Pennsylvania environmental regulators are moving to tighten land and water protection rules on shale gas producers, David Conti reports in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“The latest draft of regulations set in motion by Act 13 of 2012, a comprehensive overhaul of drilling laws, would require new permits and standards for open-air wastewater impoundments, where leaks and design problems have led to multimillion-dollar fines against companies over the past year.
“The revisions that Department of Environmental Protection officials outlined Monday would add protective steps that companies must take if they want to drill near a school, playground or wetland; clarify rules on restoring water supplies fouled by gas wells; require more testing for and monitoring of nearby wells; increase regulation of noise around shale wells; and require electronic filing of reports. The department wants to ban waste pits at individual sites, though Deputy Secretary Scott Perry said no companies use those.
“Frankly, the stuff we've read so far, it's things that are being done throughout the industry already by certain operators,” said John Norbeck, acting CEO of the Harrisburg-based environmental group PennFuture.
“Acting DEP Secretary John Quigley, who publicly criticized the use of wastewater impoundments before Gov. Tom Wolf appointed him to head the industry's top regulator, called the latest revision to the proposed rules “a great step forward for responsible drilling in Pennsylvania. My definition of that is protecting public health and the environment while enabling drilling to proceed.”
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