The report is dense, careful, thorough, and thoughtful – a must-read.
The executive summary says that the Roundtable concluded that the necessary ingredients for a “getting it right” framework for unconventional gas development are:
- a strong, adaptive legal and regulatory system with adequate implementation staff and resources;
- aggressive development and industry adoption of best management practices and other operational performance standards;
- investments in technological and operational innovation; and
- carefully targeted and balanced research to inform the continual improvement of statutes, regulations, best management practices, standards, and technology.
If Pennsylvania and its surrounding states pursue excellence in these four areas, the Appalachian Basin could serve as a national model for getting unconventional upstream, midstream, and downstream development right. Specifically, the Roundtable believes that Pennsylvania could best implement this framework by aiming progress at three interrelated goals:The report calls for rigorous monitoring of possible impacts of unconventional gas development, for improved planning, and for improving transparency of state government. In particular, the Roundtable calls for better, clearer, and more easily accessible state reporting; for participation by the Commonwealth in independent assessments of the adequacy of state regulations; for regular evaluation of enforcement needs; and for development of enforcement staffing parameters.
- Minimizing the acute and cumulative impacts of oil and gas activity on the environment, public health, and local communities
- Minimizing surface disturbance from oil and gas activity and maximizing the efficiency of resource recovery and transport
- Enhancing the regional use of natural gas and supporting opportunities for regional economic growth based on the full natural gas value chain
The report should be mandatory reading for state policymakers - in Pennsylvania and across the nation.