New PA Drilling Regs Closer to Reality, Questions Remain

questionIt has been a loooooong road to adopting new drilling regulations in Pennsylvania–for both conventional and unconventional (shale) oil and gas drilling. The process is rumored to have begun during the Jurassic Period, when dinosaurs were still dying to produce current oil and natural gas supplies, picking up steam following the 2012 Act 13 legislation that called for an update to drilling regs (under then Gov. Tom Corbett). More recently, with the prospect of starting the process over again for both shale and conventional regs, Gov. Tom Wolf cut a deal to accept “half a loaf”–accept new regs for the shale industry and start over again with conventional drilling regs (see PA Gov Wolf “Eager” to Sign Drilling Law Forced Down His Throat). New regs for shale are called Article 78a while regs for conventional are called Article 78. Shale drillers were hoping to tweak Article 78a regs before they became final. That effort failed (see Bill Tweaking Article 78a Shale Drilling Regs Dies in PA House). The process is this: the new regs (both Article 78 and 78a) get a final review by the state Attorney General’s office to be sure they are legal/lawful, and then get published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and become official law. But questions remain. Last week the AG’s office approved the new rules with minor tweaks. Problem is, do you publish Article 78 along with 78a in the Bulletin? The Powers That Be will have a confab this week on Thursday to decide that question. Also, what will the shale industry do? Will they litigate to stop the publication of Article 78a without the tweaks they sought? Inquiring minds want to know…

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