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2011 Year In Review and Look Ahead

2011 saw steady increases in production throughout the Marcellus Shale play, a heavy emphasis on strengthening and expanding pipeline infrastructure, and a boom in the level of activity in the Utica Shale play. Although the overall national economy continued to sputter in 2011, the increased level of activity in the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio proved to any remaining doubters that the energy companies working in these areas, along with the multitude of businesses that service the industry, will be permanent fixtures in our region for years to come.

2012 should see continued growth and maturation of drilling programs throughout the Marcellus play and the start of concerted drilling efforts in the Utica play. The next few weeks should bring the much anticipated announcement regarding Shell's location of its ethane cracker, with West Virginia and Pennsylvania seen as the leading contenders. With the passage of the West Virginia Horizontal Well Drilling Act in December of 2011, most expect a relatively quiet legislative session in West Virginia with respect to oil and gas issues. On the legislative side in Pennsylvania, 2012 looks to be another busy year, with Governor Corbett indicating that he will sign into law the drilling emergency response bill aimed at providing first responders with GPS coordinates of wells and emergency response plans for each drill site, and negotiations are ongoing among both chambers of the legislature and the Governor on a broader bill addressing an extraction fee and the extent to which local ordinances that attempt to limit drilling will be preempted. This legislation will certainly impact ongoing litigation before local zoning boards and courts regarding the lengths to which local governments may attempt to regulate development of Marcellus shale rights.

Click here to see our compilation of some of the most important stories in the oil and gas industry in our region for 2011. Many of the stories featured here will continue to be issues that demand our attention in 2012 and beyond.
In the News
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Beginning with the February 2012 issue, Marcellus Fairway: The Play Today will be distributed under a new name: The Shale Play Today. This new title better reflects the scope of the information we provide to you, our readers, on a monthly basis.

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Pa. Gov. Corbett Signs Act 127, Authorizing PUC Jurisdiction Over Pipeline Safety   

by Barry A. Naum

Harrisburg, Pa. 


On December 22, 2011, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed HB 344 into law as the Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipeline Act, or "Act 127," which ascribes to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission ("Pa. PUC" or "Commission") regulatory authority over natural gas pipelines in the Commonwealth. Specifically, Act 127 mandates that the Pa. PUC will "establish and maintain a registry of all pipeline operations" and provides the Commission with authority to enforce Federal pipeline safety standards and regulations over all "pipeline operators" within the Commonwealth, which is defined as non-public utility owners or operators of "equipment or facilities . . . for the transportation of gas or hazardous liquids by pipeline or pipeline facility regulated under federal pipeline safety laws." Under this definition, Pa. PUC regulatory authority is expressly extended by the Act to include oversight of operators of "gathering" pipelines.


Read more on our website.

Allyn G. Turner

Marcellus Shale Team Member


Allyn G. Turner (Charleston, W.Va.)

Allyn has more than 20 years of experience in environmental law, focusing primarily on water permitting, enforcement issues and litigation for the energy sector. She previously served as Director of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Water and Waste Management, and has extensive experience in water and waste issues from both a private sector and regulatory perspective. Click  here to view Allyn's full professional biography.