As a Pennsylvania homeowner, you need to concern yourself with some environmental issues that could greatly affect you. You may be happy to know that Pennsylvania fracking regulations are some of the most comprehensive in the country. Furthermore, Pennsylvania state government control over drilling and fracking operations has been augmented by subsequent court decisions and adoption of state water protection laws.
Pennsylvania municipalities have been using local zoning laws to increase municipal power over fracking and oil and gas drilling. Whether this greatly affects you, or will involve your PA homeowners insurance in any way, is up for debate.
Strict regulations are in place to reduce risks
In order to obtain a permit to drill anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania, oil and gas companies must submit a detailed report to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protections (DEP) that includes all information required to carry out environmental risk analysis. Information regarding any drilling, including well depth and location must be specified, as well as related geological information including the type and nature of surrounding rock formations, proximity to groundwater, and proximity to local water supplies.
Measures to protect against drinking water contamination
The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act requires drillers to replace or resolve any loss of drinking water due to contamination from drilling operations. Drillers are accountable for contamination if it occurs within 1,000 feet from the well in question and within 6 months after well completion, but can contest responsibility for contamination under the following conditions:
- By providing proof that the pollution existed prior to the drilling
- If the landowner or water purveyor refused to allow access to conduct a pre-drilling water test
- If the water supply is not within 1,000 feet of the gas well, or pollution occurred more than six months after completion of gas well drilling, or
- If the pollution occurred as the result of some cause other than gas well drilling
These regulations have resulted in a much higher incidence of water pre-testing than in other states. Ask your insurer if your PA homeowners insurance has a provision for incidents stemming from fracking.