Energy. Environment. Economy.



DEP: The Department That Regulates and Oversees Drilling


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. It is currently headed by Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell.


Latest Posts

Consultant’s report endorses safety of Mariner East 2; critics unmoved

Public debate over the safety of the proposed Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline was fueled with the publication of a consultant’s report endorsing Sunoco Logistics‘ plans on one section of the line in Chester County, while critics said the report failed to address what could happen if there was a leak. The report by [...]

Under proposal, DEP would lose control of revenue from drilling penalties

A Republican state senator wants the legislature, rather than state environmental regulators, to control the money generated by oil and gas violations in Pennsylvania. Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R- Venango) recently sent out a co-sponsorship memo seeking support for new legislation. He sees it as a separation of powers issue. “Traditional legislative powers have drifted toward the [...]

Town declarations highlight public-safety worries over Mariner East 2

Some communities in Philadelphia’s western suburbs are reflecting public concerns over the proposed Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline by issuing official statements saying that the $2.5 billion line could endanger public safety. Eight townships or boroughs along or close to the route in Delaware and Chester Counties have published resolutions or proclamations as [...]

DEP revising erosion and sediment control permits for oil and gas

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is updating the way it handles erosion and sediment control permits related to oil and gas development. A recent internal audit by the department raises questions about the efficacy of its expedited permit review process, which was established in 2012, and allows under certain conditions, a 14-business-day review for an [...]

DEP to launch statewide listening tour in early 2017

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection intends to launch a statewide listening tour early next year, focusing on environmental justice issues related to oil and gas development. Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell says department staff plan to visit every corner of the state. “We’re going into communities where we need to up our game on [...]

Shell proposes bargain to meet pollution targets for ethane cracker

On Thursday, activists asked state regulators to impose strict air and water pollution controls on Shell’s planned ethane cracker in Beaver County. They spoke at a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) hearing on the plant’s proposed air and water pollution permits. Shell’s plant would take natural gas from the surrounding region and create polyethylene, a [...]

Pa. environmental chief waiting to see what Trump administration will bring

Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell speaks at an event in the Capitol Rotunda in June.

President-elect Donald Trump is solidifying his cabinet, and he appears poised to reverse of many of the Obama administration’s energy and environmental initiatives—including its signature climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan. A lot of attention is now turning to how states and local governments will address climate change. Trump recently tapped Oklahoma Attorney General Scott [...]

DEP ignores concerned citizen, while discussing improving public outreach

Under Governor Tom Wolf, the state Department of Environmental Protection pledged to renew its focus on environmental justice. The idea is to protect marginalized communities, such as minorities and people in poverty, who often bear the brunt of industrial development. However, in a bizarre episode at a public meeting in Harrisburg Wednesday, two DEP advisory [...]

Energy Hub vision challenged by Rinaldi’s departure from PES

The Philadelphia Energy Hub, a grand idea that was always longer on rhetoric than reality, took another step back this week when its leading advocate said he will retire early next year as chief executive of the East Coast’s biggest refiner, Philadelphia Energy Solutions. Phil Rinaldi, dubbed “fossil Phil” by environmentalists for his aggressive promotion [...]

Rice Energy fined $3.5 million for wellsite and pipeline violations

State environmental regulators announced $3.5 million in penalties against gas driller Rice Energy, for violations related to its well sites and pipelines. The state Department of Environmental Protection says the issues spanned several years and included failures to secure proper permits, maintain erosion and sedimentation controls, and wastewater releases. “Minimizing the impacts that drilling activity [...]

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