PA DEP Plans Redo of Chapter 78 Conventional Well Regs in 2018

It looks like Pennsylvania’s conventional (non-shale) oil and gas drillers will get a reprieve from onerous new drilling rules–at least until next year. PA Gov. Tom Wolf has been obstinate in demanding onerous new drilling rules for the conventional, as well as unconventional (shale) drilling industry since he took office. Reworked drilling rules for both conventional and shale drillers were done and ready to go under previous Gov. Tom Corbett. Then Corbett lost to Wolf, and Wolf demanded changes to the common sense rules everyone had already agreed to (see New Draft Drilling Regulations in PA: Wastewater Impoundments Out). Wolf’s changes for conventional drillers threatened to run PA’s traditional, small conventional drillers out of business by applying the same regulations to them that will apply to shale drillers. The Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (PIOGA) represents many of those small conventional drillers and vigorously fought back (see PIOGA Turns Up the Heat on Wolf/Quigley Over TAB/Chapter 78 and PA Board Adopts New Drilling Regs, PIOGA Blasts DEP “Deceptive”). In the end, Wolf’s own Democrat Party legislators in the House and Senate abandoned him and the writing was on the wall: The entire package of drilling rules, for both conventional (Chapter 78) and shale (Chapter 78a) was headed for defeat. The legislature was about to repeal both sets of newly-minted DEP rules–so in 2016 Wolf pivoted and decided to accept half a loaf–passage of the shale rules, Chapter 78a (see Wolf Really Didn’t Wise Up, He Just Took Half a Loaf re Drilling Regs). Since that time, we’ve not heard much about Chapter 78, which applies to conventional drillers. In the August 19 Pennsylvania Bulletin, the DEP published a short notice to say the agency will now wait until late 2018 before attempting changes to Chapter 78 for conventional drillers…

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