Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Dep Oil, Gas Well Rules Draw Ire of Industry

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Dep Oil, Gas Well Rules Draw Ire of Industry

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG - The conventional oil and gas industry's frustrations with proposed new environmental regulations boiled up at a Department of Environmental Protection advisory board meeting on Thursday, where representatives of the Pennsylvania's legacy drilling industry questioned whether new rules should apply to them now or even at all.

Leaders of several industry trade groups who sit on the advisory board or addressed it Thursday said proposed rules for limiting surface impacts from conventional oil and gas operations should be withdrawn and the 4-year-old process of drafting them should start again to address the specific situation of small operators in the state's traditional, shallow drilling industry.

"There is little or no environmental benefit that will be obtained from these draft final regulations to justify the loss of jobs and the crippling of a historic industry," said Paul Hart, who gave comments on behalf of the trade group Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association at the inaugural meeting of the DEP's Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee.

The DEP's proposed rules will affect the large-scale operations conducted by companies drawing gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales and the generally smaller, shallower operations of the state's traditional industry. A budget bill passed by the General Assembly last year directed regulators to split the rules in two, so the new proposals contain separate standards for the unconventional and conventional industries.

DEP officials pushed back at the meeting against suggestions that the conventional industry has not caused environmental harm.

"Certainly, conventional operations are not environmentally benign," the DEP's deputy secretary for oil and gas management, Scott Perry, said, using as an example cases where conventional well operations have intersected with nearby abandoned wells, causing damage to water and other resources.

The DEP released a revised draft of wide-ranging regulatory changes this month after considering suggestions submitted by citizens, industry representatives and environmental groups. …

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