HARRISBURG — The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced that its proposal to provide additional public input opportunity on an Application for Gas Well Spacing Units, or spacing order, received from Hilcorp Energy Co. has been adopted.
“DEP is proud to announce the securing of an additional opportunity for the general public to weigh in on this important matter,” DEP Deputy Secretary Scott Perry said. “We thank the hearing officer for recognizing and affirming the need for all to have their voices heard and comments considered.”
Hilcorp Energy Co. is applying for a well spacing order that establishes four gas well drilling units on 3,267 acres to drill into the Utica Shale Formation in Pulaski Township, Lawrence County and Shenango Township, Mercer County.
Under the Oil and Gas Conservation Law of 1961, when a spacing order application is submitted, an administrative hearing must be held prior to entering an order establishing well spacing and drilling units.
Last week, DEP submitted a request for an additional public input opportunity on Hilcorp’s application for all interested persons. The proposal was submitted to the assigned hearing officer, who is responsible for determining the hearing process and issuing a recommended decision on the application.
The hearing officer released his official order on the hearing process and procedure yesterday, determining that the hearing will consist of two hearing sessions — an administrative hearing and an additional public hearing.
The first hearing session will be an administrative hearing, accepting testimony much like a trial, on the spacing order application from DEP, Hilcorp and all property owners and operators in the area subject to the order.
The first hearing session will take place on the originally scheduled dates of March 25 and 26, but at the request of DEP, has been moved to larger room to accommodate more people from the general public. The administrative hearing will be held at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively, in the Assembly Room of Albert P. Gettings Government Center Annex of the Lawrence County Government Center, 439 Countyline St., New Castle.
As requested by DEP, anyone from the general public will have the opportunity to provide input about the application at a second hearing session. Comments received during this additional public hearing also will be considered by the hearing officer prior to making a recommended decision on Hilcorp’s application.
A date and time for the second, additional hearing has yet to be determined.
DEP has submitted an updated public notice to be published in local newspapers, detailing the hearing officer’s order. Although not required by statute, DEP also will send a second round of letters to the more than 200 property owners in the area covered by Hilcorp’s application with updated hearing session information.
To view the hearing officer’s official order or for more information about Hilcorp’s application, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on “Oil and Gas,” “Office of Oil and Gas Management” and then “Conservation Law.”
Pennsylvanians looking for more information should call 717-772-2199.