New Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Law Targets Unconventional Gas Operations for Heightened Regulatory Oversight



On February 8, 2012, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a sweeping reform of the key environmental protection regime that governs natural gas operations. House Bill 1950 (“HB 1950” or “the bill”), awaiting the Governor’s signature, provides a wide-ranging update to and recodification of the Commonwealth’s Oil and Gas Act (the “Act”). In addition to extensive revisions to the Act’s environmental regulatory provisions, HB 1950 also addresses drilling fees and local regulation of the industry, each discussed in companion alerts.

The prior Oil and Gas Act (58 P.S. §§601.101-601.605) is recodified as a new Chapter 32 in title 58 of Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (Pa.C.S.). While the new law still applies to all oil and gas operations in the state, much of the new language in Chapter 32 targets unconventional (i.e., shale) natural gas drilling operations that utilize hydraulic fracturing. The industry should quickly become familiar with the updates to discern their effect on existing operations and enable meaningful participation in forthcoming regulatory revisions. Some of the most important amendments, detailed more fully below, include: 

  • Increased setbacks and well siting restrictions
  • New chemical disclosure and reporting obligations
  • Additional well permitting procedures, plans, and approvals
  • New water supply protections
  • Increased bonding requirements
  • Stricter enforcement mechanisms

The Oil and Gas Act

First enacted in 1984, the Oil and Gas Act has long provided many of the key environmental safeguards that shape the operations of natural gas drillers in the Commonwealth. To implement the Act, the Environmental Quality Board (“EQB”) has adopted oil and gas well regulations at 25 Pa. Code Chapter 78, and those rules govern administration of the regulatory program by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”). The Chapter 78 regulations, which were overhauled in February 2011, fill-out the Act’s currently effective requirements. Thus, changes to the Act will necessarily mean changes to the regulations, at least where the regulations are inconsistent with the Act’s new features...

Please see full alert below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© K&L Gates LLP | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.