EXPLAINER | DEP: The Department That Regulates and Oversees Drilling
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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 Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

 

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An abandoned well from the early 1900's spews oil into the Tamarack Swamp.

FILE PHOTO: Cheswick Generating Station in Springdale, Pa.

With policy change, nearly a third of Pennsylvanians live in ‘environmental justice’ areas

Applications for certain things in environmental justice areas — like landfills or coal mines — are on a “trigger permit list” and get more scrutiny from the state Department of Environmental Protection. 

By Marie Cusick

In the distance, construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline at Raystown Lake Recreation Area in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

Mariner East 2 pipeline spill prompting underwater inspection, ‘no wake zone’ at Raystown Lake

Sunoco spilled 25-30 gallons of drilling fluid into Raystown Lake in December, and divers are now assessing impacts to the lake bottom.

By Marie Cusick

An environmental cleanup crew works to remove fuel from a spill in Darby Creek in Tinicum Township, Pennsylvania, near the Philadelphia International Airport.

Sunoco’s stand-in ME2 line leaked gasoline at Darby Creek, pipeline map indicates

Mapping data and Sunoco’s statements point to a 12-inch pipeline that would allow the company to fulfill customers’ orders for natural gas liquids while construction of the long-delayed Mariner East 2 pipeline is being completed.

By Jon Hurdle

A Mariner East 2 construction site in rural Pennsylvania. The Public Utility Commission lifted a ban  on construction of a valve, removing one obstacle to completion of the troubled project.

At Lebanon County’s Snitz Creek, another Mariner East drilling spill and another DEP violation

Many of the spills are small, but pipeline opponents say their frequency indicates Sunoco shouldn’t be drilling there. The Department of Environmental Protection ordered that a geologist take another look at the area.

By Jon Hurdle

Workers and contractors for Sunoco Pipeline have been investigating sink holes behind homes at Lisa Drive, West Whiteland Township, Chester County where the company has been drilling for construction of the Mariner East 2 and 2X pipelines. The company offered to relocate residents of the five homes whose yards are crossed by the pipeline right of way.

Suit accuses Sunoco of violating federal Clean Water Act

Even though the oil and gas industry is exempt from obtaining the permits – unlike other kinds of industrial construction such as powerlines — that exemption disappears when a water violation occurs, argued Aaron Stemplewicz, senior attorney for DRN.

By Jon Hurdle

FILE PHOTO: Shell flared off natural gas for three months in 2012, to alleviate subsurface pressure in Union Township, Tioga County, where one of its drilling sites got too close to an abandoned well

Wolf administration, two years after climate pledge: ‘no specific timeline’ on methane regulations

New requirements for oil and gas industry don't affect thousands of existing wells
By Marie Cusick

A Marcellus shale gas well in Washington County, Pa.

Pennsylvania, for first time, sets methane requirements on natural gas wells

Pennsylvania moved to regulate the greenhouse gas as the Trump administration tries to roll back federal methane rules. The state permits apply to new and modified wells and related compressor stations, but not to the state’s 11,000 existing Marcellus shale gas wells.

By Reid Frazier

An unconventional drilling site is prepared in Butler County, Pennsylvania in the winter of 2014.
Updated: May 31, 2018 | 4:48 pm

Study finds health threats from oil and gas wastewater spread on roads

Pennsylvania has ended what had become common practice for municipalities that wanted to suppress dust on unpaved roads. A study found that some chemicals wash away during rain — and that when the road dries, contaminants can get into the air.

By Reid Frazier

Mariner East 2 pipeline construction crews work in the backyards of homes on Lisa Drive in West Whiteland Township, Chester County, on May 2, after sinkholes opened in the area. That caused one of the ME2 project's many delays.
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