Monday, September 30, 2013

STRONGER releases final report on DEP oil and gas regulations

In May 2013, State Review of Oil and Gas Environmental Resources, Inc. (STRONGER), a non-profit multi-stakeholder organization, began an in-depth review of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s oil and gas environmental regulations. On September 20, 2013, STRONGER released its findings. The review found that Pennsylvania programs regulating the oil and gas industry included had five key strengths.
  1. STRONGER found the programs and rules put forth by Pennsylvania agencies and legislatures reflected an understanding of the need to distinguish conventional and unconventional development.
  2. The Pennsylvania DEP actively participated in public orphan and abandoned well events.
  3. Initiating evaluations of naturally occurring radiation materials (NORMs) and technically-enhanced nautrally-occuring radiation materials (TENORMs).
  4. The DEP requirement that any “earth disturbance activity” must be accompanied by Erosion and Sediment Control Plans.
  5. And, STRONGER found that well casing regulations , notification of well commencement and completion, and chemical disclosure requirements exceeded those it advocates for in its guidelines.
STRONGER, however, also included several recommendations for Pennsylvania oil and gas regulations.
  1. Pennsylvania lacked standardized data across its programs for tracking violations and enforcement actions.
  2. The TENORM evaluation needs to be completed and appropriate actions need to be taken based of its results.
  3. Pennsylvania regulators need to establish casing depth standards. Currently, standards only address pressure, centralization and joint welding certification.
  4. Pre-drilling water sampling guidance needs to be developed.
For more information on STRONGER and its review of Pennsylvania, visit its website.

Written by: Garrett Lent, Research Assistant
Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
September 2013

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