On May 10, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) jointly released proposed amendments to the PA Oil and Gas Act, which the two groups say will "increase public confidence in the ability of Pennsylvania to "get it right" in regulating natural gas shale development, and in the industry to comply with environmental safeguards." The proposed amendments would restructure the framework of the Oil and Gas Act permitting process and split the process into two phases. Phase I would be an enhanced site assessment application process and Phase II would essentially be the current well development process taking into consideration the new information gathered as part of the expanded site assessment. On the operational side, among other things, the proposed amendments would require a dual liner system with leak detection monitoring systems for on-site impoundments and require monthly DEP inspections of those impoundments. The amendments also propose a host county inspector program, similar to that authorized by Act 101, in which host counties would receive funding to certify and train inspectors who would have access to the gas sites and authority to inspect well sites and review records. It is unclear whether the proposed amendments will gain any traction, but kudos to PEC and the CBF for providing a thoughtful and comprehensive set of proposed statutory changes for the General Assembly and the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission to consider.
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