Monday, April 25, 2022

DEP: Draft Updates Coming To Regs. On Conventional Oil & Gas Waste Disposal As Early As July; Waste Reporting Changes Invited

On April 25, Kurt Klapkowski, Acting DEP Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management, told the
DEP Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board he hopes to have a draft rulemaking covering conventional oil and gas waste processing and disposal ready for public review by the Board’s meeting on July 18.

Klapkowski said the rulemaking changes will focus on requirements in 25 Pa Code Chapter 78, Subchapter C which covers the onsite storage, processing and disposal of drill cuttings and  wastewater from oil and gas wells.

That Subchapter also covers alternative methods of disposing of uncontaminated drill cuttings through use of “solidifiers, dusting, unlined pits, attenuation or other alternative practices for the disposal of uncontaminated drill cuttings.”

This new proposed regulation could address the controversial issue of road dumping conventional oil and gas wastewater.  This practice is banned for the disposal of wastewater from unconventional wells, but still allowed by DEP for conventional wells.  Read more here.

The practice is also under investigation by the state Office of Attorney General.  Read more here.

Klapskowski and TAB members discussed forming work groups “of key stakeholders that have an interest in the rulemaking” to discuss the draft regulations, perhaps jointly with DCED’s PA Crude [Oil] Development Advisory Council representing the conventional industry.

Waste Reporting Changes

DEP and members of TAB discussed the need to form another work group to develop suggested changes to oil and gas program waste reporting forms and processes to allow for a more streamlined data submission process and a better, more flexible data user experience.

Dr. Susan L. Brantley from Penn State, brought up the issue of changing the data system to better track where the drilling waste was going for disposal.

“To the extent that streamlining and changes happen, then can it allow someone to figure out  how much salt is coming out and then where it's going even after it goes through a processing facility or something where the waste materials go?” said Dr. Brantley.

In response, Klapkowski said, “...Absolutely. I mean, this has come up on the conventional side of things right now with the use of spreading brine [on roads]  under co-product determination. 

“It's been discussed that we need to get more accurate tracking of where this brine is being used. Again, that's part of the ongoing discussion that we've had and certainly something that we'd be open to hearing suggestions about doing better,” said Klapkowski.

Public Representatives?

A point of controversy in the past has been the lack of representatives of the public or environmental groups in the oil and gas regulatory development process.

A majority of members on the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board are members of the oil and gas industry, although there are a few non-industry, academic voting and non-voting members.

A majority of DCED’s PA Grade Crude [Oil] Development Advisory Council are members of the conventional oil and gas industry, with a few non-industry members who are members of the Senate and House.

Visit DEP’s Office Of Oil & Gas Management webpage to learn more about this program.

For more information and available handouts, visit DEP’s Oil & Gas Technical Advisory Board webpage.  Questions should be directed to Todd Wallace, 717-783-6395.

Related Articles:

-- Financial Assurance, Plugging Regulations To Be Reviewed To Prevent New Abandoned Oil & Gas Wells Under Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Plugging Program

-- DEP: Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Prompting Review Of On-Site Disposal Options For Oil & Gas Well Plugging Wastes; Radioactive Waste Disposal

-- DEP Not Seeing Uptick In Oil & Gas Drilling; Expects $8 Million Deficit In Funding Oil & Gas Regulatory Program

[Posted: April 25, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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