September 16, 2009, Press Connects: Marcellus regulations delayed DEC plans release for end of month

Marcellus regulations delayed

DEC plans release for end of month

By Tom Wilber • twilber@gannett.com • Staff Writer • September 16, 2009

A much-anticipated draft of new regulations for drilling into the Marcellus Shale will not be released by Tuesday as expected, but DEC officials said it will come before the end of the month.

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The amended state regulations follow a review of the industry that began in the summer of 2007 to address concerns over drilling’s impact on water and the environment. The regulatory update must be complete before full-scale natural gas development can proceed in the Southern Tier.

Originally, the review was expected by the beginning of summer. The time frame was extended in the face of persistent public concern over how the drilling, and a process called hydro-fracturing, will affect water supplies and the landscape.

Officials moved the anticipated release date of the regulatory update to the end of summer, which is Tuesday.

The delays have come because of the vast scope of the issue and the intensity of public interest it has generated, said Lori Severino, a spokeswoman for the agency. Last year, thousands of Southern Tier residents attended public meetings held to debate the future of drilling in the Marcellus area, and it’s economic and environmental fallout.

The shale formation is one of the largest natural gas reserves in the country, extending from the Southern Tier throughout Pennsylvania, and parts of Ohio and West Virginia.

"It’s a very thorough review and a unique situation," Severino said. "There is a lot of staff involved, and they want to make sure it is as complete as possible before it goes to the public for comment."

The DEC will extend the standard comment period of 30 days, although no decision has been made about the exact time frame, Severino said.

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