HARRISBURG – The Department of Environmental Protection has announced that the Environmental Quality Board approved a proposed regulation that will strengthen environmental protection performance standards associated with oil and gas activities.
This proposed rulemaking reflects significant input from statewide environmental organizations, local government groups, residents living near well sites and industry representatives who have met with DEP over the last two years to share their expertise in shaping this proposal.
The department has recommended increasing the public comment period for the proposal from the normal 30-day timeframe and holding one public hearing, to a 60-day comment period with at least six public hearings across the state to gather as much public input as possible.
“Through Gov. Corbett’s leadership, Pennsylvania is proving that economic opportunity does not have to occur at the expense of environmental stewardship,” Acting DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. “We are working hard to ensure that natural gas development is done according to the high and consistent standards Pennsylvanians expect.”
This proposed regulation furthers the department’s implementation of the tasks it was assigned by the General Assembly under Act 13 of 2012. Corbett signed Act 13 on Feb. 14, 2012, and the law represents the first comprehensive update and strengthening of the state’s oil and gas laws in nearly 30 years.
The draft regulation includes provisions further enhancing the consideration of impacts to public resources, such as parks and wildlife areas; the prevention of spills; the management of waste; and the restoration of well sites after drilling.
Additionally, the draft rulemaking also includes standards affecting the construction of gathering lines and temporary pipelines, and includes provisions for identifying and monitoring abandoned wells close to well sites.
“This proposed regulation includes comprehensive amendments that are designed to reduce potential environmental impacts from oil and gas activities,” Abruzzo said. “I personally want to thank the EQB for their support in moving this historical package forward.”
The draft regulation will be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of General Counsel. After the offices’ review, the comment period will be opened and the public invited to submit written comments to the EQB.
Details on where comments can be submitted on the draft rulemaking will be provided when the proposal is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and on DEP’s Web site. The dates and locations of the six public hearings will be announced by the EQB in the near future on the website and through a news release issued by the department.
To view materials for the proposed regulation, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click the “Draft Oil and Gas Regulations” button.