Rep. Karen Boback (R-Columbia) announced her intention this week to introduce legislation to restore county conservation districts' authority over erosion and sediment control in the Marcellus Shale region.
"When it comes to protecting our water, air and other natural resources, I say the more oversight, the better," said Rep. Boback. "Conservation districts have historically been active in implementing programs for pollution and sediment control, and I believe they have a valuable role to play as the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania continues to develop."
County conservation districts have acted as the primary local government unit responsible for the conservation of natural resources and implementing programs to address soil erosion, storm water management and flood control.
In 2009, the Department of Environmental Protection assumed some of these responsibilities, effectively eliminating the role of conservation districts in the process.
"It is all about protecting the environment and the health and safety of our citizens," said Rep. Boback. "This legislation is about reinserting local oversight into the drilling process. Decisions about our local environment should not only be in the hands of officials in Harrisburg."
Rep. Boback noted that she is committed to upholding the Pennsylvania Constitution's guarantee of clean air and water.
She also noted her opposition to forced pooling and other policies that would usurp the rights of individual landowners. Forced pooling would allow drilling companies to extract gas under un-leased properties.
Rep. Boback has introduced House Bill 2630 requiring 5,500 feet between fracking operations and a water supply and House Resolution 729 directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to review current law and regulations governing the development of natural gas within the Marcellus Shale formation.