Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association President Louis D. D’Amico today issued the following statement regarding the state Department of Environmental Protection’s transmittal of the final oil and natural gas regulations (Chapter 78 and 78a) to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB):

“The development of these regulations over the past four years has been flawed to the point of being fraudulent. The modernization of environmental controls was required by Act 13 for the unconventional industry and yet, despite working on these regulations since 2011, DEP has still not explained or shown the need to make them applicable to the conventional industry.

“The reasonableness of these rulemaking packages is not determined by the volume of materials accompanying them, and DEP’s touting its responses to ‘every one of the almost 28,000 comments’ received is disingenuous because many of those comments were form letters and, more importantly, DEP’s responses come too late in the process to have any legitimacy or merit.

“Just as disingenuous is DEP’s reference to the ’20 meetings with the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board and Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee’ as some type of evidence this has been an ‘exercise in transparency in rulemaking.’  One must remember that in the middle of this rulemaking process this administration quietly replaced all of the long-serving and dedicated TAB members and violated the Oil and Gas Act by trying to add new ‘non-voting’ members, and yet still failed to engage TAB and the Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee in the required ‘consultation’ or to provide both with the required ‘reasonable opportunity to review and comment prior to submission of the packages to the EQB.

“Repeated references by this administration to whatever it proposes as ‘commonsense’ cannot magically transform any of them, especially these rulemakings.  We look forward to pressing on with our fight against this abuse of process and extreme regulatory overreach these rulemakings represent.”

Here is DEP’s news release today announcing that the regulations were being submitted to the Environmental Quality Board:

DEP Sends Final Oil and Gas Rules to Environmental Quality Board
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) transmitted the final “Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites” rulemaking (Chapters 78 and 78a) to the state Environmental Quality Board (EQB) for review today. This step brings the rules closer to enactment, and continues DEP’s commitment to modernizing and strengthening the environmental controls employed by both the conventional and unconventional industries to assure the protection of public health, safety, and the environment.

DEP provided EQB with more than 2,800 pages of materials supporting the rulemaking, including the executive summary, the regulatory language, a fact sheet, the order, and regulatory analysis form. The package also includes the comment and response document, in which every one of the almost 28,000 comments were addressed by DEP. Taken together, the order, regulatory analysis form, and comment and response document provide the justification for the final-form rulemaking.

“These regulatory changes are balanced, incremental and appropriate; protecting public health while enabling responsible drilling to proceed,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley. “These rules are a long time coming — more than 4 years — and were written with an unprecedented amount of public participation and transparency.  We’ve worked hard to ensure that the health and safety of our citizens are protected, and the needs of industry are being met.”

The amendments to the oil and gas regulations address surface activities at 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.
“It’s important to emphasize the role of the public and stakeholders in this process. Across a dozen public hearings, two public comment periods that attracted almost 28,000 comments, and 20 meetings with the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board and Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee, this has been an exercise in transparency in rulemaking,” said Quigley.
“These rules present a distinct, substantive separation of regulatory provisions applicable to conventional and unconventional wells. They will allow the oil and gas industries in Pennsylvania to continue to flourish, while adding additional common-sense environmental and public health safeguards,” he added.
The rulemaking revisions are the first since 2001 to update surface impacts of drilling and production activity. The rulemaking package itself has been in development since 2011.
The Environmental Quality Board will now review the final-form rulemaking package, and once adopted will be reviewed by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
For more information, or to view the rulemaking, click here or visit and click the “Oil and Gas Rulemaking” button.