued.
Governor Corbett's energy executive, Patrick Henderson, said the administration will review the report, and see if any of its recommendations should be included in futre Marcellus shale legislation.
View or download the report from pennbpc.org/sites/pennbpc.org/files/CMSC-Final-Report.pdf