For Immediate Release
General Assembly Approves Natural Gas Drilling Moratorium in Bucks County
HARRISBURG – The General Assembly approved legislation this week that places a drilling moratorium on any oil or gas operations in the South Newark Basin which lies under much of Bucks County.
The moratorium, which was included in amendments to the state's Fiscal Code, was based on language introduced after recognition of the potential of gas under the Newark Basin by Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-10), Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24), Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R-143), Rep. Kathy Watson (R-144) and Rep. Paul Clymer (R-145).
The changes come in light of the recent discovery of rich deposits of natural gas in the South Newark Basin reported by United States Geological Survey.
Over the last several months, Bucks County legislators have worked on draft language to clarify that local zoning requirements in Act 13, which regulates natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, would not apply to counties with unconventional wells. However, given this new discovery, the group worked to place a moratorium on drilling in the newly discovered South Newark basin.
"Drilling for natural gas in Bucks County is prohibited now because of the moratorium in place under the DRBC regulations," said Quinn. "Given the pressure from other parts of the state to lift this moratorium, it's important that we prioritize our water resources until we assess the impact of drilling in the South Newark Basin. Our constituents want to ensure that drilling is safe before it occurs here."
"This legislation makes good on my promise that Act 13 was not intended to apply to Bucks County," McIlhinney said. "My colleagues in Harrisburg never intended for the Marcellus Shale law to affect our region, and now that a newly discovered formation exists, they agree that a moratorium on drilling is appropriate to give us the same time to study and debate the issue for our local area."
"The recent report by USGS has shed a new light on the possible circumstances in Bucks and other southeast PA counties. We believe it is necessary, given this new information, that these counties must be given the opportunity to have a greater say about things happening in their own backyard," Mensch said. "Originally Act 13 was viewed as primarily an issue for the northern tier counties. This new information proves otherwise."
The legislation notes the unique geologic and geochemical characteristics of the South Newark Basin as compared to the rest of the Commonwealth and that the South Newark Basin has not been evaluated by the Commonwealth and is deserving of further study.
"The concept of a moratorium for this newly discovered deposit is entirely appropriate at this point in time because it gives all of the interested stakeholders in the process – local residents, scientists and governments – the ability to study the formation in depth and to determine the next appropriate steps on whether or not drilling is even possible or desirable", said Watson. The involvement of our area is key to ensuring that any development in this formation is in the best interests of our citizens and our environment."
"I think this moratorium is a prudent step that will allow us to fully examine the impact of drilling in our county," said Clymer. "Although I applaud the economic advantages gained through drilling, we need to first ensure the safety of our citizens and the preservation of our environment. I look forward to further exploration of this issue in the long-term future."
Senator McIlhinney's Office: Heather Cevasco – 717-787-7305 - 215-489-5000
Senator Mensch's Office: Tim Hennessy - 717.787.3110
Rep. Clymer's Office: Jennifer Keaton - 717-705-2094
Rep. Quinn's Office: Krisinda Corbin - 717.705.2032
Rep. Watson's Office: Jennifer Keaton - 717-705-2094