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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 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 [...]

Pipeline Task Force releases final report

Pennsylvania’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force issued its final 184 recommendations today in a 650-page document that includes 1500 public comments and is not substantially different from the draft version released in November. The report is an attempt to implement best practices when it comes to siting, permitting, environmental protection, safety, and community engagement. But the [...]

DEP offers more details on plans to curb methane leaks

State environmental regulators offered more details Thursday about the Wolf administration’s efforts to cut methane emissions from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry. Methane is the main component of natural gas, and it’s a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change. Speaking at a meeting of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Air Quality Technical Advisory [...]

Lack of data on fracking spills leaves researchers in the dark on water contamination

A recently published peer-review of the EPA’s fracking study criticized the agency for reaching conclusions in their draft report without adequately explaining the lack of data and research available, including information related to wastewater, chemical and fuel spills resulting from oil and gas production. The EPA’s Science Advisory Board, an independent group of scientists tasked [...]

DEP plans more monitoring to clamp down on methane leaks

Pennsylvania Department on Environmental Protection has announced plans to crack down on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry in ways that exceed new EPA standards. Calling climate change the “greatest environmental issue of our time” DEP secretary John Quigley says Pennsylvania should act as a national leader in curbing fugitive leaks of the [...]

House approves budget bill with controversial energy provisions

The Republican-controlled state House approved a budget bill Tuesday that has drawn criticism from Democrats and environmental groups over language that affects new oil and gas regulations and federal efforts to combat climate change. The fiscal code acts as a set of instructions, directing money for the overall state budget. Last month it was approved [...]

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