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PA Grade Crude [Oil] Development Advisory Council Meets Aug. 18 On Road Dumping Drilling Wastewater; Methane Regs, Conventional Regs, Well Plugging, More
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DCED’s PA Grade Crude [Oil] Development Advisory Council is scheduled to meet in State College on August 18 to discuss issues related to conventional oil and gas drilling.

The agenda includes--

-- Presentation by Dr. Burgos of Penn State Study on road dumping conventional drilling wastewater

-- Update on new federal conventional oil & gas well plugging program

-- Discussion of final regulations reducing VOC/methane emissions from conventional oil and gas operations [See letter.]

-- Legislative Update

-- Economic Update on the industry

See more information below on items expected to be discussed.

Available handouts for the meeting include--

-- Draft Minutes April 21, 2022 Meeting (needs a vote)

-- Final Draft 2021 CDAC Annual Report (needs a final vote);

-- July 28 Letter To DEP From Conventional Industry Groups On VOC/Methane Regulation [Assumes DEP is developing a separate regulation from scratch to cover conventional facilities, which would not meet EPA's December 16, 2022 deadline to avoid loss of $500 million in federal highway funds.]

The meeting will be held at the Technology Center, 200 Innovation Blvd, Room 157 in State College starting at 10:00 a.m.

The meeting will be available remotely via Microsoft Teams - Meeting ID: 254 032 322 395. Passcode: bpPC5T and via Conference Call: +1 267-332-8737, ID: 518 218 645#.

For more information, visit DCED’s PA Grade Crude [Oil] Development Advisory Council webpage.  Questions should be directed to Adam Walters, adwalters@pa.gov or call 717-214-6548.

Expected Agenda Items

These are some of the issues expected to be discussed at the meeting--

-- Penn State Study Of Road Dumping Drilling Wastewater: Dr. William Burgos, lead author of a new Penn State University study of road dumping conventional oil and gas wastewater released in May is expected to give a presentation on the results of the study.

Dr. Burgos already did a public presentation of the study results to DEP’s Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board on July 25.  Read more here.

The study found runoff from spreading conventional oil and gas wastewater on unpaved roads contains concentrations of barium, strontium, lithium, iron, manganese that exceed human-health based criteria and levels of radioactive radium that exceed industrial discharge standards.

“The story for all of these brines is whatever you put on the road, it's washing off into the adjoining ditch,” said Dr. Burgos.  “And then in the case of oil and gas produced waters, especially that one sort of regional average one with the highest radium activity had the highest concentrations of radium in the runoff, both in the first flush and mobilized with solids.”

“With respect to efficacy, as we showed through the dust generation experiments, they're little to no more effective than simply rainwater or going out and watering your roads, if you want to do that,” Dr. Burgos added.  Read more here.

-- Gov. Wolf Orders Evaluation Of Conventional Oil & Gas Compliance: On July 30, Gov. Wolf directed the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct an evaluation of how it regulates conventional oil and gas wells to prevent new abandoned wells, tighten review of permit transfers, review compliance with environmental safeguards and make recommendations for changes and actions, including criminal sanctions.

The evaluation was outlined by Gov. Wolf in a formal statement published in the July 30 PA Bulletin and comes in the wake of the Governor allowing House Bill 2644 to become law without his signature.   Read more here.

-- New Law Blocking Increase In Conventional Oil & Well Plugging Bonds:  On July 19, Joe Adams, Acting Executive Deputy Secretary For Programs, told the DEP Citizens Advisory Council “certainly there are concerns” about how the new law blocking increases in conventional oil and gas well bonding will impact the funding Pennsylvania is in line to receive under the new federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to plug abandoned conventional oil and gas wells.

Kurt Klapkowski, Acting Deputy for Oil and Gas Management, said the new state law may also have an impact on whether DEP can meet federal requirements for regulating oil and gas drilling wastewater injection wells.

On July 18, Gov. Wolf let House Bill 2644 (Causer-R-Cameron) become law without his signature.  It is now Act 96.

The bill blocks any increase in conventional oil and gas well plugging bonds for 10 years, continues exempting pre-1985 wells (which is most of the 100,500 active conventional wells) from any bonding leaving taxpayers liable for $5.1 billion in cleanup costs.  Read more here.

-- New Federal Conventional Oil & Gas Well Plugging Program: DEP continues to work on developing an implementation plan for the new federal conventional oil and gas well plugging program funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

DEP recently invited stakeholders to be part of workgroup sessions on program development.  Read more here.

-- Updating Conventional Oil & Gas Environmental Protection Regulations: DEP is now in the process of updating conventional oil and gas environmental protection and waste disposal and handling standards, after the last comprehensive update was killed by the General Assembly in 2016.  Read more here.

The first of two regulatory packages is expected to come before the Environmental Quality Board for action in the next few months, according to comments by Kurt Klapkowski, Acting DEP Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management, at the July 25 meeting of DEP’s Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board.

The second package-- dealing primarily with waste disposal, handling and similar  requirements-- may not be ready to go back before oil and gas advisory committees until the December 18 meeting of the PA Grade Crude [Oil] Development Advisory Council meets.

The last draft of the waste handling regulation update was posted by DEP in September, 2021.

However, that draft did not address many key issues, like continuing to allow the road dumping of conventional oil and gas wastewater on dirt and gravel roads.

It also did not address the issue of conventional oil and gas operators creating thousands of dumpsites across the state through practices allowing on-site disposal of drill cuttings and drilling wastewater.  Read more here.

-- Conventional Drillers Oppose Final DEP Regulation Reducing VOC/Methane Emissions: DEP has determined conventional facilities cause 80 percent of natural gas leaks for all oil and gas facilities in the state, and unconventional shale gas facilities account for 20 percent. [Read more here.]

The conventional oil and gas industry is lobbying hard against a final Environmental Quality Board regulation that must be finalized by December 16 which would require significantly reducing natural gas leaks from their oil and gas facilities.  [Read more here.] 

Failure to meet the EPA requirement by December 16 will mean the loss of at least $500 million federal highway funds to Pennsylvania.  [Read more here.]

DEP expects to present a regulation to the Environmental Quality Board covering conventional oil and gas facilities “soon.”

NewsClips This Week:

-- StateImpact PA - Rachel McDevitt: Penn State Researchers Find Spreading Conventional Drilling Wastewater On PA Roads Can Lead To Harmful Runoff

-- Tribune-Democrat: Study: Spreading Drilling Wastewater On PA Dirt Roads Poses Risks To Health, Environment

-- Bedford Gazette: Study: Drilling Wastewater On PA Roads Dangerous To Human Health, Environment

-- WESA: Researchers Find Spreading Drilling Wastewater On PA Roads Can Lead To Harmful Runoff

-- Journal Of Petroleum Technology: Study: Drilling Waste On Pennsylvania Roads Bad For Health, Land

-- Capital & Main - Audrey Carleton: PA Legislators Stall Oil & Gas Facility Emission Regulation

-- Sharon Herald Editorial: House Committee Irresponsible By Opposing Drilling Regulations [Regulations To Reduce VOC/Methane Emissions From Oil & Gas Facilities] 

Related Articles:

-- Conventional Oil & Natural Gas Drilling: An Industrial Machine Moving Across The PA Countryside Leaving Behind Big Liabilities & Spreading Pollution Everywhere It Goes

-- Gov. Wolf Announces Evaluation Of How DEP Regulates Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling & The Industry’s Compliance With Environmental Safeguards

-- Penn State Study: Potential Pollution Caused By Road Dumping Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Makes It Unsuitable For A Dust Suppressant, Washes Right Off The Road Into The Ditch

-- DEP Inviting Stakeholders To Participate In Workgroups On New Federal Conventional Oil & Gas Well Plugging Program

-- DEP Concerned About Impact Of New Law Blocking Conventional Oil & Gas Well Bonding On New Federal Well Plugging Funds, Regulating Waste Injection Wells

[Posted: August 12, 2022]


8/15/2022

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