Senator Baker’s Comments from the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) Public Hearing Strong Drilling Standards Absolutely Essential

Proposed upgrades to regulations governing gas drilling provide a crucial package of community protections, necessary no matter how the debates are concluded as to when and where Marcellus Shale drilling may take place. It is evident that a lot of thought and effort went into the development of the updated requirements.

This public hearing provides a crucial opportunity for public access, on a subject that has raised a host of questions and concerns across the region. It reflects the principle that state decisionmakers should go to the affected communities to listen and to learn.

We need best technology, best practices standards in place to prevent accidents and leaks, whether such problems are caused by insufficient safeguards or human error. Failure to take suitable precautions, when technology and testing are readily available, is unacceptable.

The matters addressed in the proposed changes to the regulations are fundamental to the integrity of the drilling process, and offer better assurances to local communities that prudent, responsible care is being taken.

The regulations will work in conjunction with legislation I am pushing requiring greater setbacks from sources of drinking water and additional testing to ensure water quality is not in jeopardy.

The recent well blowout in Clearfield County resulted from a company recklessly cutting corners on the use of protective technology. That underscores the significance of clear regulatory requirements. When it comes to what safety, science, and common sense dictate, there should be no dispute, no discretion, and no deviation. Neither public nor private water sources should be treated as expendable.

It is important for the public to have a say in these regulations. It is also important to have sound regulations in place as soon as possible. Then it becomes a matter of overseeing company compliance and carrying out tight state enforcement.


**Other interested persons may also submit written comments on this proposal. All comments must be received by the EQB on or before August 9, 2010. Comments should be addressed to the Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477. Comments may also be e-mailed to

Contact: Jennifer Wilson
(570) 675-3931

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