HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett has called upon Pennsylvania’s oil and gas operators to help protect the commonwealth’s rivers, streams and wetlands from impacts during oil and gas development by adhering to critical environmental standards recently struck down by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court’s recent ruling on Act 13 of 2012 set aside important buffer restrictions between drilling activity and our waterways and wetlands,” Corbett said. “In doing so, the court overturned protections which I signed into law and which received strong, bipartisan support in the General Assembly. This action, which could imperil our water quality, is simply unacceptable.”
The setback provisions struck down by the court had required a minimum of 300 feet between an unconventional oil or gas well bore and a stream, spring, body of water or wetland. The minimum distance for conventional oil and gas wells between a well bore and a stream, spring, body of water or wetland was established at 100 feet. Distance provisions could only be waived by the state Department of Environmental Protection upon satisfactory demonstration of additional protective measures taken by an operator to ensure that water quality was fully protected.
“I am calling upon Pennsylvania’s oil and gas operators to honor both the spirit and intent of these setback provisions to continue helping us protect Pennsylvania’s water and natural resources,” Corbett said. “Many of the enhanced environmental standards contained in Act 13 – including the setback distances – were put forth by oil and gas operators, environmental advocacy organizations, local government associations and others who served on my Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, and in close consultation with the General Assembly. This collaborative effort has helped Pennsylvania expand its world class energy industry in a safe and responsible way.”
As part of today’s call to action, Corbett has reached out directly to the leadership of Pennsylvania’s key oil and natural gas trade associations, including the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Associated Petroleum Industries of PA and the PA Independent Oil and Gas Association. Each of the organizations indicated to the governor their intent to comply with the governor’s request. Corbett also reiterated that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will continue its aggressive implementation of the Oil and Gas Act and other environmental statutes which protect the commonwealth’s environment.