Pennsylvania Governor Corbett announced his Marcellus Shale proposal which he believes will “make sure that Pennsylvania’s economy benefits from developing this new source of wealth and energy independence, while also ensuring that the environment and natural beauty of this state are protected.” The plan incorporates recommendations of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission. As stated in the PaDEP press release, proposed standards include:

  • Increasing the well setback distance from private water wells from 200 to 500 feet, and to 1,000 feet from public water systems;
  • Increasing the setback distance for wells near streams, rivers, ponds and other bodies of water from 100 to 300 feet;
  • Increasing well bonding from $2,000 up to $10,000;
  • Increasing blanket well bonds from $25,000 up to $250,000;
  • Expanding an unconventional gas operator’s “presumed liability” for impairing water quality from 1,000 feet to 2,500 feet from a gas well, and extending the duration of presumed liability from 6 months after well completion to 12 months;
  • Enabling DEP to take quicker action to revoke or withhold permits for operators who consistently violate rules;
  • Doubling penalties for civil violations from $25,000 to $50,000; and
  • Doubling daily penalties from $1,000 a day to $2,000 a day.

An “impact fee” will also be added, and it will be “used by local governments, counties and state agencies that respond to issues that arise as a result of Marcellus Shale gas drilling.” The impact fee could be up to $40,000 in year one, $30,000 in year two, $20,000 in year three and $10,000 for years four through