Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Peering into Future of Oil, Gas Rules

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Peering into Future of Oil, Gas Rules

Article excerpt

Pennsylvania environmental regulators are making a list of items they want to see in yet another major revision to the state's oil and gas rules, just as they near the end of a contentious rule- drafting process that will have taken half a decade when it is finished next year.

In a conference call to announce the final package of rules for above-ground oil and gas activities on Aug. 12, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley cast his comments repeatedly toward the future.

"This is not the end of the process," he said. "There is more study needed on additional measures, and there will be more rule- making in a separate process, to ensure responsible drilling and protection of communities, public health and the environment."

Regulators gave few firm details about what the coming raft of rules might hold, but they signaled some areas of focus. Mr. Quigley said the agency will release additional information about the potential scope of the next regulatory package, probably between October and December.

Rules to control noise from well sites - which DEP drafted then dropped from the current package of revisions, calling them "premature" - might become part of a future regulation after the agency develops a best practices guide, DEP leaders said.

Mr. Quigley said the agency is "looking in particular at public health protections" as it compiles a list of topics for a next regulatory package "because that is certainly one of the areas of biggest concern." He also said the agency is discussing potential oil and gas rules with staff in all of its divisions, which include air, radiation protection, waste and water, and with outside agencies, including the state Department of Health. He emphasized that DEP "will be driven by science and data" in developing its regulatory proposals.

One new source of data that could influence future regulations is an air quality monitoring study that DEP conducted around Marcellus Shale development sites in southwestern Pennsylvania. That study is complete, Scott Perry, DEP's deputy secretary for oil and gas management, said and it will be released once the state health department finishes reviewing it. …

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