New online tool will track oil and gas operations

  • Marie Cusick
A natural gas site in Susquehanna County.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

A natural gas site in Susquehanna County.

Pennsylvania has launched a new online tool to make it easier for the public to review documents submitted by the unconventional oil and gas industry. The change is part of a broader push from the Department of Environmental Protection to upgrade its technological capabilities. Last month, the agency’s oil and gas inspectors received iPads, after years using paper and clipboards.

The new electronic document submission tool allows the public to quickly search for documents related to oil and gas operations, including well records and waste reports. The department says 26 operators have already electronically filed close to 900 documents.

“Electronic oil and gas document submission is a critical step in making DEP permitting and monitoring more efficient and transparent,” DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement.

David Spigelmyer, president of the gas trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, welcomed the effort, saying it will enhance transparency.

“While this is a positive step forward, significant work is needed to ensure Pennsylvania’s permitting process provides much-needed consistency and predictability, which is critical to attracting job-creating investment,” he said in a statement. “We are fully committed to working with DEP toward those shared goals.”

The coalition is currently suing the Department of Environmental Protection over its implementation of new drilling regulations.

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