Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Drilling Rules Passed by Environmental Board

Pennsylvania's Environmental Quality Board passed updated regulations for natural gas drilling yesterday, requiring drillers to build higher-quality wells and report more information to the public.

The new rules would mandate better casing and piping in wells to prevent natural gas from escaping in the extraction process. Energy companies would also need to report the chemicals used to hydraulically fracture shale formations, in addition to publicizing the volume of waste they produce. Finally, the rules would reduce the maximum pressure for gas wells and require drillers to restore any water supplies they pollute.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger says the new environmental regulations will be the toughest in the country.

Hanger says enforcement of the new rules will be crucial to their success. Hanger says since he took office, he has doubled the amount of inspection staff for Marcellus Shale gas wells.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, a group of energy companies, supports the new regulations. Coalition President Kathryn Klaber says the group wants to change the mindset that drillers don't care about the environment.

The proposed regulations will now move to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and legislative committees before they can be made law.

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