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Fracking fluid and other drilling wastes are dumped into an unlined pit. (Image: Sarah Craig/Faces of Fracking via Flickr)

No fracking pits allowed under new DEP regs for oil and gas industry

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Wednesday made available thousands of pages of documents outlining new rules for the oil and gas industry.

Among the trove of public documents are increased regulations for unconventional drillers, which apply to companies extracting natural resources from the Marcellus Shale. All of it can be found here.

Some of the biggest changes include “a prohibition on all pits,” such as the pits used for drill cuttings and flowback fluids.

A driller that still wants to use a centralized impoundment will need a residual waste permit, in addition to DEP permits.

Regulators say the changes are necessary after a number of cases in which pits and impoundments were found to be leaking.

“The risks all too often have been realized in Pennsylvania,” said Scott Perry, deputy secretary of DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas Management.

There’s no greater goal than making sure there are no impacts to groundwater, he said.

A PennLive investigation last year showed the state department knew for several years that fracking pits and impoundments were leaking before taking action.

That negligence largely occurred during the previous administration, the investigation determined.

Related: Wheatfield fracking moratorium effective immediately

Pa. regulators fail to protect environment during Marcellus Shale boom

Since taking office this year, Secretary John Quigley has vowed to make the agency adhere to its mission of protecting the state’s environment and public health.

He reiterated that promise during a conference call Wednesday with reporters and other listeners.

According to a slideshow presented during the call, the new rules:

These new rules, an update to Act 13 in 2012, come more than 10 years into the Marcellus Shale boom in Pennsylvania.

When asked if the regulatory process has taken too long, Quigley reminded reporters he’s been in office a little less than a year.

The process “is what it is,” he said. “It’s essential now that we finish this job. That’s what we’re focused on.”

Gov. Wolf’s DEP chief leading agency through high cuts, low times

Quigley called the new regulations a “midpoint, not an end point.”

“We’re roughly a decade into what could be a hundred year” shale development, he said.

By that estimation, the state is still in the early days of the shale play, Quigley said.

“It’s essential…we continuously improve,” he said.

The new rules will now move to the Environmental Quality Board and are expected to be enacted early this summer.

DEP aware of environmental violations years before fining Marcellus Shale drillers

Related: Taking a stance against fracking waste

This article was written by Candy Woodall from The Patriot-News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.