Tuesday, November 16, 2021

EQB Accepts Petitions For Study To Increase Oil & Gas Well Bonding; DEP Has $15 Per Well Available In Bonds To Plug Conventional Wells

On November 16, the
Environmental Quality Board approved a proposed regulation setting a drinking water MCL for PFOA and PFOS  “forever” chemicals for comments and accepted for study two rulemaking petitions to increase bonding on both conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells.

Oil & Gas Well Bonding

The EQB voted 16 to 3 to accept the rulemaking petitions on bonding for conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells.

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) and James Welty, Marcellus Shale Coalition voted against accepting the petitions for study.

The two  rulemaking petitions ask the EQB to adopt regulation changes requiring full-cost bonding to cover the costs of plugging conventional and unconventional (shale) oil and gas wells.  Read more here.

The petitions were submitted by the Sierra Club, Clean Air Council, Earthworks, Mountain Watershed Association, PennFuture, and Protect Penn-Trafford.

The current bond amount for conventional wells is $2,500 per conventional well, with the option to post a $25,000 blanket bond, which does not come close to full-cost bonding.  [These are the same amounts enacted in the 1984 Oil and Gas Act.]

The petition asks for conventional well bonds to be increased to $38,000 per well and cover all existing active conventional wells.

DEP’s average conventional well plugging costs for an abandoned well are $33,000, but can be as low as $15,000 if the well is intact.  Read more here.

Scott Perry, DEP Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management, told the Board a majority of the 100,508 conventional oil and gas wells that now have active permits from DEP are not covered by any bonding requirement.

Laura Legere of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday DEP has less than $15 per well available to plug active conventional oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania.  [Read more here]

The current bond amount for unconventional wells is $10,000 adopted in 2012, with a blanket bonding system that greatly lowers the actual per-well amount, which also does not come close to full-cost bonding.

The petition asks for unconventional well bonds to be increased to $83,000 per well.

Both the 1984 Act and Act 13 of 2012 have language authorizing the EQB to change the bonding amount, “The amount of the bond required shall be in the following amounts and may be adjusted by the Environmental Quality Board every two years to reflect the projected costs to the Commonwealth of plugging the well.”

If the Board accepts the petition for study, DEP is required to report back to the Board within 60 days with its further recommendations for action on the issues raised by the petition.  Read more here on the process.

Click Here for available handouts.


The proposed rulemaking would establish maximum contaminant levels goals (MCLGs) and maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) for community, nontransient noncommunity, and bottled, vended, retail, and bulk water systems.

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) and Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) voted against approving the regulation for public comment.

DEP is not recommending an MCL for other PFAS chemicals at this time due to lack of occurrence data, incomplete cost/benefit data, the lack of a reference dose and the lack of treatability data.

The proposed MCL for PFOA is proposed at 14 ppt and the MCLG (MCL Goal) at 8 ppt.

The proposed MCL for PFOS is proposed at 18 ppt and the MCLG (MCL Goal) at 14 ppt.

The current EPA recommended health protection level is 70 ppt, although EPA recently announced a new strategy for dealing with PFAS “forever” chemicals.  Read more here.

The proposed regulation also sets proposed monitoring and sampling requirements.

The regulation would affect about 2,898 water systems in Pennsylvania.

DEP is estimating the regulation will cost water systems an estimated $115.3 million in annual treatment capital and operation and maintenance costs per million gallons per day.

Annual performance monitoring costs would be an estimated $6.2 million.

DEP’s Public Water System Technical Assistance Center Board recommended moving forward with the proposed rulemaking for public comment in July.

DEP is proposing a 60-day public comment period with three public hearings.

The proposed regulation is a result of a rulemaking petition submitted by the Delaware RiverKeeper and accepted by the Environmental Quality Board in August of 2017.  Read more here.

Visit the EQB webpage for available background documents on the proposed regulation.

Visit DEP’s PFAS in Pennsylvania webpage for more information on this issue.

Other Agenda Items

Also on the agenda is a final regulation significantly revising Stage I and II volatile organic compound emission controls at service stations and a proposed regulation establishing a Municipal Waste Rural Transfer Facility Permit-By-Rule.

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) and Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) voted against the Stage I & II regulations.

For more information and available handouts, visit the Environmental Quality Board webpage.  Questions should be directed to Laura Griffin, laurgriffi@pa.gov, 717-772-3277.

(Photo: Abandoned leaking conventional well.)


-- DEP Proposed To Set Stricter PFAS Limits Approved [For Public Comment] By Environmental Quality Board

-- Delaware RiverKeeper: EQB Approves Proposed Drinking Water Limits For PFAS

-- EPA Asks Science Advisory Board To Review PFOA/PFOS In Drinking Water Science

Related Articles This Week:

-- Marcellus Shale Coalition Challenges EQB Authority To Increase Bond Amounts For Conventional Oil & Gas Wells; DEP Has $15 Per Well Available In Bonds To Plug Conventional Wells 

-- A First-Hand Account Of How Repeated, Unlimited Road Dumping Of Oil & Gas Drilling Wastewater Is Tearing Apart Dirt Roads And Creating Multiple Environmental Hazards - By Siri Lawson, Farmington Township, Warren County

-- Preliminary Results From New Penn State Study Find Increased Cancer, Health Risks From Road Dumping Conventional Drilling Wastewater, Especially For Children  [PaEN]

-- New Pitt-Duquesne Study Shows Higher Exposures To Radiation In Road Dumping Of Drilling Wastewater When Appropriate Exposure Scenarios Are Used 

-- Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, FracTracker Alliance Call On Citizens To Report Road Dumping Of Oil & Gas Drilling Wastewater 

-- Trout Unlimited: What Do Pennsylvania's Dirt And Gravel Roads Have To Do With Trout?  

-- PUC Imposes $1 Million Penalty On Energy Transfer Company For 2018 Revolution Pipeline Explosion In Beaver County

-- PUC Orders More Than A Dozen Actions To Improve Safety In Construction, Operation Of Mariner East Pipelines; Sunoco Must Pay $2,000 Penalty

-- DRBC Extends Comment Period On Draft Regulations Covering Discharges Of Wastewater From Fracking Operations & Ban On Road Dumping Of Wastewater & Co-Products

Related Articles:

-- Environmental Groups Submit Rulemaking Petitions To Environmental Quality Board Asking For Full-Cost Bonding For Oil & Gas Well Plugging

-- The Science Says: Spreading Conventional Drilling Wastewater On Dirt & Gravel Roads Can Harm Aquatic Life, Poses Health Risks To Humans - And It Damages The Roads

-- Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, FracTracker Alliance Call On Citizens To Report Dumping Of Oil & Gas Drilling Wastewater On Dirt & Gravel Roads 

-- Reminder: Nov. 16-17 PA League Of Women Voters Virtual Shale Gas & Public Health Conference; Including Efficacy Of Using Drilling Wastewater On Dirt Roads 

-- EPA Announces Comprehensive National Strategy On PFAS Pollution

[Posted: November 16, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner