Pennsylvania moves to strengthen some oil and gas drilling rules

Water from Smitsky family in Hickory Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has become a poster child of water contamination. The State, however, now seems to be responding to some of the travesties within its borders. Governor Edward Rendell recently announced two initiatives: (1) he is directing the Department of Environmental Protection to hire 68 new employees dedicated to enforcement of state laws; and (b) he is proposing new state rules to strengthen the standards for well construction.

I was surprised to read the Governor’s statement that the proposed new regulations were developed with input from industry experts--because as far as I know there was no input from environmental experts or the public. In addition, while well construction standards must be strengthened, there are many other issues that are ripe for updated rules. Nevertheless, stronger rules are very welcome and I hope the process will have more public input to ensure these rules are truly protective. The draft rules are available on line, along with directions on how to submit comments, which are due by March 2.

In other Pennsylvania news, a recent news article details recent spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids and industrial waste. And  below I have posted an image of recent drinking water contamination in Hickory, Pennsylvania. State officials said this water is safe to drink. This family is surrounded by seven natural gas wells on neighboring properties. Thanks to Darrell Smitsky and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability for the photo and video - more information is available on YouTube: