Monday, January 23, 2012

Pennsylvania Changes Drilling Rules

The Department of Environmental Protection announced new guidelines on Friday preventing certain oil and gas drilling projects, including those near high-value streams, from receiving an expedited permit review. Those revised rules, which will also cover proposed drilling sites that lie within floodplains or involve contaminated lands, stems from a settlement reached last summer with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Talisman Energy USA Inc. and Ultra Resources Inc.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation had filed a complaint in 2009 challenging the agency's process for expediting permits, pointing to several incomplete erosion-and-sediment control permits. They reached a settlement with DEP nearly two years later, under which the agency agreed to revise its process.

Permits that still qualify to be expedited will be processed within 14 days, while others may be reviewed for up to 60 days. The agency also now may revoke an applicant's ability to request expedited reviews if they routinely submit problematic applications.
Myron Arnowitt, of the environmental advocacy group Clean Water Action, said the new process is an improvement, although he noted his group would like to see the accelerated process removed entirely.
 I'm reasonably sure they would prefer no drilling whatsoever, but I don't think that's in the cards.

I find this article very unsatisfactory. It doesn't say what the conditions that ordinarily allow for expedited drilling.  Is it in areas that have already been worked in, and the situation is already well known from previous studies? How did the new rulings change the qualifications for expedited drilling? Have there been any problems with drilling in areas that have had expedited drilling? I would like more information before I decide whether this is a good or bad thing.

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