PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pennsylvania's oil and gas drilling regulations are well-managed overall, but several key areas could be improved, according to a review released Monday by a group financed by the federal government and industry organizations.
A six-person team from the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations, Inc., found that state regulations generally meet or exceed a basic set of national guidelines.
But the review also said that water protection standards could be improved, that some oversight programs still don't have enough staff to deal with the recent boom in shale gas drilling, and that public information isn't presented in a user-friendly way online.
"This review demonstrates that the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania is matched by world-class oil and gas management and regulations," said Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary Chris Abruzzo, adding that the agency will work to implement the recommendations of the report.
One member of the team — made up of two regulators from other states, two representatives from environmental groups, two industry representatives, and outside observers — said the public should be aware that it was a technical review of existing rules, not a list of everything needed to regulate the industry.
Katy Dunlap, an Eastern water project director for Trout Unlimited, said DEP should be commended for strengthening some regulations in response to the shale gas drilling boom, but that there are still areas where they can be improved.
"It's absolutely a Trout Unlimited concern," Dunlap said of the areas that need work.
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