Pennsylvania Act 13 is legislation that was enacted to allow for more comprehensive monitoring and regulation of hydraulic fracturing operations within the commonwealth of Pennsylvania This act implements stringent environmental standards and regulations with regards to the operation of hydraulic fracturing wells and allows for local government to institute an impact fee. This legislation was implemented in response to many concerns resulting from the hydraulic fracturing industry and its impact on local residents and the environment. Due to the lack of federal legislation to regulate this industry, it has been, for the most part left up to local states and municipalities to regulate this industry. There have been widely documented cases of contamination of local water wells and water supplies that because of the lack of federal legislation, there was no method in place to deal with the concerns of local residents affected. There also were no standards in place with regards to possible contamination of the local water table or local resident’s wells.
In many cases the infrastructure necessary to regulate and oversee the fracturing industry does not exist on a local level. There are testing concerns and it is necessary to employ engineers and scientists such as geologists as well as scientists specializing in environmental science in order to monitor and report the impact of fracturing. Most state level governments do not have that kind of manpower. Economically, it is not feasible for most to just bring all these people in. In the Act 13 there is a provision for collecting impact fees that can offset some of the costs associated with retaining the level of personnel needed to oversee any regulations and conduct any necessary studies
Act 13 defines the operations related to hydraulic fracturing specifically and implements policy and protocol with regards to obtaining permits and what type of permits are required. It also allows for a more detailed disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracturing process and requires operators to file a chemical disclosure form for chemicals it proposes to use in any well operation that has to be filed with the state department of environmental protection.
Act 13 would appear to be the most comprehensive set of legislation to date with regards to the hydraulic fracturing industry. It provides regulations for obtaining permits, notifications and reporting; institutes stringent environmental protections; sets forth regulations regarding inspections and enforcements and provides guidelines for containment of “unconventional wells”
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