Legislature should revisit Marcellus drilling now

An editorial from the Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — For all their scientific bent, a series of legislative studies on horizontal gas well drilling are short of useful data.

Couple that with the state Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) reluctance to recommend any action, and we haven’t even begun tapping into how best to regulate this industry.

Oh, there are regulations out there as a result of “modified” legislation that became law more than two years ago.

However, this legislation’s shortcomings were apparent from the start. Many, including our newspaper, referred to it then as a work in progress.

However, these studies’ shortcomings, the tabling of any proposed amendments and the DEP’s inaction have kept this issue on the shelf.

Ask what’s next and many lawmakers, researchers and the DEP tell us further study. Further study on:

-The safe disposal of radioactive gas well drill cuttings.

-Measuring noise, dust, light and volatile organic compounds emanating from these well pads.

-A workable and fair setback rule for surface owners.

But as most of these studies almost predictably conclude: “As evident by the many … studies under way, these initiatives will result in more complete information over time. Once available, this data will help advance and guide future rule development.”

Or, as some researchers noted about their own studies’ limits, “A health effects-based setback distance proposal might require a study with a lengthy (three years or more) sampling effort” at more sites with more detailed analysis.

Anyone see a pattern here?…

Click here for the Dominion Post e-edition

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