HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) transmitted the final "Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites" rulemaking (Chapters 78 and 78a) to the state Environmental Quality Board (EQB) for review today. This step brings the rules closer to enactment, and 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.
DEP provided EQB with more than 2,800 pages of materials supporting the rulemaking, including the executive summary, the regulatory language, a fact sheet, the order, and regulatory analysis form. The package also includes the comment and response document, in which every one of the almost 28,000 comments were addressed by DEP. Taken together, the order, regulatory analysis form, and comment and response document provide the justification for the final-form rulemaking.
"These regulatory changes are balanced, incremental and appropriate; protecting public health while enabling responsible drilling to proceed," said DEP Secretary John Quigley. "These rules are a long time coming -- more than 4 years -- and were written with an unprecedented amount of public participation and transparency. We've worked hard to ensure that the health and safety of our citizens are protected, and the needs of industry are being met."
The amendments to the oil and gas regulations 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, and
- Enhance transparency and improve data management.
"It's important to emphasize the role of the public and stakeholders in this process. Across a dozen public hearings, two public comment periods that attracted almost 28,000 comments, and 20 meetings with the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board and Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee, this has been an exercise in transparency in rulemaking," said Quigley.
"These rules present a distinct, substantive separation of regulatory provisions applicable to conventional and unconventional wells. They will allow the oil and gas industries in Pennsylvania to continue to flourish, while adding additional common-sense environmental and public health safeguards," he added.
The rulemaking revisions are the first since 2001 to update surface impacts of drilling and production activity. The rulemaking package itself has been in development since 2011.
The Environmental Quality Board will now review the final-form rulemaking package, and once adopted will be reviewed by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
MEDIA CONTACT: Neil Shader, 717-787-1323
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection