PA DEP Rejects Revisions to Regs re Drilling Near Coal Mines

Here’s a story we admittedly don’t know much about, a story that kind of came out of left field. It may affect some shale drillers in southwest PA. Sometimes drillers want to lease and drill under coal mines. Since coal mines sink large holes in the ground, there are existing guidelines in place for how closely an oil/gas well can be drilled on or under a coal mine–guidelines put in place in 1957. As a result of legislation passed in 2011 called Act 2, a review was conducted to see if the standards for oil/gas drilling near coal mines might be modified–we’re assuming “relaxed,” allowing such drilling to happen in conditions not currently allowed. A column of rock called a pillar needs to be of a certain size/width in order for drilling to take place. An independent study to review the size of pillars, called “Gas Well Pillar Study Update, PO 4300311202 and 4300400813,” was completed in March 2016. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently completed its own review of that study (copy of the DEP review below) and has rejected changing existing 1957 standards for pillar dimensions. Yeah, kind of technical. Short version: DEP is keeping super-strict standards in place claiming it’s safer for coal miners, limiting options for shale drilling under some coal mines…

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