Friday, January 26, 2024

DEP To Require Unconventional Shale Gas Operators To Disclose Chemicals Used In Drilling, Fracking Operations Earlier In Well Drilling Process Thru PPC Emergency Plan Changes

On January 26, the Department of Environmental Protection announced it is implementing new policies that will require unconventional shale gas operators to publicly disclose chemicals they use in drilling and hydraulic fracturing earlier in the well development process through changes to their site-specific Preparedness, Prevention and Contingency (PPC) Plans. 
Conventional oil and gas well operators are not covered by this new requirement even though they routinely frack their wells.

The announcement said, this “is a next step in the Shapiro Administration's continuing work to address climate change and protect Pennsylvanians’ Constitutional right to clean air and pure water while maintaining our Commonwealth’s legacy as a national energy leader.” 

In implementing this requirement, the Shapiro Administration is also following through on a key recommendation of the 43rd Statewide Grand Jury Report, which Gov. Shapiro oversaw as Attorney General.  Read more here.

“As Attorney General and now as Governor, I have listened to Pennsylvanians concerned about their health and safety – and I am delivering on the promise I made to them to secure these protections,” said Gov. Josh Shapiro. “My Administration is setting a new standard for Pennsylvania natural gas to be produced in a responsible, sustainable way and showing how we can bring people together to get things done. We’re going to follow through on our commitment to ensure the health and safety of our communities while maintaining Pennsylvania’s proud energy legacy and our Commonwealth’s critical role in the nation’s energy economy.”

More Specifics

DEP regulations now require well operators to prepare and develop a site-specific Preparedness, Prevention and Contingency (PPC) plan prior to storing, using, or generating regulated substances on a well site. 

[DEP has two guidance documents for preparing emergency and PPC plans for oil and gas facilities-- Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of Oil & Gas Well Site Integrated Contingency Plans for Unconventional Well Sites-- DEP 800-2200-001 -- issued in July 2023 and Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of Environmental Emergency Response Plans-- DEP 400-2200-001-- issued in April 2001 with minor changes in 2005.]

The PPC plan generally requires disclosure of “regulated substances,” as defined in 25 Pa. Code § 78a.1. 

[The existing Integrated Contingency Plans policy requires operators to “Identify and list by common chemical name and trade name, the locations, sources and quantities of chemicals and wastes (residual waste and regulated substances, including top hole water, brines, drilling fluids, additives, drilling muds, stimulation fluids, well servicing fluids, oil, production fluids and drill cuttings from the drilling, alteration, production, plugging) managed at the site.” 

[It also provides trade secret and confidentiality protections: “Requests for confidentiality of this information will be handled in accordance with Department regulations.” (page 17)] 

Today’s announcement said previously, PPC plans were required to be submitted to DEP only upon request. 

[DEP only required the submission of so-called “Quick Sheets” which contained critical information for first responders, contacts, maps of the facilities and other information.  DEP 800-2200-001 - page 6]

Now, when issuing permits for new unconventional wells, DEP will require the submission of unconventional well operators’ site-specific PPC plans prior to drilling. 

Moving forward, the PPC documents will be posted online by DEP at PA Oil and Gas Mapping website upon receipt.

Operator Notification

To inform unconventional operators of this new process, DEP will include the new request in every cover letter that is attached to issued unconventional well permits as of January 3, 2024. 

DEP said it has also notified unconventional operators and industry groups. 

PPC plans will be uploaded and made publicly available via the DEP’s Office of Oil & Gas Management’s eSubmission application, which can be accessed through DEP’s Greenport

Making this information accessible will ensure communities understand the facts about natural gas development, according to the announcement..

DEP said in order to provide a consistent and thorough response, the DEP Office of Oil and Gas Management will conduct the initial reviews of the submitted PPC plans for completeness and compliance with regulations. 

DEP will also provide training to unconventional gas well operators to ensure compliance with the regulatory planning requirements. 

With this oversight, DEP can ensure that operators are well-prepared to avoid and address spills and releases, which can have public health and safety implications as well as environmental impacts.

“DEP is setting a new standard of transparency for Pennsylvania's natural gas regulation and policy actions," said DEP Interim Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley. “Under Governor Shapiro's leadership, DEP will continue to ensure compliance with Pennsylvania’s environmental laws and regulations that address unconventional well permits. By requiring unconventional gas companies to make their PPC plans publicly available, Pennsylvanians will have a clearer picture of the types of chemicals being used on unconventional well sites earlier in the process."

Other Initiatives

In addition to the disclosure of chemicals used in drilling, Gov. Shapiro has also directed DEP to take action to pursue formal rulemaking and policy changes mirroring the collaboration, including: improved control of methane emissions aligned with the US Environmental Protection Agency's recently announced performance standards for emission sources in the oil and natural gas sector, stronger drilling waste protections, including inspection of secondary containment, and corrosion protections for gathering lines that transport natural gas.

Click Here for the complete announcement.

Visit DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas Management webpage for more information on how DEP regulates conventional and unconventional oil and gas drilling and infrastructure.


Marcellus Shale Gas Industry Coalition Twitter comment on Gov. Shapiro's new fracking Chemical Disclosure Policy: "This info is already submitted to @PennsylvaniaDEP through Greenport when the well pad & first well are permitted. DEP has had this information on its servers for years.”

PennFuture and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania released this statement in reaction to this initiative--

“[We] applaud Governor Josh Shapiro for following through with a sensible policy on transparency in drilling and hydraulic fracturing:

“We have long advocated for the disclosure of chemicals used in new wells, but until now, the industry has yet to tell Pennsylvanians what they may be exposed to.

“While this change does not directly benefit the communities affected, it is a step towards transparency for public health officials, medical researchers, and households throughout Pennsylvania. 

“This win highlights the fact that the fracking industry will not act responsibly on its own, and that well-informed, health-protective public policies are necessary.

“We urge the DEP to ensure the PPC plans posted on its website and the inventory of chemicals are easily accessible to the public. Pennsylvanians also deserve to know from DEP about the fossil fuel industry's compliance with the directive.”

(Photo: Inside Climate News, shale gas drill rig in Washington County.)


-- StateImpactPA - Rachel McDevitt: PA Tells Frackers To Disclose Chemicals, But It’s Not  Clear Exactly What Changes The Public Will See

PA Weekly Oil & Gas Industry Public Notice Dashboards:

-- PA Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Jan. 20 to 26 - 15 More Abandoned Conventional Wells; Plugging Abandoned Shale Gas Wells; Revolution Pipeline Land Slip; Brief Compressor Fire; Crypto Mining?  What's That Pink Stuff?  [PaEN]

-- 5 Months Later, Roulette Oil & Gas Still Has Not Resolved Violations For Abandoning A Shale Gas Well Without Plugging It In Potter County  [PaEN]

-- XTO Energy Begins Plugging First Of 4 Abandoned Shale Gas Wells At Butler County Well Pad [PaEN]

-- 66 Months Later, DEP Worked With Conventional Well Owner, But Multiple Spills At A Well  Site Have Still Not Been Cleaned Up; No Protections In Place For Operators Or Taxpayers  [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - January 27  [PaEN]

-- DEP Posted 84 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In January 27 PA Bulletin  [PaEN] 

2023 Oil & Gas Compliance Reports:

-- DEP Issued At Least 512 Violations To 95 Conventional Oil & Gas Operators For Abandoning Wells Without Plugging Them In 2023; 10 Shale Gas Operators Were Issued NOVs For Abandoning Wells  [PaEN]

-- DEP Issues Record 6,860 Notices Of Violation To Conventional Oil & Gas Operators In 2023-- Nearly 52% More Than In 2021; ‘Culture Of Non-Compliance’ Continues  [PaEN]

-- 2023 Shale Gas Operator Compliance Report: 1,310 Violations; Explosions; Pad Fire, Evacuation; Uncontrolled Gas Venting; Frack-Outs; Polluting Water Supply; Spills; Pipeline Crashing Thru A Home; More  [PaEN]

-- PA Environment Digest: Articles On Oil & Gas Facility Impacts

Related Articles This Week:

-- Senators Santarsiero, Comitta Introduce SB 581 Increasing Setback Safety Zones From Natural Gas Drilling Sites, Other Infrastructure, Based On Latest Science  [PaEN]

-- DEP To Require Unconventional Shale Gas Operators To Disclose Chemicals Used In Drilling, Fracking Operations Earlier In Well Drilling Process Thru PPC Emergency Plan Changes  [PaEN]

-- DEP Extends Deadline Of First Methane Pollution Report From Oil & Gas Facilities To June 1, 2024  [PaEN] 

-- Marcellus Drilling News: DEP Approves Catalyst Energy Oil & Gas Wastewater Injection Well In McKean County  [Jan. 26 Inspection Found Gas Bubbling From Well]  [PaEN]

-- PUC: Act 13 Drilling Impact Fees To Drop By 25% For Fees Due On 2023 Wells; Total Revenue To Drop By Nearly $105 Million  [PaEN] 

-- Environmental Hearing Board Denies Lackawanna Energy Center Power Plant Motion To Dismiss Boro Of Jessup’s Appeal Of DEP Air Permit  [PaEN] 

-- Environmental Hearing Board Denies Liberty Twp., Citizens Group Appeal Of DEP Tri-County Landfill Permit Over Threats Posed By Birds, Radioactive Oil & Gas Waste In Mercer County  [PaEN] 


-- The Energy Age Blog: The Story Of Bryan & Ryan Latkanich In Washington County

-- StateImpactPA - Rachel McDevitt: PA Tells Frackers To Disclose Chemicals, But It’s Not  Clear Exactly What Changes The Public Will See

-- The Energy Age Blog: Reality - ‘Proprietary’ Fracking Chemicals Remain Secrets, But What About The Bigger Picture?  

-- White House Announces Temporary Pause On Pending Approvals Of LNG Natural Gas Exports

-- Chester Mayor Says LNG Natural Gas Export Plant ‘Dead In The Water’  

-- AP: Liquefied Natural Gas: What To Know About LNG And Biden’s Decision To Delay Gas Export Proposals  [No Impact On LNG Now Going To Europe, Asia, DOE Can Allow Exemptions On Natural Security Grounds]

-- PA Marcellus Shale Coalition And Natural Gas Industry Partners Urge Biden Administration To Maximize US LNG Economic, Environmental And Security Benefits

-- Reuters: Texas Freeport LNG Natural Gas Export Unit Faces Month-Long Outage After Winter Storm

-- TribLive: 3 More Range Resources Shale Gas Well Pads Approved By Fawn Township, Allegheny County

-- TribLive Letter: Public Water Resources Should Not Used By Shale Gas Companies In Westmoreland County During Declared Drought - By Tom Pike, Protect PT

-- WKBN27: Environmental Advocate Appeal Of Tri-County Landfill Permit Denied By EHB, Citizens Concerned About Disposal Of Radioactive Oil & Gas Waste

-- Marcellus Shale Coalition: Act 13 Drilling Impact Fees Breathe Life Into County & Municipal Projects [Fee Revenue To Drop By Nearly $105 Million In 2024 ]

-- Bloomberg: Diversified Energy Faces Short-Seller Attack From ESG-Focused Snowcap; Faults Environmental, Asset-Retirement Practices  [Largest Conventional Oil & Gas Operator In PA]

[Posted: January 26, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner