COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120
NATURAL GAS EXPLORATION,
EXTRACTION WILL NOT COME AT NATURAL RESOURCES’ EXPENSE, SAYS DEP
Pennsylvania Convenes Summit with Environmental Partners to Outline
State’s Laws, Regulations for Natural Gas Industry
06/13/2008 HARRISBURG – With Pennsylvania facing record interest
from the natural gas industry, Department of Environmental
Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty today said taking advantage
of the state’s energy resources is important to the its economy and
the nation’s interests, but doing so must be balanced against the
need to protect its natural resources.
Speaking at a first-of-its-kind summit today attended by
approximately 150 representatives of the oil and gas industry,
McGinty said improving technology and higher energy prices are
making it easier and more attractive for drilling companies to
explore and extract natural gas, but that activity must be done in
accordance with the state’s environmental laws and regulations.
“The economics of the energy industry are driving an incredible
level of interest in Pennsylvania’s natural resources,” said McGinty.
“In three of the last four
years, we’ve set a new record in terms of the number of permits
issued to drill here, and this year could bring another record.
“This activity can be a tremendous economic boon for our state’s
citizens and industries, especially at a time when natural gas
prices are at record highs.
However, developing our energy
resources cannot come at the expense of our environmental
resources—our water, our land and our ecosystems.
“This summit provides us an opportunity to come together to ensure
the owners and operators of drilling operations—both those that are
in state and those from elsewhere—have a clear understanding of our
laws and regulations.
These rules are in place to
protect our natural treasures and we will not compromise on them.”
Much of the new drilling activity taking place in Pennsylvania is
targeted at reaching the natural gas found in the Marcellus Shale
Up until recently, those
natural gas deposits were either inaccessible or reaching them was
cost prohibitive because the Marcellus Shale is much deeper than
formations where traditional gas fields are located.
However, new drilling techniques, extraction methods and higher
energy costs have brought drilling activities to areas of the state
unaccustomed to such operations.
Pennsylvania has experienced a
steady growth in oil and natural gas exploration over the past eight
years, with a record number of permits issued during 2004, 2005 and
During 2007, the number of
permits issued leveled off at 7,241, but based on activity so far
this year, DEP expects a slight increase.
The department has issued 2,510 permits in 2008 to date.
Developing the Marcellus Shale formation requires significant
amounts of fresh water. Recent inspections by DEP and its partners
have uncovered violations that threaten the state’s water resources
and its environment.
The violations include poorly
constructed and dangerous water impoundments, inadequate erosion and
sediment controls, improper waste and fluid disposal, and improper
and unregistered withdrawals of water from streams.
The commonwealth is addressing those issues, said McGinty.
“Over the past few weeks, DEP inspectors have observed a number of
violations at drilling sites operated by companies that were new to
Pennsylvania,” said McGinty.
“In light of those discoveries,
we acted quickly to stop this harmful activity and felt it was
necessary to bring all current and potential operators together to
meet directly with the agencies responsible for protecting our water
and other natural resources.”
On May 30, DEP ordered the
partial shutdown of two drilling operations in Lycoming County and
began enhanced inspections of drilling operations statewide.
In addition to today’s summit, DEP is scheduling formal conferences
with current and prospective gas exploration companies to review
permit requirements and discuss the proper storage and disposal of
drilling and fracing (pronounced fracking) fluids and the
registration of water withdrawals.
DEP regulates oil and gas exploration and drilling under the state
oil and gas laws, the Clean Streams Law, the Dam Safety Act, the
Solid Waste Management Act, and the Water Resources Act.
The department was joined today by other agencies responsible for
protecting Pennsylvania’s natural resources including the Department
of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Fish and
Boat Commission, the Susquehanna and Delaware river basin
commissions, and the state’s county conservation districts.
For more information, visit
keyword: Oil and Gas.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA