Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved an update to the state’s oil and gas drilling rules Thursday, voting 3-2 on changes proposed by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are in the public interest.
The new rules have been under development for five years and include separate chapters for the state’s Marcellus Shale play operations and smaller, conventional oil and gas companies.
The regulations now face another challenge in the Legislature where energy committees in both the House and Senate are expected to try to block the rules from taking effect. If the Republican-controlled House and Senate pass the resolution, it could be vetoed by Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, who supports the regulations.
DEP Secretary John Quigley said he was pleased with the vote. “This validates five years’ worth of tremendous public service by a tremendous group of public servants,” he said. “This final regulatory package will improve protection of water resources, add public resources considerations, protect public health and safety, address landowner concerns, enhance transparency, and improve data management.”
Among the changes to the current regulations:
- Improved protections of public resources. Operators must provide notice if drilling would be near school property and playgrounds, parks, forests, and other public resources.
- Strengthened water supply restoration standards. If oil and gas development degrades a water supply, the operator must restore or replace the supply with one that meets Safe Drinking Water Act standards or is as good as pre-drilling conditions if the water supply was better than the Drinking Water Act standards.
“We have sought to provide constructive comments throughout this process; however, too often the reaction to these comments reflected a lack of understanding of our industry,” said Patrick Henderson, director of Regulatory Affairs for trade group the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
“As a result, we are faced with a final rule that, left unchanged, promises to discourage significantly the development of Pennsylvania’s natural gas resources; imposes massive new costs upon operators; provides little tangible environmental benefit; and further erodes Pennsylvania jobs and investment at a time of historic economic challenges within the industry,” according to Henderson.
This rule making fails to comply with the letter and the spirit of the laws enacted by our General Assembly. It threatens the very viability of hundreds of Pennsylvania businesses and thousands of Pennsylvania families, Henderson added.
The regulatory package will now be reviewed by the Pennsylvania Legislature. After that, the regulations will be reviewed by the state Attorney General’s office before being published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
We really need to support our local PA state representatives to combat the approval of many of these regulations.
Note: Read all of the Kallanish Commodities Energy News which is published daily online, www.kallanishenergy.com. Kallanish also publishes a daily newsletter, and will be happy to add your name to the distribution list. Simply email