Oil and Gas Surface Regulations
On October 8, 2016, Pennsylvania's Environmental Quality Board (EQB) published a final-form rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin regarding surface activities related to unconventional gas well development. The Pennsylvania Bulletin publication includes the final-form rulemaking language in plain text (Annex A) and an Order describing the regulations. The publication document is available as an html document here and as a pdf document here. A minor correction to the rulemaking was made in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on October 29 and is available as an html document here and as part of a pdf document here. The official Pennsylvania Code published version of the rulemaking is available as an html document here and as a pdf document here. The Pennsylvania Code is the official codification of rules and regulations issued by Commonwealth agencies.
Development of this rulemaking began in 2011 to update existing regulations to ensure that surface activities regarding the development of oil and gas wells were conducted in a manner that protects the health, safety and environment of citizens in this Commonwealth. The surface activities requirements for oil and gas wells in Chapter 78, Subchapter C were last updated in 2001. In 2012, Act 13 significantly revised the commonwealth's oil and gas laws and directed DEP to promulgate regulations to implement its environmental enhancements. The rulemaking was developed through an unprecedented public participation process featuring 135 days of public comment, 12 public hearings, 20 advisory group meetings and the use of the advance notice of final rulemaking procedure. The process resulted in submission of almost 28,000 comments. The written Comment and Response document and other supporting documentation for the final-form rulemaking can be found on the Environmental Quality Board's 2016 webpage (click and scroll down to "February 3, 2016").
The final-form rulemaking sets new requirements related to unconventional gas operations to ensure increased protection of public health, safety, and the environment. The primary goal of this rulemaking is to require that unconventional 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.
DEP Training on Final-Form Rulemaking
Electronic Applications Training Webinars (October 5, 2016)
Training webinars regarding the Oil and Gas electronic applications associated with the Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Well Sites
Training – Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites
In an effort to improve compliance with the new regulatory requirements, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) invited operators of unconventional natural gas well sites and other interested parties to attend training relating to the "Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites" through webinars and in-person events.
Training webinars regarding the Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Well Sites (August 22 - September 1, 2016)
Agenda September 13 and 14, 2016 (PDF) regarding the Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Well Sites
Agenda September 27 and 28, 2016 (PDF) regarding the Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Well Sites
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.
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 (February 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.
Final Rulemaking for Environmental Protection Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites Webinar (January 6, 2016)
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.
Revised Rulemaking Proposal for Environmental Protection Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites Webinar (March 9, 2015)
Proposed Regulation (Dec. 14, 2013)