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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: March 30, 2023 12:34 PM
From: Representative Danielle Friel Otten
To: All House members
Subject: Setback Distances for Natural Gas Well Sites and Related Infrastructure
The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s 43rd Statewide Investigating Grand Jury report on the unconventional oil and gas industry highlighted the misconduct of certain companies in relation to the drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Upon the conclusion of the grand jury’s two-year investigation in 2020, several legislative recommendations were made that would strengthen protections for the environment and the citizens of our commonwealth. 

Currently, under Section 3215 of Title 58 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, certain setback distances are provided relative to the location of unconventional natural gas wells near buildings, streams, wetlands, etc. However, the grand jury concluded that the current setbacks do not provide adequate protection for the environment or for public health and safety and, therefore, should be increased to 2,500 feet.

My proposed legislation, based on the first of the grand jury's eight recommendations, increases setbacks for unconventional natural gas well sites and imposes a 2,500-foot setback to certain related infrastructure, such as: 
  • Natural gas compressor stations
  • Pits, impoundments, and storage tanks that contain drilling cuttings, flowback water, produced water, hazardous materials, chemicals, fuels, condensate, solid waste, and other waste.
This legislation also follows the grand jury’s recommendation to further increase setbacks for schools and hospitals, to 5,000 feet.

As then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro stated, “Our government has a duty to set, and enforce, ground rules that protect public health and safety. We are the referees; we are here to prevent big corporations and the powerful industries from harming our communities or running over the rights of citizens.” I agree with his statement, and I believe that as legislators, we must do all we can to protect the residents of our commonwealth and our constitutional right to clean air and pure water.

I hope you will join me in support of this important legislation.

Introduced as HB170