Pennsylvania State Senator proposes moratorium on hydraulic fracturing

On September 18, 2013, Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) proposed a Senate Bill 1100 that would impose a moratorium on new hydraulic fracturing permits until the seven-member Well Drilling Study Commission established in the bill can review and analyze a wide range of issues, including water source protection, air quality regulations, disclosure of chemicals used in fracking and the permitting process.

This Natural Gas Drilling Moratorium Act would allow the current permits to stand while the commission investigates the agricultural, economic, environmental and social impacts of the hydraulic fracturing process. The commission members would be representatives from a non-profit environmental group, an academic, a geologist, a medical or public health experts, a representative of the oil and gas industry, the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the secretary from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The commission’s report would be expected in January 2017.

The Senator stated that he “introduced this bill because Pennsylvanians and gas field residents all over the county have been forced to stand by and watch [damage caused by oil and gas drilling companies], and we must take a step back to deliberately and thoughtfully direct our path in the future.

 A member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives intends on filing a similar bill. Already in Pennsylvania there are small pockets of land where natural gas drilling has been halted:

  1. in Wayne County where the Delaware River Basin Commission has imposed a moratorium, and 
  2. in the state’s forest and park lands.

This Natural Gas Drilling Moratorium Act will face stiff opposition in both chambers of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly where Republicans control the votes and from Gov. Tom Corbett, who supports of the energy industry.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713.651.3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.