New Drilling Study Highlights Regulation Reform

Recently, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council released a study on Marcellus Shale drilling focusing on what Pennsylvania needs to do to ensure responsible development of this newly tapped resources.

As expected, the majority of the recommendations would create more red tape (PA drilling is already heavily regulated). The panel also endorsed the new and unreasonable water standards, which call for a 500 milligrams per liter cap on the total dissolved solids (TDS) concentrations in water disposed after natural gas production. In context, that’s nearly twice the TDS concentration in San Pellegrino Mineral Water.

But one proposal caught my attention. The study recommends looking to Colorado and its Comprehensive Drilling Plan (CDP):

Under this voluntary program, the CDP allows one or more well operators to initiate a comprehensive permit application review process as an alternative to only submitting individual permit applications. Multiple well cite operations proposed and/or reasonably foreseeable by the permit applicants in an identified geographic region within a geologic basin are afforded the same comprehensive permit application.

There is no lack of regulations in Pennsylvania, since we have a long history of oil and natural gas extraction. And unlike Pennsylvania, Colorado producers can streamline the permitting process, which encourages accountability without stifling growth.