Oil and Gas Surface Regulations
On Aug. 27, 2013, Pennsylvania's Environmental Quality Board (EQB) adopted DEP's proposed rulemaking regarding surface activities related to conventional and unconventional oil and gas well development. Development of this rulemaking began in 2011 to update existing regulations to reflect advances in technology. Then in 2012, Act 13 significantly revised the commonwealth's oil and gas laws and directed DEP to promulgate regulations to implement its environmental enhancements.
Once effective, these regulations will set new requirements related to oil and gas operations to ensure increased protection of public health, safety, and the environment. The primary goal of this rulemaking is to provide that oil and gas operators employ effective measures that prevent pollution, while allowing flexibility for the optimal development of this natural resource. These rules focus on performance over process and a commitment to responsible environmental protection for oil and gas extraction activities in Pennsylvania.
The proposed rulemaking was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Dec. 14, 2013. The EQB sought public input through an unprecedented public participation process that included a 90-day public comment period which closed on March 14, 2014 and nine public hearings (information below). During that period, the EQB received comments from 23,213 commentators.
On April 4, 2015, DEP used an Advance Notice of Final Rulemaking (ANFR) procedure to solicit additional public comment for 45 days, including three public hearings. During the ANFR public comment period, DEP received comments from 4,914 commentators on the draft-final rulemaking.
For more information about the Environmental Regulatory Process in Pennsylvania, DEP's Citizen's Guide to Regulations provides a step-by-step overview and tips for submitting effective comments.
FINAL RULEMAKING (FEB. 3. 2016)
After considering all of the comments received and consulting with the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board and Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee, the Department has developed the final rulemaking package. The EQB is currently scheduled to consider the final-form rulemaking for adoption at a meeting on February 3, 2016. (Please note: this meeting can be observed remotely online. Please use the following link to access the meeting beginning at 9:00 a.m. on February 3: http://pacast.com/players/live_dep.asp.)
A fact sheet has been developed by the Department to outline the major points of this rulemaking.
The Executive Summary provides a brief overview of the final rulemaking for the members of the EQB. This document outlines the purpose of the regulation.
The Annex is the regulatory language that is being changed. This document will be published in its entirety in the Pennsylvania Bulletin to become final and effective.
The Order (referred to as the Preamble in a proposed rulemaking) is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin with the Annex as an explanation and justification for the regulation. It articulates how the regulation will improve environmental quality in the Commonwealth, including the improvement of public health and safety and the environment. The Order also provides a background of the regulatory amendments; summaries of significant comments; and information on benefits, costs, and compliance.
The Comment and Response Document lists the comments submitted during the comment periods and the Department's response. The Comment and Response Document for this rulemaking is provided in two parts: one for the comment period held on the proposed regulation (Dec. 14, 2013 – March 14, 2014) and one for the comment period held on the draft final regulation (April 4, 2015 – May 19, 2015). Commentators are identified by their commentator number in the corresponding commentator list.
The Regulatory Analysis Form (RAF) includes 30 questions about the regulation and is submitted to IRRC and the Standing Committees. This document provides justifications for changes and describes the considerations made by the Department during the rulemaking process.
HOW TO READ A FINAL RULE
Plain text shows language that is unchanged from the existing regulation.
Text that is [bold and bracketed] shows language that was deleted in the proposed version.
Text that is bold and underlined shows language that was added in the proposed version.
Text that is [ ] shows language that was deleted in the final rulemaking.
Text that is BOLD, UNDERLINED, AND CAPITALIZED shows language that was added in the final rulemaking.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016 -- Final Rulemaking for Environmental Protection Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites Webinar
Monday, March 9, 2015 -- Revised Rulemaking Proposal for Environmental Protection Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites Webinar
Advanced Notice of Final Rulemaking (April 4, 2015)
DEP accepted additional public comment on the revisions to the draft final rule through an advanced notice of final rulemaking as published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on April 4, 2015. Comments were accepted through May 19, 2015.
During this rulemaking process, the General Assembly passed Act 126 of 2014 on July 10, 2014, directing all regulations promulgated under 58 Pa.C.S. (relating to oil and gas) to differentiate between conventional oil and gas wells and unconventional gas wells. As a result of that enacted legislation, DEP has separated the proposed rulemaking into two chapters. Chapter 78 addresses conventional well development and chapter 78a addresses unconventional well development.
DEP hosted three public hearings to solicit comments on the draft final rulemaking. The dates, locations, and transcripts are as follows:
April 29, 2015 - Washington and Jefferson College
Rossin Campus Center - Allen Ballroom
60 S. Lincoln St.
Washington, PA 15301
Official Transcript: Washington Public Hearing Transcript (PDF)
April 30, 2015 - Warren County Courthouse
204 4th Ave.
Warren, PA 16365
Official Transcript: Warren Public Hearing Transcript (PDF)
May 4, 2015 - Pennsylvania College of Technology
Klump Academic Center
1 College Ave.
Williamsport, PA 17701
Official Transcript: Williamsport Public Hearing Transcript (PDF)
Proposed Regulation (Dec. 14, 2013)
Public Hearings (2014)
The Environmental Quality Board hosted nine hearings across Pennsylvania to solicit comments from citizens about the proposed rulemaking. These hearings took place between January 9, 2014 and February 12, 2014. Transcripts from these hearings are provided below in PDF form.
Jan. 9, 2014, West Chester University of Pennsylvania's Sykes Student Union Theater, 110 West Rosedale Avenue, West Chester, PA 19383
Official Transcript: Chester County Hearing Transcript (PDF)
Jan. 13, 2014, Pennsylvania College of Technology's Klump Academic Center, One College Avenue, Williamsport, PA 17701
Official Transcript: Lycoming County Hearing Transcript (PDF)
Jan. 15, 2014, Meadville Area Senior High School Auditorium, 930 North Street, Meadville, PA 16335
Official Transcript: Crawford County Hearing Transcript (PDF)
Jan. 16, 2014, Good Hope Middle School Auditorium, 451 Skyport Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Official Transcript: Cumberland County Hearing Transcript (PDF)
Jan. 22, 2014, Washington and Jefferson College's Rossin Campus Center / Allen Ballroom, 60 South Lincoln Street, Washington, PA 15301
Official Transcript: Washington County Hearing Transcript (PDF)
Jan. 23, 2014, Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Convention and Athletic Complex, 711 Pratt Drive, Indiana, PA 15705
Official Transcript: Indiana County Hearing Transcript (PDF)
Jan. 27, 2014, Tunkhannock High School Auditorium, 135 Tiger Drive, Tunkhannock, PA 18657
Official Transcript: Wyoming County Hearing Transcript (PDF)
Feb. 10, 2014, Troy High School Auditorium, 150 High St., Troy, PA 16947
Official Transcript: Bradford County Hearing Transcript (PDF)
Feb. 12, 2014, Warren County Courthouse, Main Courtroom, 204 4th Ave., Warren, PA 16365
Official Transcript: Warren County Hearing Transcript (PDF)