§ 3215. Well location restrictions.
(a) General rule.--Wells may not be drilled within 200 feet, or, in the case of an unconventional gas well, 500 feet, measured horizontally from the vertical well bore to a building or water well, existing when the copy of the plat is mailed as required by section 3211(b) (relating to well permits) without written consent of the owner of the building or water well. Unconventional gas wells may not be drilled within 1,000 feet measured horizontally from the vertical well bore to any existing water well, surface water intake, reservoir or other water supply extraction point used by a water purveyor without the written consent of the water purveyor. If consent is not obtained and the distance restriction would deprive the owner of the oil and gas rights of the right to produce or share in the oil or gas underlying the surface tract, the well operator shall be granted a variance from the distance restriction upon submission of a plan identifying the additional measures, facilities or practices as prescribed by the department to be employed during well site construction, drilling and operations. The variance shall include additional terms and conditions required by the department to ensure safety and protection of affected persons and property, including insurance, bonding, indemnification and technical requirements. Notwithstanding section 3211(e), if a variance request has been submitted, the department may extend its permit review period for up to 15 days upon notification to the applicant of the reasons for the extension.
(1) No well site may be prepared or well drilled within 100 feet or, in the case of an unconventional well, 300 feet from the vertical well bore or 100 feet from the edge of the well site, whichever is greater, measured horizontally from any solid blue lined stream, spring or body of water as identified on the most current 7 1/2 minute topographic quadrangle map of the United States Geological Survey.
(2) The edge of the disturbed area associated with any unconventional well site must maintain a 100-foot setback from the edge of any solid blue lined stream, spring or body of water as identified on the most current 7 1/2 minute topographic quadrangle map of the United States Geological Survey.
(3) No unconventional well may be drilled within 300 feet of any wetlands greater than one acre in size, and the edge of the disturbed area of any well site must maintain a 100-foot setback from the boundary of the wetlands.
(4) The department shall waive the distance restrictions upon submission of a plan identifying additional measures, facilities or practices to be employed during well site construction, drilling and operations necessary to protect the waters of this Commonwealth. The waiver, if granted, shall include additional terms and conditions required by the department necessary to protect the waters of this Commonwealth. Notwithstanding section 3211(e), if a waiver request has been submitted, the department may extend its permit review period for up to 15 days upon notification to the applicant of the reasons for the extension.
(c) Impact.--On making a determination on a well permit, the department shall consider the impact of the proposed well on public resources, including, but not limited to:
(1) Publicly owned parks, forests, game lands and wildlife areas.
(2) National or State scenic rivers.
(3) National natural landmarks.
(4) Habitats of rare and endangered flora and fauna and other critical communities.
(5) Historical and archaeological sites listed on the Federal or State list of historic places.
(6) Sources used for public drinking supplies in accordance with subsection (b).
(d) Consideration of municipality and storage operator comments.--The department may consider the comments submitted under section 3212.1 (relating to comments by municipalities and storage operators) in making a determination on a well permit. Notwithstanding any other law, no municipality or storage operator shall have a right of appeal or other form of review from the department's decision.
(d.1) Additional protective measures.--The department may establish additional protective measures for storage of hazardous chemicals and materials intended to be used or that have been used on an unconventional well drilling site within 750 feet of a solid blue lined stream, spring or body of water identified on the most current 7 1/2 minute topographic quadrangle map of the United States Geological Survey.
(e) Regulation criteria.--The Environmental Quality Board shall develop by regulation criteria:
(1) For the department to utilize for conditioning a well permit based on its impact to the public resources identified under subsection (c) and for ensuring optimal development of oil and gas resources and respecting property rights of oil and gas owners.
(2) For appeal to the Environmental Hearing Board of a permit containing conditions imposed by the department. The regulations shall also provide that the department has the burden of proving that the conditions were necessary to protect against a probable harmful impact of the public resources.
(1) No well site may be prepared or well drilled within any floodplain if the well site will have:
(i) a pit or impoundment containing drilling cuttings, flowback water, produced water or hazardous materials, chemicals or wastes within the floodplain; or
(ii) a tank containing hazardous materials, chemicals, condensate, wastes, flowback or produced water within the floodway.
(2) A well site shall not be eligible for a floodplain restriction waiver if the well site will have a tank containing condensate, flowback or produced water within the flood fringe unless all the tanks have adequate floodproofing in accordance with the National Flood Insurance Program standards and accepted engineering practices.
(3) The department may waive restrictions upon submission of a plan that shall identify the additional measures, facilities or practices to be employed during well site construction, drilling and operations. The waiver, if granted, shall impose permit conditions necessary to protect the waters of this Commonwealth.
(4) Best practices as determined by the department to ensure the protection of the waters of this Commonwealth must be utilized for the storage and handling of all water, chemicals, fuels, hazardous materials or solid waste on a well site located in a floodplain. The department may request that the well site operator submit a plan for the storage and handling of the materials for approval by the department and may impose conditions or amend permits to include permit conditions as are necessary to protect the environment, public health and safety.
(5) Unless otherwise specified by the department, the boundary of the floodplain shall be as indicated on maps and flood insurance studies provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In an area where no Federal Emergency Management Agency maps or studies have defined the boundary of the 100-year frequency floodplain, absent evidence to the contrary, the floodplain shall extend from:
(i) any perennial stream up to 100 feet horizontally from the top of the bank of the perennial stream; or
(ii) from any intermittent stream up to 50 feet horizontally from the top of the bank of the intermittent stream.
(1) This section shall not apply to a well proposed to be drilled on an existing well site for which at least one well permit has been issued prior to the effective date of this section.
(2) Nothing in this section shall alter or abridge the terms of any contract, mortgage or other agreement entered into prior to the effective date of this section.
Special Provisions in Appendix. See section 4(3)(iv) of Act 13 of 2012 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to continuation of prior law.
Cross References. Section 3215 is referred to in sections 3211, 3212, 3212.1, 3304 of this title.