For immediate release:                                                     

April 25, 2013                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

Stronger rules, new commitment to enforcement will restore public confidence

 

Harrisburg – John Hanger, Democratic candidate for governor today announced a comprehensive plan to restore public confidence that state government can ensure the safe extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation.

“The world-class drilling plan that I unveil today will fairly tax the extraction of natural gas, protect state parks and forests from drilling, cut air emissions from drilling by 90 percent, prevent drilling wastewater from polluting rivers and streams, increase enforcement and compliance with our rules and ensure that drilling companies fully compensate citizens for any damage done by drilling,” said Hanger. “The Commonwealth’s citizens and its natural resources demand the best regulations and the best performance from the gas drilling industry, and they are right to do so.”

“The public has rightly lost confidence in the willingness of the Corbett administration to adequately regulate gas drilling,” he continued. “The governor has created this crisis in public confidence by opposing a drilling tax, by combatively reacting to legitimate public questions and concerns about drilling, and by reducing enforcement of Pennsylvania’s gas regulations.  Violations issued to the gas industry have declined by 50% since 2010.”

During John’s tenure as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), he was America’s toughest gas drilling regulator pushing through five tough, new regulations to protect water and public safety. He more than doubled the number gas drilling oversight staff, opened 2 new gas drilling offices, and provided new equipment to the regulatory staff. During 2010 DEP issued 1200 notices of violations to drillers, required drillers to pay for cleaning up their accidents and imposed hefty fines. In the worst cases, he shut down drillers and won a $4.1 million settlement for the 18 families in Dimock whose water wells were contaminated by drilling. Hanger also worked with DCNR Secretary John Quigley to write a moratorium on further leasing of state forestland for gas drilling that Governor Rendell issued as an executive order in 2010.

“My record made me the toughest regulator of gas drilling in America,” said Hanger.”I learned a lot about how the drillers operate and understand industry best practices. We need to turn our experience into the development of world-class drilling regulations and insist that drillers that operate here meet the highest performance standards.”

Hanger said that to protect the environment and public health as the multi-national oil and gas companies develop our Marcellus shale resource he will:

 

·      Enact a reasonable severance tax on natural gas extraction similar to West Virginia’s;

·      Increase gas drilling oversight staff by 50 percent;

·      Raise the permit application fee and enact an annual fee for companies that operate wells in the Marcellus shale;

·      Ensure inspectors issue notices of violation without prior approval from Harrisburg;

·      Ensure local governments may responsibly use zoning powers to site gas drilling within their communities;

·      Ban the dumping of any gas well wastewater that is not fully treated into open wastewater pits;

·      Ban the dumping of any gas well wastewater that is not treated to Safe Drinking Water Standards into rivers and streams – from both Marcellus shale and conventional wells;

·      Continue the moratorium on leasing more state forestland for gas drilling;

·      Enact a separate $3 million impact fee for gas wells drilled on state forestland or state parks to discourage drilling on our public lands and impose strict environmental restrictions to prevent gas drilling in state parks;

·      Ban drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest where the Commonwealth controls the rights to access mineral rights from the surface;

·      Enact requirements for green completions during well completions;

·      Insure that the best available technology is deployed on compressor engines to cut air emissions by 90% or more;

·      Require world class maintenance and inspection of gas drilling equipment to prevent and identify methane leakage and gas leaks;

·      Sharply limit flaring of natural gas at wells;

·      Modernize and strengthen rules designed to prevent methane migration;

·      Create a transparent, easy-to-use DEP website that discloses the chemicals used at gas well operations;

·      Repeal the gag rule that prohibits physicians from sharing medical information about patients who are exposed to gas drilling chemicals;

·      Require gas drillers to pay twice the property value if they contaminate a landowner’s private water well.

“I will also create an ombudsman office that will be charged with investigating every complaint from landowners and other community members about problems with drilling operations,” said Hanger. “I will ensure that the complaints are taken seriously and are respectfully reviewed.”

“I know gas drillers can do better, and I know most want to do better. Pennsylvania deserves world-class regulations that demand world-class performance from the gas drillers,” he concluded.”

 

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For more information, kathleen@hangerforgovernor.com, 717-693-8200

 

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