Bill introduced to ease burden on small drillers

A group of Pennsylvania Republican legislators plan to introduce a bill in upcoming weeks that will establish separate regulations for conventional and unconventional drilling operations in the Marcellus Shale.

Under the proposed legislation, which will be introduced by state Reps. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint), Kathy Rapp (R-Warren) and Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk), the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board would separate drilling and operation standards for different oil and gas operations.

"Conventional drilling is, without question, far different than drilling in the Marcellus Shale, and it simply makes no sense to apply the same standards to these operations," Causer said. "Regulations being proposed because of Marcellus drilling could easily put the state's smaller producers out of business, and that would be devastating to our rural areas where these businesses provide good, family-sustaining jobs."

Gabler said the bill is an effort to hold conventional and unconventional drillers accountable while avoiding burdening smaller drillers with regulatory requirements that may hurt their operations, a concern voiced by industry participants at an event organized last year by the Pennsylvania Independent Petroleum Producers.

"The bureaucrats who write these regulations have demonstrated a serious lack of understanding about how shallow well drilling differs from drilling in the Marcellus, and that could have dire consequences for our local producers and the thousands of people they employ," Rapp said. "Requiring separate regulations is a necessary step to ensure the future of the conventional oil and gas industries."

Once introduced, the bill will likely be referred to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.