Injection Well Safe Water Act
The Injection Well Safe Water Act has been introduced as House Bill 2350. The following is a commentary by State Representative, Camille "Bud" George.
The George Report: Injection well safety bill will protect water, prevent earthquakes; April 2012 commentary by state Rep. Camille "Bud" George, D-74 of Clearfield County.
I hope everyone had an enjoyable Easter surrounded by friends and family. When the House returns to session, I expect a robust budget debate as I and others attempt to undo some of the proposed cuts to education and social programs found in Governor Tom Corbett's budget.
I'll have more information on the budget when we come back. Details change by the hour, but I intend to continue fighting for the rights of working people over the rights of political and corporate fat cats.
To that extent, I've recently introduced a bill that puts the priorities of people - clean water being one of those priorities - over those of profit-driven polluters who look for a quick buck before leaving town.
House Bill 2350, known as the Injection Well Safe Water Act, was recently introduced after a number of tweaks and amendments to the draft language. I feel this bill is crucial to maintaining safe water supplies, especially as concerns mount over the risks involved with injecting Marcellus drilling waste into deep injection wells.
A well proposed in Brady Township has stirred local concern. The safety of the injection wells also has received national attention after it was suggested that the wells were the source of numerous earthquakes in Ohio.
Since announcing my intent to draft legislation that would provide protection from these wells, I've received many letters of support for this endeavor. Not surprisingly, the proposal has received no negative feedback.
The bill is important because it addresses many of the issues associated with deep injection wells. Because studies are still being conducted to determine the safety of this disposal method, I include a two-year moratorium on the drilling of new injection wells. Further, an injection well drilled after January 1 of this year may not accept any oil or gas drilling waste during the moratorium.
This ensures that any wells drilled before this act would take effect - such as the one proposed in Brady Township - could not accept waste in the two-year timeframe.
For already existing wells, as well as new ones drilled after the moratorium expires, I require greater setbacks from public water supplies, private water supplies --unless an owner provides written consent otherwise - and exceptional value or high quality water sources, as well as our pristine trout streams.
I also ban the wells in floodplains.
After the earthquakes in Ohio began, it was discovered that one of the injection wells was perilously close to a geologic fault line. It'sbeen discussed that the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing - which serve as lubricants underground - actually allowed the ground to shift at the fault lines, causing the Ohio earthquakes.
My bill sets a 2,000 feet setback from these geologic fault lines. As Clearfield County residents point out, fault lines run right through the Brady Township area.
The bill contains other measures that the state Department of Environmental Protection and the injection well operators must follow to ensure safety. Many of these provisions were taken from recently adopted regulations in Ohio that are meant to stifle the recent problems.
The unfortunate reality is that the Republicans are driving the legislative train, which means that unless enough people take up the banner, my bill may remain buried in committee for the rest of the session.
I tried several months ago to place some injection well safety provisions into a bill as an amendment. It was defeated by a slim majority. I intend on amending other bills in the same manner with hopes of a different outcome.
With your help and support, this is a battle we can win.