Monday, Feb 27, 2017
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PA Senate Approves Amendment Affecting Fracking Industry

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The Pennsylvania Senate recently voted to approve an amendment that would restrict state regulators from implementing some of the regulations set forth in the Marcellus Shale industry known as Chapter 78a, reported StateImpact.

In June 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill scrapping conventional drilling guidelines set forth in another pending drilling regulation-Chapter 78. The fate of Chapter 78a currently rests with the Attorney General’s office.

The amendment would bar the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from requiring drillers to submit waste reports more than the current twice a year standard.  The DEP requested monthly waste reports after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette uncovered large discrepancies between what drillers and landfills reported.

DEP will also be barred from setting standards for freshwater storage impoundments related to oil and gas development that are more stringent than those required for other industries and activities.

Under the new amendment, drillers would be given two years before they are required to begin restoration of a drill site.  Currently, drillers must begin the process within nine months.

“These changes do not affect the environment at all,” Reschenthaler told StateImpact Pennsylvania, “They just make sure we don’t have red tape and burdensome regulations on the industry.”

However, a spokesperson for Governor Tom Wolf told StateImpact that the governor will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

DEP began updating its oil and gas rules in 2011 and completely overhauled its oil and gas law in 2012 in response to technologic advance that started the Marcellus Shale fracking boom, StateImpact reported.

The Marcellus Shale Formation is the largest course of domestic natural gas to be discovered in the United States, according to the Marcellus Shale Information Site.   The gas is removed via a well through the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which a stream of high pressure water mixed with sand and chemicals brew to break up the shale and channel the gas to wells, explains Frackcident.  The process takes place between 5,000 and 8,000 feet underground.

Fracking is a controversial topic not just in Pennsylvania-but across the United States.  Drilling for natural gas on American soil can reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil. However, but many residents of fracking towns are concerned about the environmental impacting of fracking including land damage and water contamination caused by fracking accidents.

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