PA DEP Finalizes Onerous New Drilling Regs, Industry Opposes

fireworksMajor changes are on the way for Pennsylvania’s conventional (vertical) and unconventional (shale/horizontal) drillers. In 2011 PA began a process that’s gone on way too long, to update certain regulations that apply to oil and gas drillers known as Chapter 78 of the 1984 Oil and Gas Act. Along the way the PA legislature decided there should be separate rules governing conventional and unconventional drilling–so Chapter 78 has become Chapter 78 (conventional) and 78a (unconventional). PA was close to adopting the new rules at the end of the Tom Corbett administration but then he lost his bid for re-election, throwing the process into turmoil once again with newly elected Tom Wolf and his PennFuture buddies wanting to put their own stamp on drilling regulations in the Keystone State (see PA DEP Sec Quigley Pulls a Fast One, Changes Drilling Rules). Yesterday the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) released the final draft version for both Chapter 78 and 78a (copy below). Last week the group that will consider this new draft for conventional drilling, the Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee (COGAC), preemptively said they would vote against adopting the draft (see PA DEP Sec Quigley’s Own Committee Appointees Turn Against Him). PennFuture DEP Sec. Quigley said, “COGAC’s opposition will not hinder the progress of the final rule, and I hope when they meet in August that they are prepared to engage with us as we finalize the rule.” In other words: “Screw you, I’ll do what I want to do anyway.” We predict fireworks at the COGAC meeting on August 27 in Harrisburg…

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