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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.


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