Penn State Extension webinar covers government roles in gas rush

University Park, Pa. — Local governments' roles in the regulation and implementation of gas drilling in Pennsylvania are a growing concern for residents and lawmakers alike, according to an expert in the Penn State Dickinson School of Law.

Many aspects of natural-gas drilling operations are regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in accordance with the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act. "One of the questions for local governments is how much they can regulate drilling operations," said Ross Pifer, director of the Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center, which is a collaborative initiative with Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
 
Pifer will talk about the roles of local government in enacting or influencing drilling regulations during a free online seminar at 1 p.m. on May 21. Information about how to register for the one-hour webinar is available at http://naturalgas.extension.psu.edu/Events.htm. Online participants will have the opportunity to ask the speaker questions during the webinar.
 
Pifer will discuss the state regulatory framework governing natural-gas drilling and the interplay between existing state rules and local government policymaking.
 
"The impact of drilling operations upon land enrolled in the 'Clean and Green' program is another issue facing local government," said Pifer. "Under current law, each county assessor determines whether drilling activity will cause a violation of the terms of the program." Clean and Green is a preferential tax-assessment program that allows forest and farmland to be assessed at its use value instead of its market value.
 
Sponsored by Penn State Cooperative Extension, the webinar is part of a series of monthly online workshops addressing various issues related to Marcellus shale gas exploration and extraction. Previous webinars — which covered topics such as water use and quality, gas leasing considerations for landowners and implications for local communities — can be viewed at http://naturalgas.extension.psu.edu/webinars.htm.
 
For more information, contact Joann Kowalski, extension educator in Susquehanna County, at (570) 278-1158 or by e-mail at jmk20@psu.edu.
Last Updated May 11, 2009