Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Regulations Would Tighten Gas Drilling Standards

A proposal to update Pennsylvania’s natural gas drilling regulations has moved from the public comment phase to an Independent Regulatory Review Commission.

Clean Water Advocate Erika Staaf of PennEnvironment says the regulations would require three things: safer wells, a list of the toxic chemicals used in the drilling process and quarterly well inspections.

Staaf says while the new “Chapter 78” rules would be an important step forward, she says the proposal should be stricter in regulating the return of hydraulic fracturing fluid to waterways once it’s been treated.

“The quality of the restored or the replaced water supply will be considered adequate if it’s comparable to the unaffected water supply, even if that original water supply didn’t meet drinking water standards. We believe that it is unconscionable that a gas driller could supply someone with drinking water that does not meet drinking water standards.”

Staaf says more than 2,000 people commented on the proposed regulations.

Standing legislative committees and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission will comment on the proposal before sending it to the Department of Environmental Protection. From there, a final version will have to pass through those regulatory bodies again before being okayed by the state Attorney General.

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