New rules to modernize well-drilling safeguards in Pennsylvania's booming natural gas
fields are a step closer to enactment. The Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved the changes this morning, and a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) official expects the new regulations to be finalized no later than January.
proposal at its Thursday meeting, and a state environmental
regulatory official expects the rules to become final no later than
The DEP drew up the stricter rules in response to a rush to drill deep, high-pressure wells into the Marcellus Shale formation.
The regulations would reduce the maximum allowable well pressure, improve standards for well cement and pipes and strengthen the response to reports of gas leakage into water wells. 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.
The DEP will also use new electronic reporting requirements to create a publicly available map that shows which chemicals were used at each drilling site.