Marcellus Shale Impact Bill a Step Forward for Fish and Wildlife in Pennsylvania

Erin Mooney Trout Unlimited, (215) 557-2845,


Marcellus Shale Impact Bill a Step Forward for Fish and Wildlife in Pennsylvania

New rules a step in the right direction, but protections should be stronger.

Harrisburg, PA House Bill 1950, the state’s long-debated Marcellus Shale bill, passed the Pennsylvania House and Senate and is now headed to the governor’s desk for signing.

“The bill provides needed protections for Pennsylvania’s trout streams and other natural resources,” said Katy Dulap, Eastern Water Project director for Trout Unlimited.

Specifically, Trout Unlimited applauds the following components of HB1950:

  • The financial support it will provide to the Pennsylvania Fish&Boat Commission for investigative and enforcement activities. Until now, anglers have been paying for these PFBC duties via license fees.
  • The funding it will provide for the Growing Greener Fund, a state environmental fund.
  • Its requirement that water withdrawals for drilling or hydraulic fracturing have a Water Management Plan, approved by the Department of Environmental Protection, that protects and maintains the designated and existing uses of water sources. Anglers have long been concerned about how withdrawals can adversely affect Pennsylvania’s High Quality and Exceptional Value streams.
  • It’s requirement that the DEP consider the impact on public resources and authorizes the DEP to condition well permits to ensure protection of public resources, including public lands and habitats of rare and endangered species.
  • It’s requirement that prohibits well pad sites or drilling of wells in floodplains, if the site includes open pits or impoundments that would hold chemicals, flowback, hazardous material or produced water.

“Indeed, HB1950 takes important steps forward,” said Ken Undercoffer, president of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited. “Additional safeguards, however, are needed to adequately address the lingering concerns of anglers,” Undercoffer said.

One area where HB1950 does not go far enough is the requirement that drillers increase the distance from a well bore to a stream from 100 to 300 feet. TU advocates that well pads, as opposed to well bores, should be at least 300 feet from a stream or other body of water.

“TU is committed to finding solutions that address the remaining concerns of anglers,” said Dunlap. “Utimately, our goal is to ensure that Pennsylvania’s fabled trout streams are adequately protected.”

HB 1950 also includes a provision that gives the commonwealth exclusive jurisdiction over all aspects and processes related to drilling on the Allegheny National Forest, including surface impacts and water withdrawals. Last December, sportsmen and women from 36 sportsmen conservation organizations expressed opposition to such restrictions, out of concern that they would prevent the U.S. Forest Service from properly managing the forest and the fish and wildlife that rely upon it.


Trout Unlimited is a non-profit organization with more than 147,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook on Twitter via @TroutUnlimited.