Monday, April 19, 2010

PennDOT's diligence establishes an example

Public Opinion Online Editorial
By Matthew Major, opinion editor and member of Public Opinion's editorial board

It was only a matter of time before the drilling activity in the Marcellus Shale region began to take its toll.

That kind of heavy industry not only threatens the surrounding environment, but quickly wears out the public infrastructure it needs to accommodate massive truck traffic.

So it wasn't a total surprise when we heard that PennDOT this week revoked a road use permit for Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the second such revocation the company has accrued since March 1.

Chesapeake had been granted a permit to put heavy trucks and equipment on a state road in Bradford County. The road normally has a 10-ton weight restriction.

Chesapeake's permit carried the understanding the company would be responsible for repairs. It was revoked after the company failed to deal with severe damage it caused, PennDOT said.

On March 1, PennDOT revoked Chesapeake's permit to use another Bradford County state road for the same reasons. The permit was restored after the company made repairs. The road was closed for about one week.

Chances are, much the same thing will happen with the most recent revocation. But the incidents definitely highlight a need for close monitoring of the drilling activity in the Marcellus region.

It's reassuring to see the state keeping a close eye on the roads supporting the natural gas bonanza in the Marcellus Shale region. We only hope that other state agencies in charge of human health and environmental protections are doing the same.



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