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Thursday, April 1, 2010

PA HB 2213 falls about 8 football fields short

Sorry folks, but the math isn't working here. PA HB 2213 is being touted as something it isn't; a well thought-out piece of legislation.

Follow me for a moment. This bill, if signed into law, would impact all of PA. It's based upon laws written in 1984 when 99.99999% of all gas wells drilled were vertical wells. One hole - straight down. Even those early vertical wells that were fracked only broke up the rocks ~300' laterally from the bottom of the borehole...so in 1984, 1,000' might have been an adequate baseline distance for water well protection purposes. And I emphasize might.

The proposed revisions to the 1984 act read as follows:

"Unless rebutted by one of the five defenses established in subsection (d), it shall be presumed that a well operator is responsible for the pollution or the diminution of a water supply that is within [1,000] 2,500 feet of the oil or gas well,"

Today...it's a whole different ball game with a different set of rules. Most horizontally-hydrofracked wells look more like this:

And, in many cases, the laterals are being drilled out 5,000' from the well pad.

Still think 2,500' is adequate? Check out a local expert's views on a similar bill ( HB 1205 ).

I believe the minimum new baseline distance should be 1,000' beyond the end of any lateral boreholes.

Let's get it right before the ink dries.



  1. So, I just got a call from Penn Environment, asking me to help support this bill. While it seems clear that the bill is far from sufficient, indeed perhaps nearly useless, do you think it is still better than nothing ?

  2. Is it better than nothing? IMHO, just barely.

    All bills start with a blank piece of paper, so let's get a law that truly protects folks. Is that too much to hope for?

    Thanks for commenting.