Rep. George: HB 2556 Would Require Pre-drill Water Tests for Gas Wells
HARRISBURG – State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Clearfield County, today unveiled House Bill 2556, which would require pre-drilling water quality surveys upon request by landowners residing within 5,500 feet of a proposed Marcellus shale gas well.
“This legislation is needed to protect our water supplies and would be a win-win for everyone,” said George, Democratic chair of the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee.
“House Bill 2556 allows for landowners whose water has been polluted by gas drilling to be compensated, and it protects gas companies from frivolous lawsuits for conditions for which a gas company is not at fault.”
Under HB 2556, permit applicants would contract with certified laboratories to provide landowners the test results for chemicals commonly used in hydraulic fracturing, the process that fractures rocks by injecting chemicals, liquids and other materials at high pressure to allow natural gas to flow into a well shaft.
Besides data on chemicals ranging from arsenic to xylenes, the test results also would cover information on dissolved solids and methane, salt compounds, nutrients and radionuclides.
“Pennsylvania has inadequate safeguards for water — including minimal standards for water-well construction and the scant protections in the Act 13 Marcellus shale legislation,” George said. “My measure would be one more step needed to address the mounting threats to water.”
Under Act 13, a driller is presumed liable for polluting a water supply located within 2,500 feet of an unconventional well bore, a protection George believes is wholly inadequate given Pennsylvania’s unique geology.
“It’s past time to address all the ill will and litigation spawned by Marcellus shale gas drilling,” George said. “House Bill 2556 would serve landowners, water supplies and industrial gas drillers.”
George, who also recently introduced HB 2350 to provide a two-year moratorium on the drilling of new deep injection wells used to dispose of waste fracking fluids, said his pre-drilling survey measure has drawn bipartisan support and has been referred to the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee.
“I hope that this new legislation is put on the fast track for consideration,” George said. “Our water is too valuable to lose by reacting only after learning from our mistakes.”
George’s pre-drilling survey language was approved by the House during deliberations of the Marcellus shale bill that became Act 13. However, the language was removed from a later version of the bill.