On July 2, Pennsylvania Governor Corbett signed Act 87 of 2012 into law imposing a moratorium on issuance of new natural gas well drilling permits for wells targeting the South Newark Basin, a formation that underlies parts of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

As has been reported in the press, legislators reacted to a report issued by the United States Geological Survey dated June 2012 suggesting that the South Newark Basin probably contains between 363 and 1698 billion cubic feet of natural gas.  The legislators inserted the appended language in a bill addressing largely unrelated matters.

The amendment will prohibit new well drilling permits until the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources completes a study on the “resource recovery implications” and “fiscal implications” of natural gas development in consultation with the municipal governments.  In addition, the moratorium continues until counties in the South Newark Basin can elect to impose an impact fee under the recent amendments to the Oil and Gas Act known as “Act 13.”

The affected area lies in the Delaware River Basin.  The Delaware River Basin Commission has imposed its own moratorium on natural gas development in the basin until it adopts regulations.  The Pennsylvania Administration has been vocal about lifting that moratorium by having the DRBC adopt regulations.  Accordingly, the Governor’s signature on Act 87 is not obviously consistent.Continue Reading Moratorium on Development of South Newark Basin Gas in PA

 On November 29, the New York Assembly passed A1143B/S08129B which had previously passed the Senate.  Governor Paterson is reported to be prepared to sign the bill, although the New York Times blog reports that industry groups are still pushing for a veto.  The bill, if signed, would impose a moratorium on new permits for natural gas wells that use hydraulic fracturing until May 15, 2011. 

Reports are that New York is allied with Pennsylvania in trying to break the logjam on natural gas well regulations at the Delaware River Basin Commission.  That suggests some division in the New York approach.  Some believe that the moratorium until May 15 is just political posturing because it will not really mean much.  Note that no permits can be granted in New York until NYSDEC finalizes its Revised Generic Environmental Impact Statement  With a gubernatorial transition upcoming, May is not likely to be much further out than the GEIS, so this action may be more cosmetic than important.
The text of the bill follows.

       AN ACT to suspend hydraulic fracturing; and providing for the repeal  of
         such provisions upon the expiration thereof


    1    Section 1. There is hereby established a suspension of the issuance of
    2  new permits for the drilling of a well which utilizes  the  practice  of
    3  hydraulic  fracturing  for the purpose of stimulating natural gas or oil
    4  in low permeability natural gas reservoirs, such as  the  Marcellus  and
    5  Utica shale formations.
    6    The  purpose  of  such suspension shall be to afford the state and its
    7  residents the opportunity to continue the review  and  analysis  of  the
    8  effects  of hydraulic fracturing on water and air quality, environmental
    9  safety and public health.
   10    For the purposes of this section, "hydraulic  fracturing"  shall  mean
   11  the  fracturing  of rock by fluid for the purpose of stimulating natural
   12  gas or oil for any purpose.
   13    This section shall not apply to permits issued prior to the  effective
   14  date  of this act which utilize hydraulic fracturing that are subject to
   15  renewal.
   16    S 2. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall expire  and  be
   17  deemed repealed on May 15, 2011.


Continue Reading Marcellus Shale Moratorium in New York, But Only Until May