Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee Comments on Proposed DEP Regulations

On July 7, 2015, the Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee (COGAC) wrote to the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Deputy Secretary Scott Perry to express that they will not support the proposed amendments to 25 Pa. Code Chapter 78.  That particular code chapter deals with the regulation of oil and gas wells.

The COGAC was formed in March 2015 by the DEP to advise the DEP in forming regulations that will impact conventional oil and gas extraction. According to the bylaws of the COGAC, the DEP consults with the COGAC “in the formulation, drafting, and presentation stages of all regulations promulgated under the 2012 Oil and Gas Act.”  The COGAC comments on and reviews the regulations under the Act before the submission of the regulations to the Environmental Quality Board. 

The COGAC is made up of voting members and non-voting members.  The voting members consist of three members that are either a “petroleum engineer, petroleum geologist, or an experienced driller representative of the oil and gas industry.”  The other two voting members are a “mining engineer from the coal industry with three years of experience in Pennsylvania” and a “geologist or petroleum engineer with three years of experience in Pennsylvania” that is chosen from a list that is formulated by the Citizens Advisory Council to the Governor.  The three non-voting members are chosen by the Secretary of the DEP.

The proposed regulations would heighten the standards regarding site restoration, waste disposal, monitoring and regulating of wells, identifying and monitoring abandoned wells, and protecting public resources around well sites among other updates to the regulation.   The letter that COGAC wrote expressed their displeasure with the new rules for two main reasons.  The first reason is that they believe that the DEP has not provided evidence that there is a need for the revisions to the regulations.  The COGAC believes that there is no need for more stringent regulations when the current ones have been successful in monitoring the industry.  The second COGAC claim is that the DEP did not properly follow the Act’s requirement that oil and gas regulations differentiate between conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells.

Written by Stephen Kenney - Research Assistant 
Center for Agricultural and Shale Law
August 4, 2015

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