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DEP: The Department That Regulates and Oversees Drilling

Background

Regulating natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation is one of many duties charged to the Department of Environmental Protection.

DEP is responsible for enforcing the state’s Oil and Gas Act, as well as state regulations on drinking water quality, air quality and the environmental health of rivers and streams.

DEP divides the state into six regions, and operates 19 district offices.

The department’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Management employs about 80 well inspectors, who are funded through drilling permitting fees.  A proposed – but quickly scuttled – change in regulatory policy raised the ire of drilling opponents in early 2011. A leaked internal memo directed regional offices to forward notices of violation for drillers to the Harrisburg office for final approval. DEP officials quickly backtracked, calling the change a “pilot program,” and then scrapping it altogether.

The DEP is now headed by Acting Secretary John Quigley, who previously served as Secretary for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in Governor Ed Rendell’s administration.

 

Latest Posts

Changes at DEP could delay new oil and gas rules

Long awaited changes to the state’s oil and gas rules may run into some snags with new faces in Harrisburg. But DEP secretary for oil and gas, Scott Perry, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that missing the March 2016 deadline to upgrade regulations would be a “failure.” The state’s new oil and gas law, known as [...]

Commonwealth Court rejects appeal on state forest leasing

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court rejected an appeal by the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation on Tuesday regarding drilling in state forests. The Court issued its original ruling last month in a case filed by the environmental law firm, which challenged the leasing of public land to natural gas drillers. In an en band decision on January 7, the [...]

Range to pay $1.75M to settle water withdrawal violations it reported to DEP

One of the state’s biggest gas drillers has agreed to pay a $1.75 million settlement with the Department of Environmental Protection for failing to keep records of its withdrawals from waterways in Southwest Pennsylvania for more than five years. According to the DEP, Range Resources brought these violations to the agency’s attention. “We obviously want [...]

Study: Radioactive gas drilling waste not a threat to public health

A Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection study looking at radiation exposure from oil and gas development says there is “little potential for harm to workers or the public.” DEP released the peer-reviewed report Thursday, which Governor Corbett initiated in January 2013. DEP hired PermaFix, an Atlanta-based company that specializes in nuclear and industrial waste disposal, [...]

Wolf picks former Rendell appointees for top environmental posts

Governor-elect Tom Wolf has announced his picks for the state’s two top environmental posts. Both nominees will be heavily involved in overseeing Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale industry and have extensive backgrounds in environmental causes and government. Wolf nominated John Quigley to head the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP.) He previously served as Department of Conservation and [...]

Report: Quigley, Dunn to head environmental agencies under Wolf

Pennsylvania’s Governor-elect Tom Wolf continues filling his cabinet with former Rendell-era staffers. Sources tell the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Wolf will name John Quigley as his Department of Environmental Protection secretary and Cindy Dunn to lead the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. More from the Post-Gazette: The official announcements of those nominations could come as soon as [...]

Feds approve Pennsylvania’s water quality report

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given its approval to Pennsylvania’s water quality monitoring assessment. The bi-annual report is required under the federal Clean Water Act. Pennsylvania has six major river basins within its borders. The 2014 report includes two major changes to river listings: the Monongahela River, which was listed as impaired for potable [...]

StateImpact Pennsylvania’s most popular web stories of 2014

Web traffic can be unpredictable. Sometimes a great story doesn’t get a lot of clicks. Other times, breaking news or a popular search term suddenly attracts tons of traffic. As we look back on 2014, it’s clear we got a lot of clicks, comments, and reactions from you– our online readers. We’ve crunched the numbers, and [...]

2014: DEP stepped up enforcement of industry with hefty fines

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection ended the year with some pretty large lumps of coal for a few misbehaving natural gas drillers. And those penalties contrast sharply with previous years. In September, the DEP issued a $4.1 million dollar fine against driller Range Resources – the highest penalty it has levied against a driller. The agency [...]

DEP reaches $800,000 settlement with pipeline company

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced an $800,000 settlement today with Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, for multiple violations of Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law. The incidents took place in four north-central Pennsylvania counties during 2011 and 2012. The company has agreed to pay a  $210,000 penalty and fund a $540,000 clean-up program of illegal [...]

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