DEP releases drilling regulations for public comment | StateImpact Pennsylvania

DEP releases drilling regulations for public comment

The DEP recently made changes to proposed regulations governing the  state's oil and gas industry.

The DEP recently made changes to proposed regulations governing the state's oil and gas industry.

The public has 45 days to weigh in on proposed changes to regulations governing Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has been revising the rules for the past four years. In December 2013, they became available for public comment. The agency held nine hearings across the state and received more than 24,000 comments.

Shortly after Governor Wolf took office, the DEP made a slew of significant changes– imposing more stringent rules for things like waste, noise, and streams. The agency is now releasing those updated regulations for a 45 day comment period, which closes on May 19th.

At a recent public meeting on the matter, DEP’s Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas, Scott Perry, said the department wants people to focus on the newly proposed changes, not the overall package of regulations.

“We want comments on things we’re proposing to change between December 2013 and now,” he said. “To the extent folks comment on things outside of that, we’ll acknowledge that but it won’t be given the same consideration.”

The gas industry has sharply criticized the DEP for its recent changes– arguing the Wolf administration has not been transparent. Several Republican lawmakers have also criticized the process. Earlier this week state Sen. Gene Yaw (R- Bradford) sent a letter to acting DEP secretary John Quigley, urging him to extend the public comment period to 75 days.

Responding to the criticism, acting DEP Secretary John Quigley announced Monday he would extend the public comment period from 30 to 45 days and hold three public hearings– two in the northern tier, and one in the southwest. Exact times and locations have not been announced yet.

“This oil and gas rulemaking will have a lasting impact on Pennsylvania’s people, environment, and energy economy,” Quigley said in a statement. “It is imperative that DEP goes the extra mile, takes that extra step, and puts in this additional work to modernize and strengthen these regulations.”

The DEP has until next spring to finalize the regulations, or risk starting the process all over again.

Read the proposed regulations for the unconventional industry here, and the conventional industry here.

A guide to reading proposed changes:

  • Words not in bold or underlined: existing regulations
  • Bold words: changes made in December 2013
  • {Bold words with brackets}: deletions proposed in December 2013
  • ALL CAPS: things that have changed between December 2013 and now

Note: this story was updated on 4/6/15. The state Department of Environmental Protection extended the public comment period and announced it will hold three public meetings.

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