StateImpact | 14 August 2015
New Oil and Gas Rules Irk Both Environmentalists and Industry
State environmental regulators are asking for comments on the final version of new oil and gas rules. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released detailed updates to its oil and gas rules on 12 August. The proposals result from a 4-year process that garnered nearly 30,000 public comments to DEP. Still, this latest version is getting push back from both industry and environmentalists.
In a call with reporters, DEP Secretary John Quigley called the announcement a “great step forward in responsible drilling in Pennsylvania.”
“DEP’s definition of responsible drilling is protecting public health and the environment while enabling drilling to proceed,” Quigley said.
Although the release of the draft rules marks the final leg of a long process that began as a result of the passage of the state’s drilling law Act 13 in 2012, Quigley says there’s more to come.
“This is not the end of the process,” he said. “There is more study needed on additional measures, and there will be more rule making in a separate process to ensure responsible drilling and protection of communities, public health, and the environment.”
The proposed rules include everything from what defines a public playground to how drillers store their waste water. Previous proposals included new regulations on noise. But the DEP has tabled that issue for now, saying more scientific study is needed. The DEP also affirmed its authority to deny drilling permits if the agency decides it would pose too much of a risk to water supplies.
Some environmentalists have criticized the department for not using its authority to shut down bad actors or prevent drilling in high risk areas.
“We argued with them for years that they should be making those decisions,” said Tracy Carluccio with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “But it’s good that they’re recognizing this power and putting it in black and white.”
Industry is unhappy with the proposals, calling the rules a “regulatory overreach,” and saying they would cost drillers too much money to implement.
“Unfortunately, DEP’s regulatory proposal will cost Pennsylvania job creators nearly USD 2 billion annually without providing meaningful environmental benefits,” said Marcellus Shale Coalition president David Spigelmyer.
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