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August 27, 2013

PADEP Proposes New Oil/Gas Surface Activity Regulations

Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) announced that the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) has approved proposed regulations addressing surface activities related to oil and gas well development.  The proposed regulations represent the first comprehensive update and strengthening of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas laws in almost three decades and further the tasks assigned to the PADEP under Act 13. Based on significant input from statewide environmental organizations, local government groups, residents living near well sites and industry representatives, the draft regulations include provisions further enhancing the consideration of impacts to public resources, such as parks and wildlife areas; the prevention of spills; the management of waste; and the restoration of well sites after drilling.  In addition, they include standards affecting the construction of gathering lines and temporary pipelines, and include provisions for identifying and monitoring abandoned wells close to well sites. According to Acting PADEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo, “[t]hrough Gov. Corbett’s leadership, Pennsylvania is proving that economic opportunity does not have to occur at the expense of environmental stewardship.  We are working hard to ensure that natural gas development is done according to the high and consistent standards Pennsylvanians expect.” The draft regulations will be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of General Counsel.  After review by these offices, the comment period will be opened and the public invited to submit written comments to the EQB.  PADEP has recommended that the public comment period be increased from the typical 30-day timeframe and one public hearing to a 60-day comment period with at least six public hearings across the state. The proposed regulations can be found at: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/public_resources/20303/surface_regulations/1587188

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