Impact Fees Differ On Buffer Zones
HARRISBURG – Establishing buffer zones to protect water sources from gas drilling remains a live issue as an effort begins to reconcile differences between two comprehensive Marcellus impact fee bills approved by the House and Senate.
Gov. Tom Corbett has expressed hope that a joint bill approved by both Republican-controlled chambers will reach his desk before year’s end. Protecting water sources from contamination by drilling wastewater or methane gas emerged as one of the earliest environmental issues after the Marcellus drilling boom got underway in 2007. The contamination of water wells with methane in Dimock Township after drilling nearby focused attention on the problem.
The Senate-passed measure would: increase the setback distance from a Marcellus well and existing water well from 200 to 500 feet; increase the setback between a well and spring or body of water identified on a topographic map from 100 feet to 300 feet; and restricts a well from being located within 1,000 feet of a public water supply. These setbacks are in line with recommendations by the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission. The House-passed measure would keep a gas well 300 feet away from any stream, spring or body of water and 1,000 feet from private wells and public water supplies.