Development of the Marcellus Shale is overseen by the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Office of Oil and Gas Management. In order to drill a well, an operator must first obtain a well permit as well as fulfill a financial incentive to ensure all essential operations are performed to maintain the safety and integrity of the well. During the permit application process, the applicant must show the location of the well as well as its distance from coal seams, surface waters and/or water supplies. DEP staff reviews the application and approves the final location of the well site before any drilling takes place. If the well site is approved and drilling happens there, operators are required to submit extensive reports on well completion, waste management, semi-annual production and well plugging, which is required once a well stops producing. All operators are required to case and cement wells before drilling and restore the site once the well is completed. DEP staff also conduct on-site inspections and investigate complaints from the public.
For interested landowners and municipalities, DEP has a free online service that sends a notification when the agency receives a permit application for any area(s) the landowner/municipality chooses.