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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

Man injured after pipeline explodes near his home in western Pa.

A man has been taken to the hospital with serious burns after a 30-inch interstate natural gas transmission pipeline exploded next to his home in Westmoreland County. About a dozen homes have been evacuated and a quarter mile evacuation zone remains in place. Video from the scene shows a raging fire lighting up the early [...]

DEP to expand air quality monitoring for natural gas sites

State environmental regulators are planning a major expansion of air quality monitoring, which will be focused on Marcellus Shale natural gas infrastructure. “We heard the concerns of shalefield residents, and we are responding,” John Quigley, head of the state Department of Environmental Protection said in a teleconference announcement Wednesday. “We have been looking at the [...]

State commission OK’s new oil and gas regulations

A state commission has signed off on significant changes to rules governing Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry. The approval signals a final step in an often contentious, five-year effort by the Department of Environmental Protection to modernize drilling regulations. After a seven-hour public meeting Thursday, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) voted 3-2 to give [...]

Senate panel weighs permitting process and economic growth

One of the chief complaints from Pennsylvania’s top environmental regulator, John Quigley, is that he doesn’t have enough staff and resources. At a state senate hearing Monday on economic development and permitting, he repeated it. “We have 671 fewer positions than we did 7 years ago,” Quigley told lawmakers. “Inadequate staff and technology hamper the agency’s [...]

Public health campaigners renew call for fracking health registry

Updating with comment from Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project Pennsylvania public health campaigners have issued a new call for the establishment of a statewide registry of health complaints that could be related to oil and gas development. Such a registry would help doctors and nurses identify patterns of health complaints by people living near sites [...]

Drilling slowdown to leave regulators with $2.9 million deficit

Pennsylvania is facing a $2.9 million deficit in the fund that supports its oversight of oil and gas wells in the next fiscal year, according to a projection from Governor Tom Wolf’s budget office. The overall slowdown in drilling means less money is available in fines and fees for the Well Plugging Fund, which supports things [...]

DEP to abandon controversial permits for recycling drilling waste

State environmental regulators say they won’t renew a set of controversial research and development permits that allows gas drilling waste to be reused on construction sites. Proponents say it’s a way to recycle the waste and keep it out of landfills. Critics argue the permits have been used to avoid regulations. In 2014 Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale [...]

Wolf administration criticized for new limits on filling vacant jobs

Last month Governor Tom Wolf’s administration quietly imposed a temporary hold on filling hundreds of vacant state jobs, including nearly 200 at the Department of Environmental Protection. The administration says the move was necessary in the wake of Pennsylvania’s unprecedented budget impasse, which failed to fully fund government operations. But critics argue the decision lacks transparency and [...]

DEP wants upgrades: ‘We do not have Wi-Fi’

Throughout Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom, state environmental regulators have been behind-the-times when it comes to technology. As head of the state Department of Environmental Protection, Secretary John Quigley often complains that gas workers get to carry iPads in the field, while his staff is stuck with paper and clipboards. One of his top priorities is to [...]

Chesapeake Energy pulls up stakes in PA and Ohio

Chesapeake Energy, one of the state’s largest gas producers with more than 800 active wells in Bradford and Susquehanna counties, has stopped drilling new wells in both the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays. The Oklahoma based oil and gas producer, which also operates in Texas, Louisiana and Wyoming, announced Wednesday a net loss of $14.8 billion in [...]

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