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.

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

Task force debates pipeline recommendations

At a recent press conference, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley joked with reporters that he’d assembled “the world’s largest committee” to try to deal with the state’s building boom of natural gas pipelines. He was in a decidedly less jovial mood Wednesday as he tried to corral the 48-member group. Quigley didn’t want them [...]

Coal pleads its case against the Clean Power Plan to state lawmakers

Things were already pretty bad for Pennsylvania’s coal industry, and the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan will make things worse. That’s the message from industry to a joint hearing of the state’s House and Senate coal caucuses on Tuesday. “We talk about the perfect storm, what we are in the midst of is the perfect [...]

Pipeline Task Force report as massive as scale of expected buildout

Updated with comments from DEP Secretary John Quigley The number of additional gas pipelines projected for Pennsylvania in coming years was always impressive, and now the number of proposals for how to manage them is equally striking. Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force has produced no fewer than 184 sets of ideas for how [...]

Environmental agencies feel pinch, as budget impasse drags on

The two state agencies overseeing Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry say the ongoing budget impasse in Harrisburg is not adversely affecting the “critical” parts of their missions. But other bills are going unpaid and meetings are being postponed. “Our vendors are feeling the pinch,” Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley tells StateImpact. “Landlords from whom we rent space [...]

DEP advances new drilling regulations

Pennsylvania’s newly proposed oil and gas drilling rules have been written and re-written for the past four years. They’re now one step closer to being finalized. “This is our near-final rule-making,” says Kurt Klapowski, Director of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management at the state Department of Environmental Protection. “It’s been a monumental effort from [...]

Pennsylvania study finds link between gas drilling and premature births

Women are more likely to have premature babies and high-risk pregnancies the more they are exposed to unconventional natural gas development, according to a new study based on more than 10,000 babies born in the shale-gas region of Pennsylvania. The study, released by Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health on Thursday, found that [...]

DEP hears differing views on EPA climate plan

State regulators heard comments on how quickly it should address the EPA’s plan to curb carbon emissions Monday night in Pittsburgh. Around 100 people came to a DEP listening session where more than three dozen speakers discussed the economic benefits of energy efficiency, the health effects of air pollution, and whether cutting carbon will hurt [...]

Pennsylvania holds its first ‘listening session’ on Clean Power Plan

Friends and foes of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants welcomed or deplored the proposal, and sparred over how or whether Pennsylvania should implement it, at the state’s first “listening session” on the program on Tuesday. Twenty-seven speakers representing interests ranging from job creation to clean air, building [...]

DEP seeks public input for drafting Clean Power Plan

Pennsylvania’s environmental regulators say they need extensive public input before putting together a plan to reduce carbon emissions. The call for comments comes on the heels of the recent federal mandate that states reduce climate-warming carbon dioxide from power plants. Last month, the EPA announced standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by [...]

DEP delays deep injection well decisions

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has delayed decisions on controversial deep injection well permits, while waiting for rulings from the federal courts. The siting of the deep injection wells became federal cases after local municipalities passed ordinances to ban the drilling waste disposal wells. It’s the first time DEP has taken such a position and [...]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »