DEP has new guidelines for oil and gas drilling
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The Department of Environmental Protection announced new guidelines on Friday preventing certain oil and gas drilling projects, including those near high-value streams, from receiving an expedited permit review.
Those revised rules, which will also cover proposed drilling sites that lie within floodplains or involve contaminated lands, stems from a settlement reached last summer with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Talisman Energy USA Inc. and Ultra Resources Inc.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation had filed a complaint in 2009 challenging the agency's process for expediting permits, pointing to several incomplete erosion-and-sediment control permits.
They reached a settlement with DEP nearly two years later, under which the agency agreed to revise its process.
Permits that still qualify to be expedited will be processed within 14 days, while others may be reviewed for up to 60 days. The agency also now may revoke an applicant's ability to request expedited reviews if they routinely submit problematic applications.
"As a result of this agreement, the department has met with stakeholders from industry and environmental organizations to develop a permit that provides both regulatory certainty and continued protection of the state's waterways," DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said.
State officials will accept comments on the new guidelines through March 21.
Myron Arnowitt, of the environmental advocacy group Clean Water Action, said the new process is an improvement, although he noted his group would like to see the accelerated process removed entirely.
First Published January 22, 2012 12:00 am