PA DEP Settles Lawsuit by Chesapeake Bay Foundation – Slows Down Drilling Permit Process in Some Areas

The permitting process for some (many?) Marcellus Shale gas wells in Pennsylvania will take longer than it previously did because of a lawsuit brought by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation against the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP has just settled the lawsuit agreeing to more stringent guidelines for granting drilling permits near “pristine” mountain streams.

Dogged persistence from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has resulted in Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection changing its permitting process for drilling in the Marcellus Shale to protect the Commonwealth’s most pristine mountain streams.

DEP has agreed to a settlement of legal action brought against the agency nearly two years ago.

In the settlement, DEP has agreed to remove its “expedited” permitting process from drilling applications located near streams with the highest water quality and considered to be of exceptional value.

Those pristine waters are largely found in the heart of where much of the Marcellus drilling is now taking place, said Matt Ehrhart, the Pennsylvania executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

“Drilling projects in these locations should be looked at with extra diligence to assure that those waters are protected and preserved,” said Ehrhart.*

No official comment yet from the DEP.

*Harrisburg The Patriot-News (Jul 7, 2011) – DEP to make gas wells near high quality streams go through full permitting process