In one week the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) will be voting on Final Rulemaking from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to implement a series of critical improvements to Pennsylvania’s oil and gas regulations. This rulemaking, which has been in development for over four years, is in the final stages of the approval process. But first it must be approved by the EQB.
Interests opposed to the rulemaking have characterized it as unnecessary, or developed through a process that failed to properly account for industry perspective. Neither of these accusations are even remotely true.
With respect to the process, the final rulemaking stands on the most extensive and inclusive public process in modern environmental history. The outreach and consideration performed by DEP is outlined in great detail in its Executive Summary to final rulemaking. It is clear, by the timeline and actions described, that there has been unprecedented inclusion of perspectives in this process.
The characterization of the rulemaking as unnecessary ignores a range of critical improvements this proposal will make to state regulation. Some of these improvements include:
- Establishing Stronger Protections for Landowners Whose Drinking Water or Property is Impacted by Oil and Gas Activities.
- Requiring Greater Preventive Controls on Well Sites to Avoid Migration of Hazardous Materials.
- Having Well Operators Perform More Robust Pre-Drilling Analysis to Ensure that Drilling Does Not Pose a Risk to Neighboring Landowners or the Environment.
- Providing More Information to the Public about the Materials Used in Drilling Operations, and Where – and How Much – Waste is Being Disposed of On Site or at a Disposal Facility.
- Greater Protection of Water Resources Used by Operators to Perform Hydraulic Fracturing.
These are only a few of the many vital protections added to the state’s oversight responsibilities. Any objective observer would consider these protections essential to the “social license to operate” high volume resource extraction.
While we have, and will continue to advocate for, stronger protections, we believe the citizens of the Commonwealth are far better served having this rulemaking in place and enforced as soon as possible. While continuous improvement should always be the goal, that goal is predicated on actual implementation of those improvements.
PEC strongly supports the Final Rulemaking; our letter to the EQB is included below.
The meeting will be held on Feb. 3 in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson Building in Harrisburg starting at 9 a.m. Click Here to watch the meeting online.
Copies of the regulation changes and other related documents are available at the Environmental Quality Board meeting webpage.
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