Thursday, April 23, 2015

DEP May Explore Other Funding Options For Oil & Gas Program With Declining Permits

Scott Perry, DEP Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management, told the DEP Citizens Advisory Council on Tuesday the agency may explore other funding options to support DEP’s oil and gas regulatory program since applications for new oil and gas permits have declined by about 30 percent so far this year.
Perry said last year DEP processed some 4,278 applications for new wells.  So far in 2015, the agency received just 491.
DEP relies on permit fees to fund the bulk of its regulatory program for oil and gas well drilling, both conventional and unconventional (Marcellus Shale).
The agency last increased permit fees in 2014 hoping to generate an additional $4.7 million in revenue, but with the significant decline in new well permits, it will not generate nearly that kind of revenue.
In his FY 2015-16 proposed budget, Gov. Wolf has proposed using a portion of a proposed new natural gas severance tax to fund 50 additional oil and gas and related program inspectors, if funds are available.
Perry also provided a status report on the drilling program, including the Chapter 78 (conventional) and Chapter 78A (unconventional) drilling regulations, number of well inspections and an overview of the number of violations being found by DEP during inspections.
Perry noted the number of violations found on conventional oil and gas well sites were more than double those found on unconventional (Marcellus Shale) sites.  17 percent of inspections found violations at conventional well sites, while the rate of violations on unconventional well sites was 8 percent.
A copy of Perry’s presentation will be posted on the DEP Citizens Advisory Council webpage.   
The PowerPoint presentation does contain a disclaimer: “These materials do not necessarily reflect views of the Commonwealth, the (Governor’s) Office of General Counsel or the Department of Environmental Protection.”

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