HARRISBURG, Pa., April 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Independent Regulatory Review Council (IRRC) has approved revisions to Pennsylvania's oil and gas drilling regulations today, continuing on the process that modernizes and strengthens the "Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites" (Chapters 78 and 78A) rulemaking. The regulations amend the environmental controls employed by both the conventional and unconventional industries to assure the protection of public health, safety, and the environment.
"I am pleased that IRRC moved these important regulatory updates closer to the finish line. The Chapter 78 and 78A regulations have been written with an unprecedented amount of public participation, including from the conventional and unconventional drilling industries," said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary John Quigley. "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.
- Electronic filing: In order to more efficiently track well development and operations, and to provide better public access to drilling data, operators will be required to submit electronic forms rather than paper.
"These changes are the result of tens of thousands of comments from industry and Pennsylvania residents, and our experience with the industry. They represent a balanced and incremental approach," said Quigley.
The regulatory package will now be reviewed by the Legislature. After that, the regulations will be reviewed by the Attorney General's office before being published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection