The numerous Marcellus Shale gas wells located across Pennsylvania might be providing a much-needed shot in the arm to the state economy, creating over 45,000 jobs, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, but many environmentalist groups and residents are concerned about the effects the process being used has on the ecosystem and water quality of the state. With the Susquehanna River recently being ranked as the most endangered river in the United States, even Gov. Tom Corbett's administration is calling for tougher laws and regulations on the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas, reports the Associated Press.
The secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection, Michael Krancer, recently made a series of recommendations to the governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission. According to AP, those recommendations include restricting gas well drilling within 1,000 feet of any public water supply. Also included in that report is a need to clarify the DEP's authority to revoke or issue well drilling permits and the boosting of penalties per-day for any violations.
Four environmental groups, also represented on the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, agree that better planning and stricter regulations are in order for companies fracking for gas in Pennsylvania, according to the Patriot-News. These groups want to make a request by the DEP for any drilling wastewater not to be taken to treatment plants where it will be released into rivers to be turned into an enforceable law. Some of the groups also support a tax or fee on shale gas, with some of the money collected being directed to green initiatives. The groups also support a provision that would allow the state to collect complete information about the chemicals being injected into the ground to extract the gas.
A number of different drilling regulations and proposals have been brought forth in Pennsylvania's government since last year. Many of those propositions and recommendations have seen little action by state lawmakers. The government wants to strike a balance and partnership with the drilling companies in order for them to continue to do business in the state. However, the after-effects of the fracking process may come at an uncomfortable environmental price for residents. Whether or not any legislation will be complete soon is anyone's guess, but the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission is due to deliver its complete report in July of this year.