The state Environmental Quality Board (EQB) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will hold hearings next month on a proposed package of regulations that would govern surface operations of oil and gas producers.
The regulations were preliminarily approved by the EQB, a 20 member independent board, in August. They would set new guidelines for storing materials on well sites, protecting waterways, and preventing abandoned wells from becoming contaminated.
DEP spokeswoman Lisa Kasianowitz said they’re expecting heavy attendance at the hearings and thousands of comments.
She said past regulations have been changed after the agency heard from the public.
“Public comments do have the potential to impact the regulation,” said Kasianowitz. “And what staff would do is just update the regulation and place them (the changes) online so that people can see them.”
After the hearings and public comment period ends, the DEP and EQB will organize the comments so that every relevant question is answered. They will then be compiled into a single document and made public.
Kasianowitz said the regulations still have a long process to go through.
“It is probably going to be about a year and a half until these regulations become finalized. And, from now until then, it still has multiple stages to go through,” said Kasianowitz. “I mean more than multiple stages. It has to be checked, and rechecked, and checked, and rechecked.”
Hearings begin on Jan. 7 in Wyoming County with one planned in Washington County on Jan. 22. People not attending the meetings can make comments online beginning Saturday.