PEC and Partners Submit Comments on Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites

Contact: Alex Oltmanns
Date: May 21, 2015
Phone: (412) 481-9400
Email: [email protected]

Pittsburgh – This week, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), along with several partner organizations, submitted comments on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s  proposed regulatory changes for Marcellus and other unconventional shale gas development. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Pennsylvania Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy were also signatories to the comment document.

The comments reflected both praise for recent environmental protection improvements to the proposed rulemaking, as well as suggestions for additional measures that are still needed.

“These regulations are long-overdue and will, eventually, enact provisions of Act 13 that was signed into law almost three-and-a-half years ago,” PEC President and CEO Davitt Woodwell said. “We are looking forward to getting them into place and continuing to address other pressing concerns with shale gas development, especially control of methane leakage and standards for pipeline development.”

The proposed rulemaking is a significant step forward from the previous version published in December of 2013. PEC commended the Department on taking several steps forward, notably, requiring drillers to more proactively prevent migration of drilling fluids and gas to groundwater. This is a priority issue for Pennsylvania, where the state has over 300,000 active and abandoned wells that can act like straws to pull contaminants toward the surface. The rulemaking also calls for the elimination of impoundment storage pits at well sites, coupled with more robust containment standards. This will greatly reduce not only the short-term chances of contamination, but also a potential long-term legacy of environmental impact. PEC also applauded the Department on enhanced analysis and precautions for water sourcing and use, additional protections for public resources and features, and many others.

In addition to the requirements set forth in the revised rulemaking proposal, PEC also believes that the Department should improve the containment and inspection requirements for water and waste storage, develop clear standards for noise reduction, expand the list of protected public resources, and enhance and clarify a number of critical terms within the rulemaking.

PEC’s entire comments can be found here.

About the Pennsylvania Environmental Council

Founded in 1970, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council is the leading environmental organization in the state, and was instrumental in the passage of nearly every major piece of legislation and regulatory initiative affecting clean air, clean water, land use and conservation, hazardous materials, and other major public policy actions since that time. Today, the organization is heavily engaged in a number of critical initiatives surrounding the development of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, trail and green space development, green energy and climate change programs, water quality, and watershed protection projects.

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