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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

Wolf Administration announces members of new pipeline task force

Governor Wolf has announced members of the state’s new Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force, which will be led by DEP Secretary John Quigley. The 48-member body was chosen from an applicant pool of about 200 people. An additional 101 people will serve on working groups that will help inform the task force, according to a press [...]

Budget bill would block new rules for conventional drillers

Environmentalists are raising alarms over language slipped into a budget bill that would prevent the state Department of Environmental Protection from establishing its new draft rules on conventional oil and gas drillers. “It’s very sneaky. It’s a dangerous pathway to go down,” says Matt Stepp, policy director for the environmental group PennFuture. “This would actually stop [...]

Fracking health complaints received little follow-up from the Department of Health

Newly released documents from the Pennsylvania Department of Health on fracking-related health complaints reveal a lack of follow-through and inaccurate record-keeping. The telephone logs, which span four years from 2011 to 2015, were gained through a Right-to-Know request by the environmental group Food and Water Watch. The documents include about 87 separate complaints from residents [...]

DEP issues permits to Shell for possible ethane cracker

Shell Chemical moved a step closer to the possible construction of a major petrochemical plant in western Pennsylvania on Friday when it received four permits for air quality and water management from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Four years after announcing it was considering building the multi-billion-dollar plant in Beaver County about 25 miles [...]

DEP plans new fracking chemical disclosure site, promises more transparency

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection is developing several tools to make information on natural gas drilling more accessible to the public. This includes a new fracking chemical disclosure site, a web portal for information on each natural gas well, and opportunities for the public to comment on proposed DEP policies. DEP Secretary John Quigley says [...]

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 [...]

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