Statement from PennEnvironment regarding the final Chapter 78 and 78a Oil and Gas Rules submitted to EQB
[Philadelphia] – After years of public input and review, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) took a major step in the regulatory process to mitigate the impacts of fracking on Pennsylvania’s environment and communities by finalizing new fracking regulations, known as the “Chapter 78” regulations.
As DEP submits them to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB), PennEnvironment hopes for a speedy finalization of these rules by the summer of 2016. This regulatory package is long overdue, given that the fracking industry has been operating in the Commonwealth for a decade without updated regulations. It is critical that, after a rigorous administrative and public engagement process, these regulatory measures are pushed over the finish line.
PennEnvironment applauds DEP for including the following policies in their final Chapter 78 proposal:
- Banning the use of open-air waste storage pits at fracking sites;
- Establishing minimum distances that fracking wells must be from schools and playgrounds;
- Monitoring and improving clean up of abandoned well sites.
While these measures are a step in the right direction, there is still much to be done to ensure the health and safety of Pennsylvanians with respect to oil and gas drilling. PennEnvironment will continue to advocate for the strongest possible protections against the worst impacts of fracking for Pennsylvanians. This is crucial due to indisputable evidence that oil and gas companies—many of the richest corporations on the planet—are either unable or unwilling to frack safely.
PennEnvironment commends DEP’s extensive efforts to engage the general public in this effort. It demonstrates that the democratic process can work when the public is informed, invested, and involved.
Over the last four years, PennEnvironment has worked hard to educate and activate the Commonwealth's residents around the Chapter 78 proposal and around fracking in general. This has included the collection of thousands of comments during the Chapter 78 public comment process, garnering statewide media attention around this proposal and the opportunities for public input, and educating hundreds of thousands of people through our online network, phones, and mail. Overwhelmingly, public input called for stronger protections—even urging DEP to go further than they did with their Chapter 78 proposal.
This is a great way for Pennsylvanians to ring in 2016: DEP finalizing long-awaited and desperately needed rules to reduce the impacts of fracking on both our environment and our communities.
We look forward to working with DEP to use this important first step as a springboard to implement further protections that are so sorely needed from fracking in Pennsylvania. PennEnvironment and our citizen members and activists are energized and prepared to keep up the good fight on this important issue.