PA DEP Hellbent to Ram Through 250% Hike in Shale Permit Fee

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), the agency charged with overseeing oil and gas drilling in the state, “blindsided” the shale industry in February with a proposal to hike the fee required when submitting an application to drill a new shale well (see PA DEP Plans to Raise Marcellus Well Permit Fee by 250%). The current fee is $5,000. The proposed new fee is $12,500–or 2.5 times (250%) higher. We understand…the DEP has fewer people working there than it once did and needs to hire more help. However, the DEP wants to slap this insanely high fee on shale drillers to (in part) cover the expenses associated with non-shale activities! According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the shale permit fees will, “fund the broad scope of the [DEP] office’s operations, including its oversight of traditional [i.e. conventional] oil and gas wells, gas storage wells, abandoned wells and earthmoving activities.” How is it, in any sense, fair to hike the fees of shale drillers so DEP agents can better keep an eye on non-shale wells? The DEP plans to steamroller this increase through. Last week the DEP’s own Environmental Quality Board approved the increase. The next step is to publish a notice about the increase in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. That will trigger a 30-day public comment period. However, don’t look for the fee increase to happen right away. It appears DEP thinks they’ll have a royal fight on their hands (which they will), because they said the fee increase won’t happen until 2019 or maybe even 2020…

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