Public hearing set on proposed gas and oil regulation changes
Fracking’s rules are about to change. For members of the public who want to weigh in before the draft regulations become final, the Environmental Quality Board will hold a public hearing 6 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Pennsylvania College of Technology Klump Academic Center.
“Public participation is a key part to forging the best regulations possible,” state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Chris Abruzzo said.
Among the proposed changes are new standards for spill prevention, waste management and minimizing impacts to parks and wildlife areas, according to the DEP press release. The new rulemaking also would require operators to identify abandoned wells within 1,000 feet of the vertical and horizontal well bores prior to hydraulic fracturing, a measure aimed at preventing methane migration.
“One focus of this regulation is to protect the vast water resources throughout Pennsylvania,” an Aug. 27, 2013, DEP fact sheet on the regulation changes states.
DEP is proposing secondary containment systems be used at all unconventional well sites and that those systems be “inspected by the operator at least weekly to ensure integrity,” according to the fact sheet.
The new regulations also would require tank valves and access lids to be locked and pits to be fenced in to prevent vandalism and damage from wildlife, according to the fact sheet.
The draft regulations can be viewed by clicking the “Proposed Oil and Gas Regulations” icon on DEP’s homepage, www.dep.state.pa.us.
People wishing to present verbal testimony at the public hearing must contact the EQB at 717-787-4526 by Monday to reserve a time. Witness testimony is limited to five minutes and witnesses are requested to submit three written copies of their testimony to the hearing chairperson.
“All relevant written and oral comments that are received at a public hearing will be considered when finalizing the regulation,” the press release states.
DEP also will hold a webinar 9:30 a.m. Friday to present information and answer questions on the proposed regulations.
The public comment period for the new rules will close Feb. 12. Those unable to attend the hearing can submit comments online at www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/RegComments, by email at RegComments@pa.gov or by postal mail to Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105.