Landowner Protections in Gas Well Development
Farm Bureau supports responsible efforts for commercial development of infrastructure to tap the vast resources of gas deposits recently discovered below the surface of Pennsylvania regions. Landowners and local communities can significantly benefit from the regional development of the gas industry. But the great depth at which wells must be drilled and the intensity of activity that must be performed and local resources that must be committed in order to tap these deposits gives landowners a high degree of concern over the impact that gas well development will have to local water supplies and to the public infrastructure and quality of life of local communities. Landowners are also concerned with industry’s commitment in responding in a timely and effective manner when problems arise.
Relative to these concerns, it is questionable whether the Oil and Gas Act currently provides the degree of protection and response that landowners and communities reasonably expect. This Act was enacted during a time when few predicted the type and magnitude of gas development as being done in the Marcellus shale region. To address landowners’ legitimate concerns, the landowner protections to be provided under Act need to be brought up to date, to respond to the higher risks of potential harm associated with today’s drilling and extraction activities.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau urges support for passage of legislative amendments to the Oil and Gas Act to:
• Significantly increase the minimum level of bonding that gas well operators must obtain in order to be authorized to drill and operate wells.
• Establish effective requirements for baseline and post well completion testing of surface water and groundwater supplies near well sites.
• Establish clearer and more effective standards for construction and location of roads and supporting infrastructure to minimize adverse impacts to surface lands.
• Establish requirements for minimum setbacks of wells from neighboring properties.
• Establish and standardize requirements for installation and operation of meters on all gas wells and for landowners to access and obtain data and information directly from installed meters.
• Increase the zone in which gas operators are presumed to have caused damage to water supplies from well drilling and operation, and provide a timely and effective process for landowners to identify and obtain relief from damages that occur.