New regulations of shale drilling take effect in Pennsylvania

Chapter 78A regulations improve public data access

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sshale oil and gas drilling rig

HARRISBURG, Pa. — New Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations on unconventional gas drilling take effect Oct. 8. The new rules regulate unconventional drilling practices and hydraulic fracturing, as well as related activities.

“These regulations are a long time in coming and have undergone one of the most transparent and participatory processes ever overseen by DEP,” said Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

The new rules, which have been under development since 2011, are the first modernization of the Commonwealth’s oil and gas surface regulations since the implementation of new horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques to capture natural gas from Pennsylvania’s shale deposits.

Many of the changes to the regulations were made to comply with the 2012 Oil and Gas Act (known as Act 13).

What’s new

Among the changes to the current regulations:

  • Improved protections of public resources: DEP can require additional protective measures if drilling would be near school property and playgrounds, parks, forests, and other public resources.
  • Strengthened water supply restoration standards: If oil and gas development degrades a water supply, the operator must restore or replace the supply with one that meets Safe Drinking Water Act standards or is as good as pre-drilling conditions if the water supply was better than the Drinking Water Act standards.
  • Electronic filing: In order to more efficiently track well development and operations, and to provide better public access to drilling data, operators will be required to submit electronic forms rather than paper.

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