The DEP will hold three public hearings on these latest revisions. This is our last chance to weigh in on Chapter 78 and 78a of the PA code (78a, which addresses unconventional “fracked” wells, begins on page 121).
Add your voice at the upcoming hearings to submit concerns about the final rule and to show your support for strong drilling standards. We need our regulators to prioritize our health and communities – to reduce toxic air pollution, preserve our waterways and prevent the harmful fragmentation of our natural lands.
Listed below are a few of our comments and concerns. We continue to review the proposed rule and will incorporate updates here. You are welcome to use these points to guide your testimony. Feel free to contact us at souter-kline [at] pennfuture.org, with any questions.
PennFuture Chapter 78 and 78a rulemaking comments and concerns:
- We support the DEP’s decision to prohibit new on-site pits for storage of flowback wastewater at unconventional operations, and to require those pits that are currently in use to be closed.
- The revised rule makes clear that earth disturbance operations must comply with the agency’s Chapter 102 regulations, use best management practices for erosion and sedimentation control and stormwater management, and incorporate the agency’s forest buffer guidance. Further, unconventional well operators that propose to work in a high quality or exceptional value watershed must comply with the anti-degradation requirements of Chapter 102.These improvements will help to protect our most pristine waterways from degradation due to erosion and deforestation.
- The revised rule recognizes that schools and playgrounds are important public resources, and requires an operator proposing to locate a well within 200 feet to demonstrate what will be done to avoid or mitigate harm to that resource. PennFuture continues to have serious concerns about the impact of air pollution caused by shale gas drilling operations on our children. Young lungs are especially vulnerable to pollution and we would like to see expanded buffers around schools.
- PennFuture supports the proposal that any affected drinking water supplies must be restored either to Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) standards or, if pre-existing water quality was higher than SDWA standards, to the better pre-existing condition.
- While we support including a noise mitigation plan requirement, we are concerned that the provision will not result in meaningful noise reduction or control at well sites. As outlined, the noise requirement is vaguely worded and fails to set an objective standard for evaluating problems, making it difficult, if not impossible, to assess compliance.