PA Bill Requiring EMS Plan for Marcellus Wells Nears Passage

Although a comprehensive bill to tighten regulations on Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania along with an impact fee has still not passed the PA legislature, a separate, smaller bill is about to. The smaller bill requires Marcellus Shale well operators to provide geographic siting information to local, county and state EMS officials and to develop an emergency response plan.

The well site safety bill sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20, Lehman Twp., is one of a few bills addressing Marcellus drilling that’s moving separately from comprehensive impact fee legislation that includes stronger regulation of drilling activities.

The measure requires operators to post signs at the well site bearing their GPS coordinates, give the coordinates to local, county and state emergency officials and develop response plans. The bill specifies this information is to be posted on reflective signs at both the access road entrance and well pad.

Ms. Baker, who leads the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, developed the bill to ensure firefighters, ambulance crews and hazmat teams know where wells are being planned and where access roads are.

"The changes will reduce the risk for workers, first responders and the community when things go wrong," she said.

This safety measure has been approved by both the Senate and House once. A vote scheduled today in the Senate Rules Committee should move the bill to a final vote on the Senate floor so it can be sent to Gov. Tom Corbett for signing.*

*The Scranton Times Tribune (Jan 17, 2012) – A standalone Marcellus bill moving to passage