DEP releases latest revisions of oil, gas rulemaking

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced the draft final revisions to the Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites rulemaking.

This revision continues DEP’s commitment to modernizing and strengthening the environmental controls employed by both the conventional and unconventional industries to assure the protection of public health, safety, and the environment.

“Responsible energy development in Pennsylvania is key to the commonwealth’s future,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley. “We are committed to protecting our natural resources, and these rules strengthen safeguards for our water and environment.”

“These rules are the culmination of one of the largest public participation efforts the department has ever seen, with nearly 30,000 comments and 12 public hearings during two public comment periods,” said Quigley.

The amendments to the oil and gas regulations began in 2011 to address surface activities at well sites, and center on five core areas. The amendments:

• Improve protection of water resources
• Add public resources considerations
• Protect public health and safety
• Address landowner concerns
• Enhance transparency and improve data management

“We asked the people of Pennsylvania for their concerns about developing oil and gas resources in the commonwealth, and they answered,” said Quigley. “These amendments reflect a balance between meeting the needs of the industry and the needs of public health and the environment; all while enabling drilling to proceed.”

After the latest round of public comment, two significant changes were made. DEP decided not to include the provisions for noise mitigation and centralized storage tanks for wastewater in the final regulations. Because of the complex nature of noise mitigation, it was determined that a separate process is more appropriate to address those concerns. In terms of centralized storage tanks, the department decided to remove this provision because these facilities will continue to be regulated under the residual waste regulations.

In addition, changes were made in this latest draft to address comments received and add clarity.

The amendments will be discussed at the upcoming meetings of the Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee (COGAC) and, Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board (TAB) in late August and early September, respectively. DEP will be working with these advisory committees to ensure the amendments are technically sound.

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