DEP Will Limit Expedited Permits for Gas Drillers
The Department of Environmental Protection has reversed a policy implemented in 2008, that fast tracked sediment and erosion permits for drillers. In 2009, the DEP went further and limited the role of local conservation district officials. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation appealed a number of these expedited permits to the Environmental Hearing Board.
On Friday, the DEP announced a settlement with the environmental group, opening their proposals to public comment. No expedited permits will be issued to any drill pad proposed for a flood plain, or any that would drain into an exceptional-value or high-quality value watershed.
“Our biggest concerns have been drill rigs constructed in floodplains, and drilling near our most pristine waterways,” said CBF’s Matt Ehrhart in a release. “Floodplains, by their nature, can flood. We felt that the expedited review process should not be available in these locations because of the potential for downstream contamination.”
The DEP will accept comments on the new proposals until March 21, 2012.