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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.

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.

DEP Training on Final-Form Rulemaking

Training Webinars (August 2 - September 1, 2016)

Training webinars regarding the Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Well Sites

Training Agenda – Final-Form Rulemaking on Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites

September 13 and 14, 2016 (Ramada Inn, State College, PA)
September 27 and 28, 2016 (Ramada Inn, Washington, PA)

In an effort to improve compliance with upcoming new regulatory requirements, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) invites operators of unconventional natural gas well sites and other interested parties to attend in-person training relating to the final "Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites" rulemaking. The rulemaking is currently being finalized for publication later this fall. Two separate training sessions will be offered that will cover the same material, offering attendees the opportunity to attend a training at the date(s) or location that best suits their needs.

The rulemaking represents the first update to rules governing surface activities associated with the development of unconventional wells. The rulemaking package itself has been in development since 2011. The amendments applicable to conventional oil and gas wells were withdrawn at the direction of the Office of Attorney General in response to the passage of Act 52 of 2016.

Each training module covers a particular aspect of the final rulemaking. The new regulations address surface activities at unconventional well sites, and center on five core areas. The amendments:

  • Improve protection of water resources;
  • Add public resources considerations;
  • Protect public health and safety;
  • Address landowner concerns; and
  • Enhance transparency and improve data management.

The first of the two trainings will be held on Tuesday, September 13 and Wednesday, September 14 at the Ramada Inn, 1450 South Atherton St, State College, PA. The second training will be held on September 27 and 28 at the Ramada Inn, 1170 West Chestnut St., Washington, PA.

The agenda for each two-day training event is attached. Please note that the planned training sessions will cover the same material that was covered during the Chapter 78a external training webinars held from August 22 through September 1. These webinars were recorded and the recordings are being made available to the public. Potential attendees should also be aware that the trainings in State College and Washington will be covering the same material and topics.

Registration for the trainings is required. There is no registration fee associated with this training, but you must pre-register for the training as seating for each training session is limited. REGISTRATION FOR THE WASHINGTON TRAINING SESSION IS NOW CLOSED. Lunch and break refreshments will not be provided, so please plan accordingly. For more information or questions concerning these webinars, contact Kurt Klapkowski, Director, Bureau of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management, at kklapkowsk@pa.gov or (717) 783-9893.

RAMADA INN, STATE COLLEGE, PA
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
9:00 am to 10:30 am Emergency Response, Secondary Containment, Reporting/Remediating Spills and Releases (§§ 78a.55, 78a.64, 78a.64a, 78a.66)
10:30 am – 10:45 am Break
10:45 am – 11:45 am Erosion Control, Site Restoration, and Borrow Pits (§§ 78a.53, 78a.65, 78a.67)
11:45 am – 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 pm – 2:15 pm Waste Management 1 (§§ 78a.56 – 78a.59c)
2:15 pm – 3:15 pm Pipelines and Horizontal Directional Drilling (§§ 78a.68, 78a.68a, 78a.68b)
3:15 pm – 3:30 pm Break
3:30 pm – 4:15 pm Well Permits and Reporting (§§ 78a.11 – 78a.19, 78a.121 – 78a.123)
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
8:30 am – 10:30 am Area of Review (§§ 78a.52a, 78a.73)
10:30 am – 11:00 am Break
11:00 am – noon Waste Management 2 (§§ 78a.60 – 78a.63)
Noon – 1:15 pm Lunch
1:15 pm – 2:15 pm Protection of Water Supplies (§§ 78a.51, 78a.52)
2:15 pm – 2:45 pm Water Management Plans (§ 78a.69)
2:45 pm – 3:00 pm Break
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Application Requirements and Public Resources (§ 78a.15)
 
RAMADA INN, WASHINGTON, PA
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
9:00 am to 10:30 am Emergency Response, Secondary Containment, Reporting/Remediating Spills and Releases (§§ 78a.55, 78a.64, 78a.64a, 78a.66)
10:30 am – 10:45 am Break
10:45 am – 11:45 am Erosion Control, Site Restoration, and Borrow Pits (§§ 78a.53, 78a.65, 78a.67)
11:45 am – 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 pm – 2:15 pm Waste Management 1 (§§ 78a.56 – 78a.59c)
2:15 pm – 3:15 pm Pipelines and Horizontal Directional Drilling (§§ 78a.68, 78a.68a, 78a.68b)
3:15 pm – 3:30 pm Break
3:30 pm – 4:15 pm Well Permits and Reporting (§§ 78a.11 – 78a.19, 78a.121 – 78a.123)
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
8:30 am – 10:30 am Area of Review (§§ 78a.52a, 78a.73)
10:30 am – 11:00 am Break
11:00 am – noon Waste Management 2 (§§ 78a.60 – 78a.63)
Noon – 1:15 pm Lunch
1:15 pm – 2:15 pm Protection of Water Supplies (§§ 78a.51, 78a.52)
2:15 pm – 2:45 pm Water Management Plans (§ 78a.69)
2:45 pm – 3:00 pm Break
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Application Requirements and Public Resources (§ 78a.15)

Independent Regulatory Review Commission FINAL Rulemaking (April 21, 2016)

The Independent Regulatory Review Council (IRRC) approved revisions to Pennsylvania's oil and gas drilling regulations April 21, 2016, continuing on the process that modernizes and strengthens the "Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites" (Chapters 78 and 78A) rulemaking. The regulations amend the environmental controls employed by both the conventional and unconventional industries to assure the protection of public health, safety, and the environment.

EQB FINAL RULEMAKING Meeting (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 developed the final rulemaking package. At its February 3, 2016 meeting, a majority of Environmental Quality Board members voted to adopt the Chapter 78 and Chapter 78a final rulemaking. Minutes of the February 3 Environmental Quality Board meeting. The rulemaking documents from this meeting are available on the Environmental Quality Board's 2016 webpage (click and scroll down to "February 3, 2016"). The meeting was recorded and the video is available at https://youtu.be/fbNyTIWLvzY.
 

Act 52 of 2016

The amendments applicable to conventional oil and gas wells were withdrawn at the direction of the Office of Attorney General in response to the passage of Act 52 of 2016.  An Act establishing the Pennsylvania Grade Crude Development Advisory Council; and providing for duties of the Pennsylvania Grade Crude Development Advisory Council and the Department of Environmental Protection, for administrative support and for regulation of conventional oil and gas wells.
 

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.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 -- Final Rulemaking for Environmental Protection Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites Webinar

Proposed Regulation (Dec. 14, 2013)

Monday, March 9, 2015 -- Revised Rulemaking Proposal for Environmental Protection Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites Webinar

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