New regulations continue to be developed regarding the oil and fracking industry in Pennsylvania. The Department of Environmental Protection has finalized some regulations regarding both new and old wells throughout the state, following some controversy regarding whether these regulations could be initiated on a state level. These new oil and gas regulations have been in the works for nearly five years and have undergone numerous adjustments and modifications. The intent of these regulations are to protect the surrounding environment, but some believe that it represents regulatory overreach.
The New Regulations in Pennsylvania
The new rules for the oil and gas industry are fairly extensive, covering thousands of pages. However, there are some changes that are more notable than others. In particular, unconventional drillers (specifically, frackers on the Marcellus Shale) are now under additional restrictions. Fracking pits are no longer allowed, which are generally used for flowback purposes, and residual waste permits will be needed for some drillers. These changes are all designed to protect the groundwater from potential leaks. Additionally, if groundwater leaks or other infiltration does occur, drillers will be required to restore the water to Safe Drinking Water Act standards.
These are not the only changes that target Marcellus Shale drillers. A few other changes include the inability to use brine to suppress dust, the inability to de-ice with brine, and the inability to store waste in pits. Wastewater disposal has long been a debated component of the fracking process. Oil and gas companies are also expected to adhere to standards of increased transparency and utilize technology in order to both improve data management and regulatory compliance.
Controversy Amidst Unconventional Drillers
Unconventional drillers on the Marcellus Shale have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Environmental Protection, citing concerns that the new regulations may be stepping into federal jurisdictions. If this is found to be true, the new regulations would not be enforceable in Pennsylvania, and unconventional drillers could instead follow the regulatory standards that have been set by the federal government. For unconventional drillers, the new regulations will undoubtedly make drilling not only a slower but a less profitable process. In a time when the oil and gas industry is suffering from crippled per barrel prices, these additional costs could be significant. The DEP, on the other hand, believes that the new regulations that have been proposed are fair and balanced and that they are designed to protect the environment rather than stifle the industry.
Though the new oil and gas regulations are designed for environmental protection, oil and gas companies argue that they have been taking their own action to protect the environment and reduce risks. For more information about safety in the oil and gas industry, contact the containment experts at Keystone Containment Contractors today.