How Long Does it Take to Approve a Marcellus Shale Drilling Permit in WV?

Just how long does it take for West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to approve a new Marcellus shale gas drilling permit?

It depends on a lot of things. Is it horizontal or vertical? Is the paperwork done right? Are there site issues or challenges from surface owners who don’t own the mineral rights? Those are just a few examples, the DEP said.

In Preston County, there are 32 active Marcellus shale gas drilling permits — 28 horizontal, four vertical. Four other permits are pending approval…

Permit approval — from the date an application was received — ranged from four days to 122. (Active permits means the permits were issued; they may not yet be drilled. Companies have two years from date of permit issue to begin drilling, according to the DEP).

Marion County has 60 active Marcellus permits — 42 horizontal, 18 vertical. Two others are pending and one was canceled. Approval time ranged from same day to 90 days.*

But many of those permits were issued in 2008 and 2009, and since then, rule changes and new regulations have made the process longer.

"A lot has changed in the way we issue permits since then," DEP spokeswoman Kathy Cosco said. With new technologies, new challenges and problems, and a few new regulations, "permits are taking longer now than they did."*

*Charleston Daily Mail/AP (Jul 3, 2011) – DEP: Permit process varies