Marcellus Shale question: Who will pay to monitor gas drilling?

By Tom Wilber of the Star Gazette

The state is asking local government agencies to regulate key aspects of the natural gas industry, raising yet more questions about who will pay for manpower to oversee multinational energy companies setting up shop in Southern Tier’s backyards.

The industry’s effect on water resources and roads are included in a report released Sept. 30 by the Department of Environmental Conservation outlining environmental concerns from full-scale Marcellus Shale development.

Risks to water, the report says, include turbidity, methane contamination and, to a lesser degree, potential for hazardous chemicals to breach well-bore casings or spill while being handled or disposed of on the surface.

To deal with those threats, the state is calling on local health departments to oversee a testing program of private wells in drilling zones. Testing would begin before drilling starts, and continue for a year after it ends.

DEC would also require drilling companies to work out a plan with local governments to minimize traffic problems and cover damage to roads caused by fleets of heavy equipment, water tankers and drill rigs caravanning from site to site.

The industry’s promise of affluence, supporters say, will help the struggling economy and bolster the tax base. Yet officials have yet to figure out how to pay to oversee an onslaught of permitting and drilling activity – mostly in the Southern Tier – that is expected to begin next year.

The county is looking at a 3.9 percent tax hike and job cuts to help balance next year’s budget. Gov. David Paterson has ordered state agencies to cut operating expenses 11 percent.

“How will we pay? That is a concern,” said Broome County Legislator Stephen Herz, D-Windsor, a member of the Finance Committee.

A proposal to steer industry fees and taxes into the state’s general fund died in Albany earlier this year. Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, favors a plan to raise permit fees and earmark them for regulatory staffing. So does the industry.

http://www.stargazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009910100362 The rest of the article is at this link. I know that this info is for NY state but much of what goes on there is close to my area of PA. Overall I feel NY state has done a better job with regulations and has taken some time for thought before jumping into this. PA did not seem to take the time to consider all impacts and effects of the drilling.

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