Jan 24, 2012

Pennsylvania DEP Announces Revised Erosion and Sediment Control Permit for Review

Public comments accepted on revised permit for earth disturbance associated with oil and gas activities

Public comments accepted on revised permit for earth disturbance associated with oil and gas activitiesThe Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced it has submitted a revised version of its erosion and sediment control general permit for earth disturbance associated with oil and gas activities for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, along with four other supporting documents, including a draft permit application and a policy explaining the permit requirements. DEP will accept comments on the documents from Jan. 21 to March 21.

DEP revised the permit and the associated documents to incorporate recent regulatory revisions, to improve the administration of the program and to implement changes agreed to in a settlement with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Talisman Energy USA Inc. and Ultra Resources Inc.

“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,” said DEP secretary Mike Krancer.

The permit mandates protection of waterways and watersheds from sediment runoff during construction disturbing more than five acres over the life of an oil- or gas-related project. The agency may also revoke from licensed professionals the ability to request expedited permit reviews if they routinely submit applications under the general permit that have administrative or technical problems. DEP will no longer offer expedited review of permit applications for projects that have the potential to discharge sediment and runoff to exceptional-value or high-quality watersheds, have well pads that lie within floodplains, or would take place on contaminated lands.

For permit applications that do qualify for the expedited review process, DEP will complete its review and return a decision within 14 days from the submission of a complete and accurate application. In other cases, staff will complete the review within 60 days. The draft policy provides guidance on the operators' obligation to implement best management practices for erosion and sediment control, and to restore and stabilize a well site within nine months of completing the well.

When submitting a notice of intent to construct, operators must also demonstrate that their post-construction storm water management plans are consistent with county storm water management requirements.

Written comments may be submitted on the draft technical guidance document for 60 days after publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. DEP will accept comments submitted by email to [email protected]; no comments submitted by facsimile will be accepted.