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Environment & Energy

Former DEP Secretary Wants Stronger State Regulations on Gas Drilling

Democratic candidate for governor John Hanger wants to see tougher regulations on the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania.

During a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection hearing, Hanger proposed his 19-point program to increase regulations on gas drilling. Among other changes, Hanger proposed: stronger enforcement of air emissions; extending the minimum distance between a well site and public land; prohibiting the use of outdoor pits for wastewater storage; and adding 105 employees to enforce regulations.

Current regulations require gas-drilling sites to be a minimum of 200 feet from any state parks or forests; Hanger proposes increasing this minimum to 2500 feet. According to Hanger, gas wells within this distance could have a significant impact on a state park and its visitors.

Hanger said there has been a “complete breakdown in public confidence in the oversight and regulation of the gas industry across Pennsylvania.” Hanger hopes his proposals would restore this confidence and decrease the environmental impact that gas drilling has on the environment.

“Its appropriate to modernize and update rules as technology improves, so I give the department credit for proposing new rules," he said. "The problem is they proposed changes that are much too weak."

According to Hanger, the DEP’s new proposals only address land and water contamination and ignore the protection of air quality. He says, new technology can cut air emissions by 90 percent, which he would make mandatory.

“Our rules in Pennsylvania should require that when a compression station gets built it installs the most modern pollution controls, and it may even run on electricity or natural gas as opposed to burning diesel and causing a lot of new air emissions,” Hanger said.