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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 10-552



[ 25 PA. CODE CH. 23 ]

Acceptance of Rulemaking Petition for Study

[40 Pa.B. 1635]
[Saturday, March 27, 2010]

 On March 16, 2010, the Environmental Quality Board (Board) accepted a rulemaking petition for study under 25 Pa. Code Chapter 23 (relating to Environmental Quality Board Policy for processing petitions—statement of policy). The petition, submitted by the Stephenson Group Natural Gas Company, requests the amendment of 25 Pa. Code §§ 78.51 and 78.52 (relating to protection of water supplies; and predrilling or prealteration survey) to clarify procedures a well operator must adhere to in order to rebut the presumption of liability for contamination of a water supply within 1,000 feet of a proposed well. Under the Oil and Gas Act (58 P. S. §§ 601.101—601.605), a well operator is presumed to have contaminated a water supply if a well is drilled within 1,000 feet of a water supply and the supply becomes contaminated within 6 months. An operator can rebut the presumption of liability if the operator took a sample from the water supply prior to drilling and the test results show that the condition preexisted drilling, or the owner of the water supply refused to grant the operator access to test the supply. The petitioner claims that it is problematic if not difficult to ascertain the ownership or the right of a purveyor of a water supply, thus making it difficult to notify these parties. The petitioner proposes to amend 25 Pa. Code Chapter 78 (relating to oil and gas wells) to add a provision that would ''deem'' the well operator to have been refused access to test the supply if the operator sends two separate certified letters to the water supply owner and the owner either refuses to accept the letters or the letters are unclaimed or are undeliverable.

 In lieu of proceeding with § 23.6 (relating to notice of acceptance and Department report) of the Board's Policy for Processing Petitions, which requires the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) to prepare a report evaluating the petition within 60 days, the Department will review the petitioner's suggested amendments as it proceeds with a proposed rulemaking to amend Chapter 78. At 40 Pa.B. 623 (January 30, 2010), the Department requested comments on proposed changes to regulations it is developing for Chapter 78 regarding the construction of oil and gas wells. As the Department proceeds with amendments to Chapter 78, it will address the petitioner's recommendations within the proposed rulemaking package.

 The previously-referenced petition is available to the public by contacting the Environmental Quality Board, P. O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477, (717) 787-4526 and is accessible on the Department's web site (select ''Public Participation;'' ''Public Participation Center;'' ''Environmental Quality Board;'' ''Meeting/Agendas Handouts/Minutes;'' ''March 16, 2010'').


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 10-552. Filed for public inspection March 26, 2010, 9:00 a.m.]

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