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Gov. Corbett signs bill toughening gas and coal act

Gov. Tom Corbett today signed a Senate bill into law that places stricter mandates on the Coal and Gas Resource Coordination Act.

The amendments that had been proposed in Senate Bill 265 include the following:

  • Gas well drillers seeking to drill in an operating coal mine must attach the written consent of the mine operators to permit applications.
  • Drillers must leave safe spacing between gas well clusters that penetrate workable coal seams. The state will not issue a gas drilling permit unless a gas well cluster is at least 2,000 feet from the nearest gas well cluster, unless the owner of a coal seam gives written consent.
  • The bill contains a dispute resolution process that could be used if a permit applicant disagrees with the owner of a coal seam.
  • Well operators must provide a well bore deviation survey to coal seam owners within 60 days of completing drilling.
  • The state Department of Environmental Protection will commission an independent comprehensive evaluation and update of the Joint Coal and Gas Committee Gas Well Pillar Study commissioned in 1956. The state Environmental Quality Board could modify regulations that change the maximum square footage between well clusters based on the results of the study.
  • New definitions of terms including “workable coal seam,” “active coal mine” and “operating coal mine.”

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