Natural gas in Marcellus shale

PCN Call-In Program :: Natural Gas Drilling

April 20, 2015 :: PennFuture Policy Director Matt Stepp and Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Spigelmyer discuss the effects of natural gas drilling on the environment and the economy. [archived recording available for a limited time]

Natural gas has potential environmental and public health benefits.

But drilling for gas deep in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations is an intensely industrial, inherently hazardous activity that threatens water, air and land resources and public safety if proper regulations, with vigilant oversight, aren't in place.

Pennsylvania should pursue world-class standards, should enact a reasonable drilling tax, and should protect its population. Instead, in February of 2012, House Bill 1950 was signed into law, as Act 13, by Gov. Corbett.

Some good news

On December 19, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that the zoning rules and waivers for requirements for setbacks from water in Act 13 were unconstitutional. The court also ruled that the legal challenge to the section of the law that outlines how medical professionals can address "chemical trade secrets" associated with gas drilling can continue.


Quiet communities with small law-enforcement departments suddenly have to keep up with population booms. Emergency responders have to learn quickly how to deal with types of accidents they couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago.

Housing prices in these same areas have skyrocketed, often — literally and figuratively — leaving long-time residents out in the cold when they’re priced out of their homes.

Heavy truck and other traffic damage roads — sometimes faster than they can be repaired.

The list of challenges continues to grow.

After Act 13 was enacted, counties had been granted a scant 60 days (deadline: April 16, 2012) to assess the Oil and Gas Act of 2012 and decide whether or not to adopt the inadequate impact fee it offered — and with a catch. According to the law, counties that opted to institute the fee could have it rescinded by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) if the commission deemed that a local ordinance conflicted with oil and gas operations. Zoning and setback rules in the law were outlined such that pipelines could potentially end up in neighborhoods and noisy compressor stations could show up near hospitals.

PennFuture will continue to be vigilant in our work to protect Pennsylvania.