Pa. Oil and Gas Regulations Again Lauded by National Independent Board

A recently released report brings “more of the same” good news to Pennsylvanians that safe shale development in the commonwealth is, indeed, overseen by some of the nation’s toughest regulations. The State Review of Oil & Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER) – a national non-profit organization dedicated to assessing states’ regulations and assisting in strengthening them – determined that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Oil and Gas program is “well-managed, professional and meeting its program objectives.”

The 203-page review – undertaken by a broad range of stakeholders and experts – is the organization’s fifth report on Pennsylvania’s program since 1992 and the second since shale development began in earnest across the state. A September 2010 STRONGER report called Pennsylvania’s hydraulic fracturing regulations among the nation’s most stringent.

This from the Associated Press:

  • Katy Dunlap, an Eastern water project director for Trout Unlimited, said DEP should be commended for strengthening some regulations in response to the shale gas drilling boom.
  • “The DEP should be quite pleased with the result,” said Andrew Paterson, a technical and regulatory vice president with the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Here are key excerpts from STRONGER’s report highlighting Pennsylvania’s effective regulatory framework:

  • The review team commends DEP for increasing its staff levels to address additional permitting, inspection and enforcement activities related to increased unconventional gas well development. Over the past four years, as unconventional gas well development has increased in Pennsylvania, the Office of Oil and Gas Management has increased its staff from 64 to 202 employees.
  • DEP is commended for initiating a comprehensive evaluation of radiation levels specifically associated with unconventional gas development. This TENORM study is the first of its kind in the nation.
  • DEP is commended for its hydraulic fracturing program. Standards for well casing and cementing require that the operator conduct those activities to control the well at all times; prevent migration of gas or other fluids into sources of fresh groundwater; and prevent pollution of fresh groundwater.

For more information about the MSC’s work, please check out our Recommended Practices, which focus on environmental protection and public safety. And be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!