A Double Whammy for PA Job Creators

The governor continues to insist on hiking natural gas taxes to balance the budget, while bureaucrats are heaping regulatory burdens on Pennsylvania’s most dynamic industry of the past decade.

Delays in the permitting of gas-production activities threaten the viability of gas production, according to testimony presented to the House State Government Committee by Carl Carlson, Range Resource's director of government affairs.

When permits required in Pennsylvania cannot be obtained in a timely manner, operators cannot simply shut down rigs and wait.

Operators that have drilling opportunities in other states where they hold permits will allocate capital to those areas. If those other areas are not in proximity to Pennsylvania, rigs can be permanently lost to the region.

Carlson described lengthening times to obtain approvals for three permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP:

  • The time to get an erosion and sediment control permit from DEP’s Southwest District has increased from 101 days in 2013 to 263 days in 2017. Review times in the Northwest District are 30 percent shorter but still excessive.
  • The time to obtain a permit to drill an oil or gas well in the Southwest District has been two to three times the 45-day statutory limit.
  • DEP’s typical review period for an air permit for gas compressors and processing plants is six months or more, well in excess of the 30 days allowed for the review.

In addition, said Carlson, DEP is proposing a new, 43-page air-quality permit for well sites that would “likely result in a de facto moratorium on drilling” if delays in securing other permits are replicated.


When permits required in Pennsylvania cannot be obtained in a timely manner, operators cannot simply shut down rigs and wait.

Other states, said Carlson, have a simpler process for permitting activities like those associated with gas and oil production that occur hundreds or thousands of times.

DEP claims insufficient state funding and personnel are causing delays, but Carlson doesn't buy it. He notes:

History has shown that as the Bureau of Oil and Gas has grown in size, permit times have lengthened. Other states with far more drilling activity than Pennsylvania manage permitting activities with far fewer agency personnel. Rather than focus on the need for more people, the Department should focus on a more streamlined process and better use of technology to improve productivity.

Mounting red tape, regulatory delays and tax hike uncertainty are hamstringing natural gas job creators and ensuring Pennsylvania's economic stagnation.