Now here is Marcellus Shale legislation written by the Pennsylvania General Assembly that we can get behind unequivocally, and judging by its bipartisan support in the capitol, so can both parties.
Gov. Tom Corbett is poised to sign a bill into law that would require the accurate mapping of any deep gas well in the state and provide the location right down to the GPS coordinates to emergency responders.
Early in the Marcellus gas rush, there were some pretty large blowouts, fires and other mishaps that threatened the safety of not only the people working on those rigs, but the public in the surrounding area.
Quick response to those emergencies is critical. A gas well that has blown its blowout protector and has ignited is a furious challenge for firefighters. The sooner they get to the scene the better chance they have of mitigating the damage and treating anyone injured.
This, of course, was an easy bill for the General Assembly to act on. It costs the gas industry virtually nothing and makes everyone feel a little bit safer. And, it should go a long way to counteract the embarrassment by the revelation that the state's environmental protection agency didn't know where all of the gas wells were located just a few weeks ago.
Now, if someone could send the General Assembly a back brace with which to attack the issue of establishing fees or taxes on deep-well production in the state. Certainly, there have been sufficient public opinion polls indicating broad support for such fees, which could be used for environmental and infrastructure mitigation related to the drilling and/or helping to prevent the erosion of the state's public education system that has occured under this administration.