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Let’s Polka! PA House Resolution Reaffirms State’s Ability to Regulate Shale Gas

January 27, 2010
Jeff Eshelman; jeff@energyindepth.org; (202) 857-4774 *** Chris Tucker; chris@energyindepth.org; (202) 346-8825

Democrats and Republicans from western PA confirm, applaud state’s stringent regulatory standards

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Federal legislation that seeks to destroy the current state-federal regulatory partnership on hydraulic fracturing in favor of an EPA-directed regime would “substantially increase” the cost of clean-burning natural gas “with no resulting environmental benefits.” That’s the message state Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver) is taking to his colleagues in Harrisburg today – introducing a new resolution reaffirming the ability of state-based regulators to properly regulate and oversee a process that’s central to Marcellus Shale exploration in the state.

“Hydraulic fracturing is absolutely essential to produce natural gas from the Marcellus Shale and other gas shales that promise to hold more than a 100-year supply of natural gas for our nation,” said Rep. Christiana, a member of the House committee on environmental resources and energy. “Pennsylvania’s oil and gas regulatory program is among the most stringent in the United States and places great emphasis on protecting groundwater supplies. I believe that additional and costly Federal oversight is unnecessary and cost-prohibitive.”

The resolution introduced today by Rep. Christiana, who represents several communities in western Pennsylvania, is consistent with remarks offered by U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) during a hearing last week of a key Energy & Commerce subcommittee. Just as Rep. Christiana did today, Congressman Doyle took the time to remind his colleagues then that “in Pennsylvania, we have rules in place to protect our underground sources of drinking water” – and that “Pennsylvania law requires drillers to case in grout wells through all freshwater aquifers before drilling … to protect ground water from pollutants inside wells.”

Congressman Doyle also remarked during the Jan. 20 hearing that Pittsburgh may “have been known as a steel city, but pretty soon we may be known as the Saudi Arabia of natural gas with the Marcellus shale sitting underneath western Pennsylvania.” In highlighting the economic benefits for the commonwealth, Rep. Doyle added that “last year alone, Pennsylvania could attribute nearly 50,000 jobs to environmentally safe natural gas production.”

Louis D. D’Amico, executive director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of Pennsylvania, and someone with nearly 40 years of experience in the energy sector, called Rep. Christiana’s resolution “a potential breakthrough” in the debate over shale gas exploration in Harrisburg, and applauded the lawmaker for his “willingness to educate his colleagues on the real-world facts related to the safe and decades-old application of fracturing technology, and confront the many misconceptions that persist.”

With the introduction of the Christiana resolution today, Pennsylvania joins at least 11 other states, several federal agencies, and countless local communities in either taking up or formally adopting robust declarations in support of the economic potential of American shale gas – as well as for the key technologies needed to produce it.

Now a full two years into the development of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, the safe and responsible use of hydraulic fracturing, as well as other critical technologies, has already helped the state create more than 48,000 new jobs, according to Penn State University – and generate a staggering $3.8 billion in economic development.

NOTE: A copy of the PA House resolution, as introduced, can be accessed HERE.

Additional resources available at Energy In Depth.

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There are 194,500 acres represented in the Coalition as of 8/18/2010. The latest gas offers in New York State are $3000/acre with 20% royalties.

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