Monday, March 9, 2015

Sierra Club Responds to DEP Release of Draft Oil and Gas Regulations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:    Monday, March 9, 2015

Joanne Kilgour, Director Sierra Club PA Chapter, O: 717-232-0101, C:
Thomas Au, Conservation Chair, Sierra Club PA Chapter, P:

Sierra Club Responds to DEP Release of Draft Oil and Gas Regulations

One year ago, in March of 2014, the Sierra Club was among the 24,000 individuals and organizations that submitted comments on proposed revisions to state oil and gas regulations, referred to as “Chapter 78.”  Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released its updated draft of these regulations, which will be open for additional 30-day comment period. These draft regulations reflect an impressive attention to detail and responsiveness to public comments. 

In joint comments with other environmental organizations, we asked DEP to require that all wells, whether active or inactive, orphaned or abandoned, be identified prior to drilling, and we are pleased to see that DEP is proposing a requirement that operators submit a permit application that includes a map of all active, inactive, abandoned and orphaned wells prior to drilling.   

We agree that centralized open waste impoundments must be addressed, but we remain concerned that DEP's requirement that such impoundments be phased out or upgraded to meet residual waste regulations may not address pollution risks in a timely manner. Under DEP’s proposal, it may take more than 3 years before open storage of waste is eliminated.

In response to these changes, Sierra Club PA Chapter Conservation Chair, Tom Au stated:

"We welcome this new draft, which responds to community concerns.  We appreciate DEP's willingness to address pollution problems that have resulted from lax regulation of the shale gas industry. We need vigorous on-the-ground checks to ensure that new requirements are put into practice."

Sierra Club PA Chapter Director, Joanne Kilgour added:

“We applaud DEP for taking steps to better protect human health and the environment. Importantly, DEP proposes a prohibition on the use of temporary on-site waste storage pits, and would require operators to restore drinking water supplies to pre-drilling condition or to meet state Safe Drinking Water Act standards. We will continue to advocate for regulations and enforcement that best protect our communities, and hope to see the Department further strengthen its approach to a number of issues including centralized wastewater impoundments, which should be prohibited due to significant risk of air and water pollution, as well as risk of human exposure to hazardous substances.”


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