EQB Opens Public Comment Period on Proposed Oil and Gas Regulations

DEP to Host Informational Webinars

HARRISBURG – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Environmental Quality Board has announced that the public comment period for a proposed regulation for environmental protection performance standards associated with oil and gas activities will open on Saturday.

The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) is a 20-member independent board chaired by the secretary of DEP that adopts all of the department’s regulations and considers petitions to change regulations. During the public comment period, the EQB will be hosting seven public hearings across Pennsylvania and offer multiple ways to submit comments.

Along with the EQB hearings, DEP will be holding two webinars on Dec. 19, from 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., and Jan. 3, from 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m., to present information and answer questions on the proposed regulation.

“Public participation is a key part to forging the best regulations possible,” DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. “An exceptional number of hearings are being offered by the EQB to gather information and to be sure that people’s voices are heard.”

The proposed regulation implements key provisions of Act 13 of 2012, including further 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 proposed well sites.

Public Hearings

People wishing to present verbal testimony at a hearing are requested to contact the EQB at least one week in advance of the hearing to reserve a time. Those who wish to present testimony at the hearing may use the address below or call the EQB at 717-787-4526 to reserve time to testify. All relevant written and oral comments that are received at a public hearing will be considered when finalizing the regulation.

Witnesses are limited to five minutes of testimony and are requested to submit three written copies of their testimony to the hearing chairperson at the hearing. Organizations are limited to designating one witness to present testimony on their behalf at each hearing.

Individuals in need of accommodations as provided for in the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact the EQB to discuss their needs at 717-787-4526 or make accommodations through the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Service at 800-654-5984 (TDD) or 800-654-5988 (voice users).

Online Comments

The public is being invited to submit comments to the EQB regarding the proposed rulemaking by Feb. 12, 2014. Along with their comments, people can submit a one-page summary of their comments to the EQB. Comments, including the one page summary, may be submitted to EQB by accessing the EQB’s Online Public Comment System at http://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/RegComments.

Written Comments

Written comments and summaries should be mailed to Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477.

The summaries and a formal comment and response document will be distributed to the EQB and available publicly prior to the meeting when the final rulemaking will be considered.

Email Comments

People can also submit comments to RegComments@pa.gov.

Online and email comments must also be received by the EQB on or before Feb. 12. If an acknowledgement of comments submitted online or by email is not received by the sender within two business days, the comments should be re-sent to the EQB to ensure receipt.

For more information or to register for DEP’s Informational webinars, visit www.dep.state.pa.us, keyword: Webinars. After registration, an email will be sent containing a link to the webinar. The webinar will be recorded and posted on the Oil and Gas webinars webpage for future viewing.

To view materials for the proposed regulation, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click the “Proposed Oil and Gas Regulations” button.

Editor’s Note: The public hearings will be held at 6 p.m. A list of locations and dates follows:

Wyoming County

Jan. 7, 2014, Tunkhannock High School Auditorium, 135 Tiger Dr., Tunkhannock, PA 18657

Chester County

Jan. 9, 2014, West Chester University of Pennsylvania’s Sykes Student Union Theater, 110 W. Rosedale Ave., West Chester, PA 19383

Lycoming County

Jan. 13, 2014, Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Klump Academic Center, One College Ave., Williamsport, PA 17701

Crawford County

Jan. 15, 2014, Meadville Area Senior High School Auditorium, 930 N. St., Meadville, PA 16335

Cumberland County

Jan. 16, 2014, Good Hope Middle School Auditorium, 451 Skyport Rd., Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

Washington County

Jan. 22, 2014, Washington and Jefferson College’s Rossin Campus Center / Allen Ballroom, 60 S. Lincoln St., Washington, PA 15301

Indiana County

Jan. 23, 2014, Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Convention and Athletic Complex, 711 Pratt Dr., Indiana, PA 15705

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