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DEP: The Department That Regulates and Oversees Drilling

Background

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.

The department’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Management employs about 80 well inspectors, who are funded through drilling permitting fees.  A proposed – but quickly scuttled – change in regulatory policy raised the ire of drilling opponents in early 2011. A leaked internal memo directed regional offices to forward notices of violation for drillers to the Harrisburg office for final approval. DEP officials quickly backtracked, calling the change a “pilot program,” and then scrapping it altogether.

The DEP is now headed by Acting Secretary John Quigley, who previously served as Secretary for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in Governor Ed Rendell’s administration.

 

Latest Posts

DEP rejects industry pressure to remove some members from oil & gas board

The Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday rejected a call by the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association for the removal of four non-voting members from a board that advises officials on oil and gas policy. Elizabeth Nolan, an attorney for the DEP, said there were no grounds to dismiss the four members, who have [...]

Air pollution increases at Pennsylvania’s natural gas sites

Sulfur dioxide emissions jumped 57 percent from 2012 to 2013 at the state’s natural gas production sites, according to data released today by the Department of Environmental Protection. Sulfur dioxide contributes to acid rain, and causes respiratory problems including asthma.  Other air pollutants that contribute to public health impacts also increased. These jumps in emissions [...]

DEP to hold public hearings on new drilling regulations

The state Department of Environmental Protection has scheduled three hearings for the public to weigh in on proposed changes to regulations for the oil and gas industry. Since 2011, the DEP has been revising its Chapter 78 regulations, which govern drilling. The draft rules have gone through a number of changes. Most recently, after Governor [...]

Industry group considers legal action over new drilling rules

A trade group representing the state’s oil and gas industry is considering taking the Wolf administration to court over the way it’s handling proposed changes to drilling regulations. “We want to hear facts and science, but we’re seeing disrespect for the law in many ways,” says Kevin Moody of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association [...]

New study raises possible link between gas drilling and radon levels

Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY A drill worker covered in mud, shale, and drill cuttings seals off a well and cleans the blowout preventer at a Cabot Oil & Gas natural gas drill site in Kingsley, Pa. Radon levels in buildings near unconventional natural gas development in Pennsylvania are higher than those in other areas of the state, [...]

DEP releases drilling regulations for public comment

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. [...]

Regulators outpaced by gas industry waste, report says

Pennsylvania’s environmental regulators are failing to keep pace with a growing volume of liquid and solid waste generated by the natural gas industry, and are allowing risky practices like open-air waste storage to continue, according to a study issued on Thursday. The report by Earthworks, a nonprofit that highlights the adverse effects of mineral and [...]

Marcellus Shale drillers to begin monthly gas production reporting

Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale drillers will begin filing monthly production reports next week, to comply with a new law enacted last fall. Monthly production reports bring Pennsylvania in line with other major gas-producing states. The data was previously collected by the state Department of Environmental Protection twice a year. Transparency around gas production data has become [...]

Quigley responds to criticism over new drilling regulations

Governor Wolf’s pick to head the state Department of Environmental Protection is defending the way the agency has handled proposed changes to gas drilling regulations. At a public meeting last week, representatives from the state’s Marcellus Shale industry sharply criticized the agency and suggested the Wolf administration illegally appointed non-voting members to its newly formed Oil [...]

Gas industry slams DEP over new drilling rules

Representatives from the state’s Marcellus Shale industry are criticizing the way the Wolf administration has handled proposed changes to drilling regulations. At a meeting of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board (TAB) Friday, industry groups questioned the level of transparency around new draft rules. Kevin Moody, of the Pennsylvania Independent [...]

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