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Board approves state's new oil and gas regulations

A view of active fracking operations in Susquehanna County.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

A view of active fracking operations in Susquehanna County.

The state has moved one step closer to finalizing new oil and gas regulations. The Environmental Quality Board voted Wednesday to approve the Department of Environmental Protection’s updates to Chapter 78 and 78A, the regulations that oversee everything from permitting wells to waste handling and restoration. A majority of the Board (15-4) approved the proposal despite opposition from some lawmakers and even two of DEP’s own advisory boards. The new rules are the first comprehensive updates to oil and gas regulations since drilling in the Marcellus Shale began.
Several lawmakers offered amendments, but all were rejected by the Board. The proposals result from a four-year process following the 2012 legislative overhaul of the state’s oil and gas law known as Act 13. The proposals garnered nearly 30,000 public comments to DEP.  The new rules have irked both environmental groups and industry, which view the regulations as either too timid, or too far-reaching.
DEP Secretary John Quigley defended the new rules.
“These updated rules are long overdue and it’s time to get them across the finish line for the protection of public health, for industry certainty, and for the protection of our state’s environment,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley. “The changes are incremental, balanced, and appropriate, and are the result of one of the most transparent and engaged public processes in the history of the agency.”
The proposed rules will now be reviewed by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the House and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committees.

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