Thursday, August 18, 2016

Joint Committee Unanimously Directs Final Publication Of DEP Marcellus Drilling Regs

The Joint Senate/House Committee on Documents Thursday voted unanimously to direct the Legislative Reference Bureau to publish DEP’s final Chapter 78a unconventional (Marcellus Shale) drilling regulations in the PA Bulletin.
The Committee found the revised regulatory package presented to the LRB for publication in the Bulletin complied with the statute Gov. Wolf signed into law as Act 52 in June which abrogates the Chapter 78 regulations covering conventional oil and gas wells preventing them from going into effect.
The final package presented to the Joint Committee was revised to take out the provisions of the new Chapter 78 as they applied to conventional well drilling and restored language from the original provisions of Chapter 78.
Staff from the LRB said it would publish the restored Chapter 78 language in the Bulletin when the final rules are published.
The Office of Attorney General and DEP agreed to the approach taken in revising the package to make it comply with Act 52, which was praised by J. Andrew Crompton, General Counsel to the Senate Republican Caucus.
In addition to the Act 52 concerns, the Office of Attorney General also suggested other changes to Chapter 78a dealing with unconventional drilling, including to the definition of mine influenced water, which falls within their authority to review the package for form and legality.
A copy of the revised final drilling regulations as approved by the Joint Committee has not been posted on DEP website.
The regulations may take as long as 3 to 6 weeks to appear in the Bulletin, due to the length of the package and the publication process.
A concern was raised by Mr. Crompton about timing the final publication to make sure all the electronic forms required to be used by the drilling industry are available.  DEP said those forms will be available.
More information on the original, final Chapter 78 & 78a is available on DEP’s Oil and Gas Regulations webpage.
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