DEP Meets With 90 Companies Involved In Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Development
The Department of Environmental Protection this week met with 90 companies involved in Marcellus Shale natural gas development and told them they must follow proper well construction procedures to prevent gas migration problems that endanger public health and safety and threaten residential water supplies to avoid the problems occurring in Dimock, Susquehanna County.
Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger and staff from DEP’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Management met with industry officials to review state regulations governing the proper construction of deep, high-pressure natural gas wells.
“As we have seen in Dimock, stray gas migrating from improperly constructed wells can build up to explosive levels near and inside homes and can make residential water supplies unusable,” Secretary Hanger said. “The drilling industry is ultimately responsible for ensuring their wells are properly constructed and must use the best casing and cementing practices to prevent problems. We will hold drillers in Pennsylvania accountable for problems caused by drilling.”
In addition, the Secretary also stressed the need for companies to respond promptly to complaints of gas migration from natural gas wells and to immediately notify the department and local emergency responders to ensure that lives and property are protected.
“The marcellus gas industry in Pennsylvania can and must be the very best in the world. Strong rules and enforcement combined with companies dedicated to production, environmental and safety excellence is the way to become world class,” Secretary Hanger added.
DEP staff and drilling operators discussed the status of ongoing gas migration investigations at drilling sites and reviewed proposed regulations that strengthen well construction standards and establish procedures for reporting gas migration problems. Those regulations will be presented to the Environmental Quality Board for consideration on May 17.
Marcellus Shale Coalition president and executive director Kathryn Klaber said after the meeting, “The Marcellus Shale Coalition remains fully committed to continuing its efforts to work closely and collaboratively with regulators at all levels of government to ensure that the promise and potential of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania is realized in a safe and responsible way. Today’s meeting with DEP represents yet another honest and straightforward discussion about the best practices needed to fully achieve this vision. Positive progress on practices relating to the management of historic and naturally occurring shallow gas, as well as other initiatives related to transparency and well integrity, will help our industry continue to strengthen its safety and environmental record while continuing to create tens of thousands of jobs each year for residents of this state.”
Klaber said Secretary Hanger expressed his appreciation at the industry’s technical assistance in updating Pennsylvania’s rules. The MSC also endorsed the creation of a Gas Management Task Force, which will work alongside DEP and other professional experts to provide technical expertise related to Marcellus shale gas production across the state.
“Working to make certain that clean-burning shale gas production throughout the Commonwealth continues to be done effectively, prudently and in a way that continues to create thousands of good-paying jobs and economic activity is an aspiration shared by everyone who attended this meeting today," said Klaber. "The opportunity to discuss reasonable ways to continue to achieve these shared goals demonstrates our commitment to being good neighbors, partners and stewards of the Commonwealth’s environment and its job-creating resources.”
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