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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 8, 2014 11:00 AM
From: Representative Matt Gabler
To: All House members
Subject: Pennsylvania Disposal Well Legislation (previously HB 1566 of 2013)
In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation establishing minimum setbacks for disposal wells in Pennsylvania previously HB 1566 of 2013-14. The siting of disposal wells in Pennsylvania, known as Class II D wells, is regulated and permitted by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA analyzes the subsurface geology to determine the suitability of a location in order to protect groundwater from contamination. However, their program does not consider neighboring features at the surface when reviewing permits for these disposal wells.

Waste disposal wells have been used for decades for the disposal of brine water produced through the development of oil and gas. This water is produced by “conventional” and “unconventional” drilling alike. In many cases, this produced brine water originates in oil and gas bearing formations. Consequently, it makes environmental sense in some cases to return the brines to the formations in which they originated. However, it is important to ensure that the locations of disposal well sites are chosen carefully with respect for the surrounding environment and nearby residents and landowners.

Therefore, my legislation proposes to require a setback of at least 1,000 feet from drinking water sources and occupied structures such as residences for all new proposed Class II D disposal wells in Pennsylvania. With the growth of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania, the need for brine disposal sites continuously increases, so now is the appropriate time to work on legislation to ensure that future proposed sites are appropriately located and kept where they belong – away from residential neighborhoods, densely populated areas and drinking water sources.


Introduced as HB507