Pennsylvania to Host Online Sessions on New Marcellus Shale Law

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, March 20, 2012 (ENS) – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will host online information sessions on implementing Act 13, which Governor Tom Corbett signed into law in February to further protect the environment and place more stringent regulations on the natural gas drilling industry.

“Act 13 reaffirms our strong commitment to safe, responsible, environmentally sensitive and transparent natural gas development here in Pennsylvania,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “Our intent with these sessions is to explain the law and answer whatever questions people may have.”

Act 13’s environmental provisions for unconventional gas operations, which take effect April 16, include increased setbacks from buildings and waterways; limited development in floodplains; and increased time and distance provisions in which gas drillers are presumed liable for water contamination until evidence proves otherwise, among other things.

Operators must also register their hydraulic fracturing fluid ingredients with FracFocus.org, a website created by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission to make such information accessible to the public.

Clean Water Action, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, PennEnvironment, and Sierra Club call this law, “a significant step in the wrong direction that leaves our communities, our health, and our environment at continued risk.”

The environmental groups say the law “tramples on municipal rights by requiring communities to allow all gas drilling activities near schools, day care centers, hospitals, and homes.”

“The legislation overturns existing local zoning ordinances that protect residents from gas development,” the groups warn, saying, “The environmental provisions in the bill are inadequate to protect our familes and our drinking water, including set backs that allow gas drilling to occur as close as 500 feet from our schools and homes.”

The Department of Environmental Protection will offer four one-hour sessions, starting with a general overview of Act 13 on March 27; details on permitting and notifications on April 3; information about environmental protection and enhancement on April 10; and a session on inspections and enforcement on April 17.

The sessions, which will begin at 1 pm EDT, will be presented live through Cisco WebEx software. There is a maximum of 500 attendees to each session due to technological limitations.

For more information and to register for the sessions, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click the “Act 13” button on the homepage. DEP will post recordings of the presentations on its website.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.