1. The General Assembly would be violating the PA Constitution (Article 1, Section 27) if it enacts SB411 without first conducting an environmental impact assessment.
As the PA Supreme Court recognized, the General Assembly must “consider in advance of proceeding the environmental effect of any proposed action on the constitutionally protected features.” The December 19 Supreme Court ruling does not allow some Pennsylvania citizens to be deprived of clean water or to carry heavier environmental burdens than others. The liability exemption for some entities would contradict that ruling.
SB411: “Shall be immune from liability for any cost incurred by a third party, injury to a third party or damage suffered by a third party, including a downstream riparian landowner, which arises out of or occurs as a result of a reclamation project or a water pollution abatement project” SB411 2013 printer no. 431 (amended February 12, 2013)
2. SB411 is far reaching and requires comprehensive hydrogeological analysis and baseline data to look at the impacts of using AMD for Hydraulic Fracturing.
Both the Rand Report on Coal mine Drainage for Marcellus Natural Gas Extraction that was published at the request of the Marcellus Shale Commission in 2012 and the accompanying White Paper written by scientists from the University of Pittsburgh describe serious problems that can occur when combining some AMD with shale fracturing related fluid. These can include reducing the well permeability, precipitating iron hydroxide and/or bacteriological contamination of the well by using sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) or acid-producing bacteria (APB) that can lead to corrosion of the well casing. Both reports recommend that a study be undertaken before moving ahead.
3. Senate Bill 411 would amend the Environmental Good Samaritan Act (EGSA), as it changes definitions, adds new definitions and undermines the intent of the EGSA.”
SB411 PN 1596 is substantially different from its previous versions SB411 PN431 (on the calendar February 2013 and tabled) and SB1346 from last session 2011-2012. (both attached for your convenience). Also, while the SUMMARY SENATE BILL 411 Printer’s No. 431 states at the end, “Comment: This bill is the same as SB1346 which passed the Senate 10/15/12 (49-0) but did not receive consideration in the House. Phenice 3/5/13” This was in error and probably confusing to Senators or their staff who were not familiar with all the changes that had occurred since the October 15 vote.
4. No entities should be immune from our environmental laws.
SB411 would exempt the oil and gas industry and other entities involved in transporting, storing or using AMD for a multitude of “beneficial uses” from compliance with 3 major PA laws: the Clean Streams Law, the Solid Waste Management Act and the Hazardous sites Cleanup Act. Granting immunity to the extraction industry and not to other industries is not fair business practice. A law giving immunity can be an incentive for substandard practices because the consequences of pollution are substantially minimized.