Pennsylvania Act 13 rewrites much of the PA Oil and Gas Act of 1984. It is almost entirely addressed to natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale areas found within PA.
Among its provisions:
- Establish and/or strengthen environmental protections around well sites
- Require natural gas drilling companies to register the chemicals they use in their 'fracking' compounds with the state **
- Require those companies to pay mandatory drilling fees which will be distributed back to the counties and towns
Yay! All good, right?
Unfortunately, the Act also includes provisions such that:
- Local ordinances concerning drilling are pre-empted if they impose any restrictions stricter than those imposed by the state
So, if your town would simply prefer to not play, that is no longer your option.
The infrastructure involved with extracting and transporting natural gas - drilling stations, pipelines, and a variety of other industrial facilities including the whimsically named "pig launchers" - makes a big dent. It will substantially change the character of many of the rural areas where it is deployed.
Who gets to decide whether to invite the drilling companies in, or kindly inform them that they are not welcome?
As of April of this year, in Pennsylvania it will be the state government. If you don't like it, too bad for you.
An interesting blog by a local attorney
** physicians who suspect that their patients may be suffering from exposure to fracking chemicals can ask to see what chemicals are being used in their area, but they can't disclose that information to their patients, or anyone else for that matter.