Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Conventional Oil, Gas Advisory Committee Again Challenges DEP Drilling Regs

The voting members of DEP’s Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee Monday finalized its comments on the final Chapter 78 drilling regulations and submitted them to the Environmental Quality Board for its consideration.
The voting member comments from the Committee again alleged DEP did not follow the proper rulemaking procedures in developing the regulation; they said the rule creates an unreasonable burden on drillers to replace water supplies they contaminated to pre-drilling standards; creates an unreasonable standard for restoring drilling sites to pre-drilling standards; and made other comments.
DEP’s 2014 Oil and Gas Annual Report found conventional oil and gas wells had three times the violations of unconventional wells and nearly three times the number of enforcement actions during 2014.
Click Here for a copy of the Committee’s 43 pages of comments.
Industry Reaction - Conventional Drillers
PA Independent Oil & Gas Association President Louis D. D’Amico Thursday issued the following statement regarding the Department of Environmental Protection’s transmittal of the final oil and natural gas regulations (Chapter 78 and 78a) to the Environmental Hearing Board [Note: Should be Environmental Quality Board.]:
“The development of these regulations over the past four years has been flawed to the point of being fraudulent. The modernization of environmental controls was required by Act 13 for the unconventional industry and yet, despite working on these regulations since 2011, DEP has still not explained or shown the need to make them applicable to the conventional industry.
“The reasonableness of these rulemaking packages is not determined by the volume of materials accompanying them, and DEP’s touting its responses to ‘every one of the almost 28,000 comments’ received is disingenuous because many of those comments were form letters and, more importantly, DEP’s responses come too late in the process to have any legitimacy or merit.
“Just as disingenuous is DEP’s reference to the ’20 meetings with the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board and Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee’ as some type of evidence this has been an ‘exercise in transparency in rulemaking.’  One must remember that in the middle of this rulemaking process this administration quietly replaced all of the long-serving and dedicated TAB members and violated the Oil and Gas Act by trying to add new ‘non-voting’ members, and yet still failed to engage TAB and the Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee in the required ‘consultation’ or to provide both with the required ‘reasonable opportunity to review and comment prior to submission of the packages to the EQB.
“Repeated references by this administration to whatever it proposes as ‘common sense’ cannot magically transform any of them, especially these rulemakings.  We look forward to pressing on with our fight against this abuse of process and extreme regulatory overreach these rulemakings represent.”
EQB Consideration Of Regulation Feb. 3
DEP released the final version of the Chapter 78 (conventional) and  Chapter 78A (unconventional) drilling regulations Wednesday.
The Environmental Quality Board is scheduled to meet on February 3 to consider the final regulations.
Conventional Committee Meeting Jan. 13
The Committee’s next meeting is on January 13 to consider other issues, including: Review of Forms Required To Implement Chapter 78; Review of Technical Guidance To Implement Chapter 78; DCNR Presentation On PA Natural Diversity Inventory Review System; Presentation on EPA Clean Power Climate Plan Requirements; and Well Completion, Waste Reporting, Drilling/Coal Mining Coordination.
The meeting will be held in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson Building starting at 10:00 a.m.  Meetings of the Committee are frequently webcast, but no information has been posted yet on that option.
The Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee was created and named by DEP Secretary in March of last year because DEP lacked an advisory group specifically on conventional, versus Marcellus Shale, drilling industry.
For more information, visit DEP’s Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee webpage.   DEP Contact: Kurt Klapkowski, Office of Oil and Gas Management, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101, 717-772-2199, kklapkowsk@pa.gov.
Unconventional Drilling Advisory Committee Meeting Jan. 14
The next meeting of DEP’s Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board (unconventional Marcellus Shale drilling) is January 14 at the same location, time and with a similar agenda.  The DEP contact is the same.
The final version of the Chapter 78 (conventional) & 78A (unconventional) drilling regulations is available on the Environmental Quality Board webpage along with other supporting materials.
For more background information on how the Chapter 78 regulations were developed, visit DEP’s Oil and Gas Management Regulations webpage.

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