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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 seeks record fine of $8.9 million from Range Resources

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced a record fine today against the Texas-based Range Resources, which the agency says has failed to fix a gas well that polluted groundwater and a stream in Lycoming County. The DEP announced Tuesday that it will assess an $8.9 million fine against Range for refusing to fix the [...]

Panel moves Quigley nomination to full senate, without recommendation

A panel of state senators declined Tuesday to endorse Governor Wolf’s pick to head the state Department of Environmental Protection. Without the committee’s official approval or disapproval, acting secretary John Quigley’s nomination now heads to the full senate. The official word from the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee was “no recommendation,” but the Republican chair, [...]

FracFocus upgrades availability of data on oil & gas operations

A national project that collects and disseminates data about hydraulically fracked U.S. oil and gas wells raised its game on Friday by making the information available in aggregate form for anyone to download. FracFocus, which draws data from most states, including Pennsylvania, that host unconventional oil and gas development, has been gathering information such as [...]

Shell’s cracker air emissions plan gets hearing

Note: This story is from The Allegheny Front, a public radio program covering environmental issues in Western Pennsylvania.  The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) heard from the public Tuesday on the impacts Shell’s proposed ethane cracker in Western Pennsylvania would have on air quality and the local economy. Before a crowd of more than 100 [...]

State hears comments on new fracking regulations

Note: This story is from The Allegheny Front, a public radio program covering environmental issues in Western Pennsylvania.  The Wolf administration heard for the first time public comment on its newer, tougher proposed rules for the fracking industry. More than 70 speakers were signed up to speak at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) hearing in [...]

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, [...]

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