PRINTER'S NO. 512
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
534
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY HUTCHINSON, BROOKS, ARGALL, MENSCH, PITTMAN,
MARTIN, VOGEL, YAW, J. WARD, LANGERHOLC AND STEFANO,
APRIL 8, 2021
REFERRED TO ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY, APRIL 8, 2021
AN ACT
Relating to conventional wells and the development of oil, gas
and coal; imposing powers and duties on the Department of
Environmental Protection; and providing for preliminary
provisions, for general requirements, for underground gas
storage, for enforcement and remedies, for related funds,
parties and activities and for miscellaneous provisions.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1. Preliminary Provisions
Section 101. Short title.
Section 102. Declaration of purpose.
Section 103. Scope of act.
Section 104. Definitions.
Chapter 3. General Requirements
Section 301. Well permits.
Section 302. Permit objections.
Section 303. Orphan well adoption and identification.
Section 304. Inactive status.
Section 305. Well location restrictions.
Section 306. Well site restoration.
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Section 307. Protection of fresh groundwater and casing
requirements.
Section 308. Protection of water supplies.
Section 309. Use of safety devices.
Section 310. Plugging requirements.
Section 311. Alternative methods.
Section 312. Well reporting requirements.
Section 313. Notification and effect of well transfer.
Section 314. Coal operator responsibilities.
Section 315. Bonding.
Chapter 5. Underground Gas Storage
Section 501. Underground gas storage.
Chapter 7. Enforcement and Remedies
Section 701. Conferences.
Section 702. Public nuisances.
Section 703. Enforcement orders.
Section 704. Restraining violations.
Section 705. Criminal penalties.
Section 706. Civil penalties.
Section 707. Existing rights and remedies preserved and
cumulative remedies authorized.
Section 708. Production of materials, witnesses, depositions
and rights of entry.
Section 709. Unlawful conduct.
Section 710. Collection of fines and penalties.
Section 711. Third party liability.
Section 712. Inspection reports.
Chapter 9. Related Funds, Parties and Activities
Section 901. Well plugging funds.
Section 902. Local ordinances.
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Section 903. Effect on department authority.
Section 904. Relationship to solid waste, surface mining,
underground injection wells, wastewater treatment and
recycling by centralized waste treatment facilities
and storage tanks.
Chapter 11. Miscellaneous Provisions
Section 1101. Regulatory authority.
Section 1102. Construction.
Section 1103. Land recycling and remediation.
Section 1104. Repeal.
Section 1105. Continuation.
Section 1106. Effective date.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
CHAPTER 1
PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS
Section 101. Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Conventional
Oil and Gas Wells Act.
Section 102. Declaration of purpose.
The purposes of this act are to:
(1) Permit the optimal development of the oil and gas
resources of Pennsylvania consistent with the property rights
of owners of the oil and gas resources and the protection of
the health, safety, environment and property of the residents
of this Commonwealth.
(2) Protect the safety of personnel and facilities
employed in the exploration, development, storage and
production of natural gas or oil or the mining of coal.
(3) Protect the safety and property rights of persons
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residing in areas where exploration, development, storage or
production occurs.
(4) Protect the natural resources, environmental rights,
property rights and values secured by the Constitution of
Pennsylvania.
(5) Provide a flexible and cost-effective way to
implement and enforce the provisions of this act.
Section 103. Scope of act.
This act relates to conventional wells and well sites only.
Section 104. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Abandoned well." Any of the following:
(1) A well that has not been used to produce, extract or
inject gas, petroleum or other liquid within the preceding 12
months.
(2) A well for which equipment necessary for production,
extraction or injection has been permanently removed.
(3) A well, considered dry, not equipped for production
within 60 days after drilling, redrilling or deepening,
except that it shall not include a well granted inactive
status.
"Alteration." An operation which changes the physical
characteristics of the well bore, including removing, repairing
or changing the casing. For the purpose of this act only, the
term shall not include:
(1) Repairing or replacing of casing if the activity
does not affect the depth or diameter of the well bore, the
use or purpose of the well does not change and the activity
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complies with regulations promulgated under this act.
However, this exclusion shall not apply to production casings
in coal areas when the production casings are also the coal
protection casings and shall not apply when the method of
repairing or replacing the casing would affect the coal
protection casing.
(2) Stimulation of a well.
"Anti-icing." Brine applied directly to a paved road prior
to a precipitation event.
"Bridge." An obstruction placed or occurring naturally in a
well at a specified depth.
"Building." An occupied structure with walls and roof within
which persons live or customarily work.
"Casing." A string or strings of pipe commonly placed in
wells drilled for natural gas or petroleum.
"Cement" or "cement grout." Hydraulic cement properly mixed
with water only or a mixture of materials adequate for bonding
or sealing of well bores as approved by regulations promulgated
under this act.
"Coal mine." Operations in a coal seam, which include the
excavated and abandoned portions as well as the places actually
being worked, all underground workings and shafts, slopes,
tunnels and other ways and openings and all shafts, slopes,
tunnels and other openings in the course of being sunk or
driven, together with all roads and facilities connected with
them below the surface.
"Coal operator." A person who proposes or has a permit to
operate or operates a coal mine either as owner or lessee.
"Completion of a well." The date after treatment, if any,
that the well is properly equipped for production of oil or gas,
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or, if the well is dry, the date the well is abandoned.
"Conventional well." As follows:
(1) A bore hole drilled or being drilled for the purpose
of or to be used for construction of a well regulated under
this act that is not an unconventional well, irrespective of
technology or design.
(2) The term includes, but is not limited to, the
following:
(i) Wells drilled to produce oil.
(ii) Wells drilled to produce natural gas from
formations other than shale formations.
(iii) Wells drilled to produce natural gas from
shale formations located above the base of the Elk Group
or its stratigraphic equivalent.
(iv) Wells drilled to produce natural gas from shale
formations located below the base of the Elk Group where
natural gas can be produced at economic flow rates or in
economic volumes without the use of vertical or
nonvertical well bores stimulated by hydraulic fracture
treatments or multilateral well bores or other techniques
to expose more of the formation to the well bore.
(v) Irrespective of formation, wells drilled for
collateral purposes, such as monitoring, geologic
logging, secondary and tertiary recovery or disposal
injection.
"Council." The Pennsylvania Grade Crude Development Advisory
Council.
"De-icing." Brine applied directly to a paved road after a
precipitation event.
"Department." The Department of Environmental Protection of
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the Commonwealth.
"Drilling." The drilling or redrilling of a well or the
deepening of an existing well.
"Dust control." The process of applying a material to the
surface of a dirt road for the purpose of mitigating air
pollution.
"Fresh groundwater." Water in that portion of the generally
recognized hydrologic cycle which occupies the pore spaces and
fractures of saturated subsurface materials.
"Gas." A fluid, either combustible or noncombustible, which
is produced in a natural state from the earth and which
maintains a gaseous or rarified state at standard temperature of
60 degrees Fahrenheit and pressure 14.7 PSIA, a manufactured
gas, byproduct gas or mixture of gases.
"Inactivate." To shut off the vertical movement of gas in a
gas storage well by means of a temporary plug or other suitable
device or by injecting bentonitic mud or other equally nonporous
material into the well.
"Linear foot." A unit or measurement in a straight line on a
horizontal plane.
"Noncoal area." An area where there are no workable coal
seams.
"Notice." For the purpose of providing required notice to
the department, includes notice provided by telephone, e-mail or
other available electronic means.
"Oil" or "petroleum." Hydrocarbons in liquid form at a
standard temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit and pressure of
14.7 PSIA.
"Operating coal mine." The portion of a workable coal seam
which is covered by an underground mining permit issued by the
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department.
"Operating well." A well not plugged and abandoned.
"Orphan well." A well abandoned prior to April 18, 1985,
that has not been affected or operated by the present owner or
operator and from which the present owner, operator or lessee
has received no economic benefit, except only as a landowner or
recipient of a royalty interest from the well.
"Outside coal boundaries." When used in conjunction with the
term "operating coal mine," the boundaries of the coal acreage
assigned to a coal mine under an underground mine permit issued
by the department.
"Owner." A person who owns, manages, leases, controls or
possesses a well or coal property; except that for purposes of
sections 303(b)(4) and (5) and 310, the term "owner" shall not
include those owners or possessors of surface real property on
which the abandoned well is located who did not participate or
incur costs in the drilling or extraction operation of the
abandoned well and had no right of control over the drilling or
extraction operation of the abandoned well. The term shall not
apply to orphan wells except where the department determines a
prior owner or operator benefited from the well as provided in
section 310(a).
"Person." An individual, association, partnership,
corporation, political subdivision, agency of the Federal or
State Government or other legal entity.
"Pillar." A solid block of coal surrounded by either active
mine workings or a mined-out area.
"Plat." A map, drawing or print accurately drawn to scale
showing the proposed or existing location of a well or wells.
"Prewetting." Mixing brine with antiskid material prior to
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roadway application.
"Retreat mining." The removal of coal pillars, ribs and
stumps that remain after the development mining has been
completed in a section of a coal mine.
"Secretary." The Secretary of Environmental Protection of
the Commonwealth.
"Well." A bore hole drilled or being drilled for the purpose
of or to be used for producing, extracting or injecting gas,
petroleum or other liquid related to oil or gas production or
storage, including brine disposal, but excluding bore holes
drilled to produce potable water. The term does not include:
(1) A mine bore as referenced in 25 Pa. Code Ch. 73
(relating to standards for onlot sewage treatment
facilities).
(2) A bore hole drilled or being drilled for the purpose
of or to be used for systems of monitoring, producing or
extracting gas from solid waste disposal facilities, as long
as the wells are subject to the act of July 7, 1980 (P.L.380,
No.97), known as the Solid Waste Management Act, and do not
penetrate a workable coal seam. The term also does not
include a bore hole drilled or being drilled for the purpose
of or to be used for degasifying coal seams if the following
conditions are satisfied:
(i) (A) the bore hole is used to vent methane to
the outside atmosphere from an operating coal mine;
(B) the bore hole is regulated as part of the
mining permit under the act of June 22, 1937
(P.L.1987, No.394), known as The Clean Streams Law,
and the act of May 31, 1945 (P.L.1198, No.418), known
as the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation
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Act; and
(C) the bore hole is drilled by the operator of
the operating coal mine for the purpose of increased
safety; or
(ii) the bore hole is used to vent methane to the
outside atmosphere under a Federally funded or State-
funded abandoned mine reclamation project.
"Well operator" or "operator." All of the following:
(1) A person designated as the well operator or operator
on the permit application or well registration.
(2) Where a permit or registration was not issued, a
person who locates, drills, operates, alters or plugs a well
or reconditions a well with the purpose of production from
the well.
(3) In cases where a well is used in connection with the
underground storage of gas, a storage operator.
"Well site." The areas occupied by equipment or facilities
necessary for or incidental to drilling, completion, production
of or plugging a well.
"Wetland." An area that is inundated or saturated by surface
or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to
support, and that under normal circumstances supports, a
prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated
soil conditions, including swamps, marshes, bogs and similar
areas.
"Workable coal seams." The term includes:
(1) A coal seam in fact being mined in the area in
question under this act by underground methods.
(2) A coal seam which, in the judgment of the
department, can reasonably be expected to be mined by
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underground methods.
CHAPTER 3
GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
Section 301. Well permits.
(a) Permit required.--Except as provided under subsection
(j), a person shall not drill a well or alter an existing well
without having first obtained a well permit under this section
and shall not operate an abandoned or orphan well unless the
person is in compliance with subsection (m). A copy of the
permit shall be kept at the well site during drilling or
alteration of the well. No person shall be required to obtain a
permit to redrill a nonproducing well if:
(1) the redrilling has been evaluated and approved as
part of an order from the department authorizing the cleaning
out and plugging or replugging of a nonproducing well, under
section 13(c) of the act of December 18, 1984 (P.L.1069,
No.214), known as the Coal and Gas Resource Coordination Act;
and
(2) the redrilling is incidental to the plugging or
replugging operation and the well subsequently is plugged
within 15 days of redrilling.
(b) Plat.--
(1) The permit application shall be accompanied by a
plat prepared by a certified professional in erosion and
sediment control, a competent engineer or a competent
surveyor on forms to be furnished by the department showing
the following:
(i) The political subdivision and county in which
the tract of land upon which the well to be drilled is
located.
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(ii) The name of the surface landowner of record and
lessor.
(iii) The names of all surface landowners or water
purveyors whose water supplies are within 1,000 feet of
the proposed well location.
(iv) The name of the owner of record or operator of
all known underlying workable coal seams, if any.
(v) The acreage in the tract to be drilled.
(vi) The proposed location of the well determined by
survey.
(vii) The courses and distances of the location from
two or more permanent identifiable points or landmarks on
the tract boundary corners.
(viii) The proposed angle and direction of the well,
if the well is to be deviated substantially from a
vertical course.
(ix) The number or other identification to be given
to the well.
(x) The workable coal seams, if any, underlying the
tract of land upon which the well is to be drilled or
altered, which are to be cased off in accordance with
section 307.
(xi) Other information needed by the department to
administer this act.
(2) The applicant shall forward, by certified mail, a
copy of the plat to the surface landowner, all surface
landowners or water purveyors whose water supplies are within
1,000 feet of the proposed well location, the owner and
lessee, if any, of the workable coal seams and every coal
operator required to be identified on the well permit
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application and shall submit proof of the notification with
the well permit application. With respect to surface
landowners, notification shall be accomplished under this
section by sending notice to the persons to whom the tax
notices for the surface property are sent, as indicated in
the assessment books in the county in which the property is
located. With respect to surface landowners or water
purveyors whose water supplies are within 1,000 feet of the
proposed well location, notification shall be made on forms
and in a manner prescribed by the department sufficient to
identify, for those persons, the rights afforded them under
section 308 and the advisability of taking their own
predrilling or prealteration survey. With respect to the coal
operator, lessee or owner, if any, notification shall be
accomplished under this section by sending notice to the
persons to whom tax notices for the workable coal seams are
sent, as indicated in the assessment books, if available, or
as indicated in the records of the recorder of deeds office
in the county in which the seams are located. If certified
mail or notification is returned undeliverable, the applicant
shall include a completed affidavit attesting to the
attempted delivery, which shall satisfy the notification
requirements under this section.
(3) If the applicant submits to the department written
approval of the proposed well location by the surface
landowner and the coal operator, lessee or owner, if any, of
the coal underlying the proposed well location and no
objections are raised by the department within 15 days of
filing or if no approval has been submitted and no objections
are made to the proposed well location within 15 days from
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receipt of the notice by the surface landowner and the coal
operator, lessee or owner, if any, or by the department, the
approval shall be filed and become a permanent record of the
location, subject to inspection at any time by an interested
person.
(c) Applicants.--If the applicant for a well permit is a
corporation, partnership or a person that does not reside in
this Commonwealth, the applicant shall designate an agent for
the operator who shall be the attorney in fact for the operator
and who shall be a resident of this Commonwealth upon whom
notices, orders or other communications issued under this act or
the regulations adopted under this act may be served and upon
whom process may be served. Every well operator required to
designate an agent under this section shall, within five days
after the termination of the designation, notify the department
of the termination and designate a new agent.
(d) Permit fee.--An application for a well permit shall be
accompanied by a permit fee, established by regulation of the
department, which bears a reasonable relationship to the cost of
administering this act.
(e) Issuance of permit.--The department shall issue a permit
within 45 days of the submission of a permit application unless
the department denies the permit application for one or more of
the reasons set forth under this subsection, provided that the
department shall have the right to extend the period for 15 days
for cause shown upon notification to the applicant of the
reasons for that extension. The department may impose permit
terms and conditions as are necessary to assure compliance with
this act and other laws administered by the department. The
department has the burden of proving that the conditions were
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necessary to protect against probable harmful impact to health,
safety, environment or property and shall allow the optimal
development of oil and gas resources consistent with the
property rights of the owners of the oil and gas resources. The
department shall have the authority to deny a permit to a person
for the following reasons:
(1) The well site for which a permit is requested is in
violation of the provisions of this act or if issuance of a
permit would result in a violation of this act or any other
applicable environmental statute, rule or regulation.
(2) The permit application is incomplete.
(3) Unresolved objections to the well location by a coal
mine owner or operator remain.
(4) The requirements of section 315 have not been met.
(5) The applicant, with respect to other well or wells
which the applicant operates, is in continuing violation of
this act or other applicable statute administered by the
department. The right of the department to deny a permit
under this paragraph shall not be effective until a final
administrative determination has been made of the violations
and no appeal is pending in which a stay has been granted.
(f) Drilling.--Upon issuance of a permit, the well operator
may proceed with the drilling of the well at the location shown
on the plat after providing the department 24 hours' notice of
the date that drilling will commence. In noncoal areas where
more than one well is to be drilled as part of the same
development project, only the first well of the project need be
located by survey. The remaining wells of the project shall be
shown on the plat in a manner prescribed by regulation. Prior to
drilling each of the additional project wells, the well operator
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shall notify the department of the operator's intention and
provide reasonable notice of the date drilling will commence.
If, before or during the drilling of a well which is not within
the outside boundaries of an operating coal mine, a well
operator encounters conditions of a nature as to render drilling
of the bore hole or portions of the bore hole more hazardous
than usual or otherwise difficult, the well operator shall have
the right upon oral notice to the department to immediately plug
all or portions of the bore hole, if drilling has occurred, and
to commence a new bore hole not more than 50 feet from the
location shown on the plat if the location of the new bore hole
does not violate section 305 and if, for wells subject to the
act of July 25, 1961 (P.L.825, No.359), known as the Oil and Gas
Conservation Law, the new location complies with existing law,
regulation or spacing order and if the new bore hole is a
minimum of 330 feet distant from the nearest lease boundary. If
drilling occurred at an original bore hole, within 10 days of
commencement of the new bore hole, the well operator shall file
with the department a written notice of intention to plug, a
well record, a completion report, a plugging certificate for the
original bore hole and an amended plat for the new bore hole.
The well operator shall forward a copy of the amended plat to
the surface landowner identified on the well permit application
within 10 days of commencement of the new well bore.
(g) Posting.--The well permit number and operator's name,
address and telephone number shall be posted at the drilling
site in a conspicuous manner prior to commencement of drilling.
(h) Labeling.--The well operator shall install the permit
number issued by the department in a legible, visible and
permanent manner at the well upon completion.
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(i) Expiration.--Well permits issued for drilling of wells
covered under this act shall expire three years after issuance
unless operations for drilling the well are commenced within the
period and pursued with due diligence or unless the permit is
renewed in accordance with regulations of the department. If
drilling is commenced during the three-year period, the well
permit shall remain in force until the well is plugged in
accordance with section 310 or the permit is revoked. A drilling
permit issued prior to April 18, 1985, for a well which is an
operating well on April 18, 1985, shall remain in force as a
well permit until the well is plugged in accordance with section
310. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to rescind
the provisions pertaining to drilling permits contained in the
Oil and Gas Conservation Law.
(j) Exceptions.--The Environmental Quality Board may
establish by regulation certain categories of alterations of
permitted or registered wells for which the permitting
requirements of this section shall not apply. The well operator
or owner who proposes to conduct the alteration activity shall
first obtain a permit from the department. Requirements for
modifications shall be as the Environmental Quality Board shall
require by regulation.
(k) No transfer permitted.--No permit issued under this
section may be transferred without prior approval of the
department. Requests for approval of transfer shall be made on
forms or in a manner prescribed by the department. The
department shall approve or deny the transfer request within 45
days of receipt of a complete and accurate application. The
department shall only have the authority to deny the request for
the reasons set forth under subsection (e)(4) or (5). Approval
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of the transfer request shall permanently transfer
responsibility to plug the well under section 310 to the
recipient of the transferred permit or registration.
(l) Accelerated approval.--The department may establish a
procedure for accelerated approval of well permit applications
in hardship cases, as defined by regulation of the Environmental
Quality Board, consistent with the requirements of this act.
(m) Regulations.--The Environmental Quality Board may
establish by regulation requirements for permitting and
operation of abandoned or orphan wells. A person who proposes to
conduct abandoned or orphan well operations shall first obtain a
permit to adopt and operate an abandoned or orphan well.
Section 302. Permit objections.
(a) General rule.--If a well location referred to in section
301(b) is made so that the well, when drilled, will be located
on a tract whose surface is owned by a person other than the
well operator, the surface landowner affected shall be notified
of the intent to drill and have right to file objections, in
accordance with section 701, based solely on an assertion that
the well location violates section 305 or that information in
the application is untrue in any material respect, within 15
days of the receipt by the surface owner of the plat provided
for in section 301(b). Receipt of notice by the surface owner
shall be presumed to have occurred 15 days from the date of the
certified mailing when the well operator submits a copy of the
certified mail receipt sent to the surface owner and an
affidavit certifying that the address of the surface owner to
which notice was sent is the same address that is listed in the
assessment books in the county in which the property is located.
If no objections are filed or none are raised by the department
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within 15 days after receipt of the plat by the surface
landowner, or if written approval by the surface landowner is
filed with the department and no objections are raised by the
department within 15 days of filing, the department shall
proceed to issue or deny the permit.
(b) Special circumstances.--If a well location referred to
in section 301(b) is made so that the well, when drilled, will
penetrate anywhere within the outside coal boundaries of:
(1) an operating coal mine; or
(2) a coal mine already projected and platted but not
yet being operated for which a technically complete mine
permit application has been filed with the department or
within 1,000 linear feet beyond the boundaries and the well,
when drilled, or the pillar of coal around the well will, in
the reasonable opinion of the coal owner or operator,
endanger the mine, the coal owner or operator affected shall
have the right to file objections in accordance with section
701 to the proposed location within 15 days of the receipt by
the coal operator of the plat provided for in section 301(b).
An alternative location at which the proposed well could be
drilled to overcome the objections shall be indicated if
possible. If no objections to the proposed location are filed
or if none are raised by the department within 15 days after
receipt of the plat by the coal operator or owner, or if
written approval by the coal operator or owner of the
location is filed with the department and no objections are
raised by the department within 15 days of filing, the
department shall proceed to issue or deny the permit.
(c) Procedure upon objection.--If an objection is filed by a
coal operator or owner or is made by the department, the
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department shall fix a time and place for a conference in
accordance with section 701 not more than 10 days from the date
of the service of the objections on the well operator, at which
conference the well operator and coal operators or owners
present or represented shall consider the objections and attempt
to agree upon a location. If the parties fail to agree upon a
location, the department shall, by an appropriate order,
determine a location on a tract of land as near to the original
location as possible where, in the judgment of the department,
the well can be safely drilled without unduly interfering with
or endangering the mine as described in subsection (b). The new
location, as agreed upon by the parties or as determined by the
department, shall be indicated on the plat on file with the
department and shall become a permanent record, whereupon the
department shall proceed to issue or deny the permit.
(d) Survey.--Within 120 days after the commencement of
drilling operations, the coal operator shall accurately locate
the well by a closed survey on the same datum as the mine
workings or coal boundaries are mapped and file the results of
the survey with the department and forward by certified mail a
copy to the well operator.
Section 303. Orphan well adoption and identification.
(a) Orphan wells.--
(1) Well owners or operators who discover abandoned
wells on property purchased or leased by the well owners and
operators shall identify the well to the department within 60
days of discovery and advise the department that they are
seeking classification of the well as an orphan well. No fee
shall be required for the identification.
(2) Operators shall undertake reasonable diligence to
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identify abandoned, orphan, active or inactive wells through
review of the department's public well databases and field
examination prior to hydraulic fracturing. The department may
not require operators to undertake landowner surveys for
these wells.
(3) (i) During hydraulic fracturing, the operator shall
periodically monitor orphan, abandoned, active or
inactive wells that are located within the area of the
operator's oil and gas operating interest and are within:
(A) two hundred feet of the top hole location of
an oil well being hydraulically fractured and within
400 feet of a gas well being hydraulically fractured;
or
(B) half the well field spacing if the spacing
exceeds the distances under clause (A).
(ii) The area of monitoring for horizontal
conventional wells shall include wells within half the
well field distances of the lateral portion of the wells.
An operator shall provide notice to the department if the
well being hydraulically fractured communicates with the
monitored well in a manner that has the potential to
cause an adverse environmental impact.
(4) A person who is not a well owner or operator and who
discovers an abandoned well on property owned or leased by
the person shall identify the well to the department within
60 days of discovery and advise the department that the
person is seeking classification of the well as an orphan
well. No fee shall be required for the identification.
(5) A person who proposes to conduct orphan well
operations shall first obtain a permit to adopt and operate
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an orphan well in accordance with section 301.
(b) Information.--Information regarding wells to be
identified shall be provided on forms or in a manner prescribed
by the department and shall include:
(1) The name and address of the well operator and, if
the well operator is a person that does not reside in this
Commonwealth, the name and address of an agent for the
operator upon whom notices, orders, process or other
communications issued under this act may be served.
(2) The well name and the location of the well indicated
by a point on a 7.5-minute United States Geological Survey
topographic map or any other location description sufficient
to enable the department to locate the well on the ground.
(3) The approximate date of the drilling and completion
of the well and the approximate depth of the well, producing
horizons, well construction information and driller's logs,
if available.
(4) An indemnity bond, an alternative fee in lieu of
bonding or other evidence of financial security submitted by
the well operator and deemed appropriate by the department as
satisfying the requirements of section 315. No bond,
alternative fee or other evidence of financial security shall
be required for identification of an orphan well.
(c) Guidelines.--The department may adopt and promulgate
guidelines designed to ensure a fair implementation of this
section which recognizes the practical difficulties of locating
unpermitted wells and complying with the reporting requirements
of this act.
Section 304. Inactive status.
(a) General rule.--Upon application, the department shall
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grant, within 60 days of receipt of the application, inactive
status for a permitted or registered well if the following
requirements are met:
(1) The condition of the well is sufficient to prevent
damage to the producing zone or contamination of fresh water
or other natural resources or surface leakage of any
substance.
(2) The condition of the well is sufficient to stop the
vertical flow of fluids or gas within the well bore and is
adequate to protect freshwater aquifers, unless the well
poses a threat to the health and safety of persons or
property or to the environment.
(3) The operator anticipates future use of the well for
primary or enhanced recovery or future gas storage, or the
operator anticipates the construction of a pipeline for
approved disposal or other appropriate uses related to oil
and gas well production.
(4) The applicant satisfies the bonding requirements of
sections 303 and 315, except that the department may require
additional financial security for a well on which an
alternative fee is being paid in lieu of bonding under
section 315(d).
(b) Monitoring.--The owner or operator of a well granted
inactive status shall be responsible for monitoring the
mechanical integrity of the well to ensure that the requirements
of subsection (a)(1) and (2) are met and shall report the same
on an annual basis to the department in a manner and form as the
department shall prescribe by regulation. A well granted
inactive status under subsection (a) shall be plugged when the
well no longer meets the requirements of subsection (a).
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(c) Return to active status.--An owner or operator who has
been granted inactive status for a well which is returned to
active status shall notify the department that the well has been
returned to active status. The owner or operator may make
application to return the well to inactive status in accordance
with subsection (a).
(d) Revocation of inactive status.--
(1) The department shall have the right to revoke
inactive status and order the immediate plugging of a well
under any of the following circumstances:
(i) When the well is in violation of this act or
rules or regulations promulgated under this act.
(ii) When the owner or operator demonstrates
inability to perform the owner's or operator's
obligations under this act.
(iii) When the owner or operator becomes financially
insolvent.
(iv) Upon receipt by the department of notice of
bankruptcy proceedings by the permittee.
(2) If the department revokes inactive status, a well
owner or operator aggrieved by the denial shall have the
right to appeal the denial to the Environmental Hearing Board
within 30 days of receipt of the revocation. Upon cause shown
by a well owner or operator, the Environmental Hearing Board
may grant a supersedeas under section 4 of the act of July
13, 1988 (P.L.530, No.94), known as the Environmental Hearing
Board Act, to allow the well to retain inactive status during
the period of appeal.
Section 305. Well location restrictions.
(a) General rule.--Wells may not be drilled within 200 feet
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measured horizontally from an existing building or existing
water well without the written consent of the owner of the
existing building or existing water well. If the distance
restriction would deprive the owner of the oil and gas rights or
the right to produce or share in the oil or gas underlying the
surface tract, the well operator may be granted a variance from
the distance restriction upon submission of a plan which
identifies the additional measures, facilities or practices to
be employed during well site construction, drilling and
operations. The variance, if granted, shall include additional
terms and conditions as the department requires as necessary to
ensure the safety and protection of affected persons and
property. The provisions may include insurance, bonding and
indemnification, as well as technical requirements.
(b) Limitation.--No well site may be prepared or well
drilled within 100 feet measured horizontally from a stream,
spring or body of water as identified on the most current 7.5-
minute topographic quadrangle map of the United States
Geological Survey or within 100 feet of wetlands greater than
one acre in size. The department may waive the distance
restrictions upon submission of a plan which identifies the
additional measures, facilities or practices to be employed
during well site construction, drilling and operations. The
waiver, if granted, shall impose permit conditions as are
necessary to protect the waters of this Commonwealth.
(c) Protection of threatened or endangered species.--Well
permit applicants are obligated to determine impacts to
threatened or endangered species in accordance with applicable
law. The department shall, on making a determination on a well
permit, consider the impact of the proposed well on habitats of
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threatened or endangered species that are listed in a final
rulemaking by a Federal or State agency with statutory authority
to list species for protection.
Section 306. Well site restoration.
(a) General rule.--Each oil or gas well owner or operator
shall restore the land surface within the area disturbed in
siting, drilling, completing and producing the well.
(b) Plan.--During and after all earthmoving or soil
disturbing activities, including, but not limited to, activities
related to siting, drilling, completing, producing and plugging
the well, erosion and sedimentation control measures shall be
implemented in accordance with an erosion and sedimentation
control plan prepared in accordance with the act of June 22,
1937 (P.L.1987, No.394), known as The Clean Streams Law. For
purpose of determining the five-acre permit threshold under the
Clean Streams Law, the earth disturbance footprint of the well
site may be combined with a portion of the access road only if
it is directly connected to the well site and will be
constructed at the same time as the well site. Well sites may be
restored prior to drilling and completing the well.
(c) Pits, drilling supplies and equipment.--Within nine
months after completion of drilling of a well, the owner or
operator shall restore the well site, remove or fill all pits
used to contain produced fluids or industrial wastes and remove
all drilling supplies and equipment not needed for production or
repairs. Drilling supplies and equipment not needed for
production or repairs may be stored on the well site consistent
with the property rights of the owner of the oil and gas
resources or if the express written consent of the surface
landowner is obtained or is contained in historical documents.
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(d) Production and storage equipment.--Within nine months
after plugging a well, the owner or operator shall remove all
production or storage facilities, supplies and equipment and
restore the well site.
(e) Clean Streams Law.--Restoration activities required by
this act or in regulations promulgated under this act shall not
be more stringent than applicable provisions of The Clean
Streams Law. There shall be no mandatory requirement to return
well sites to approximate original contours or conditions.
(f) Violation.--Failure to restore the well site as required
in this act or in regulations promulgated under this act is a
violation of this act.
(g) Extension of restoration.--The restoration period may be
extended by the department for an additional 12 months upon
application of the well owner or operator providing evidence of
inability to comply due to adverse weather conditions or lack of
essential fuel, equipment or labor, or upon a demonstration that
the extension will result in less earth disturbance, increased
water reuse or more efficient development of the resource.
Section 307. Protection of fresh groundwater and casing
requirements.
(a) General rule.--To aid in the protection of fresh
groundwater, the well operator shall control and dispose of
brines produced from the drilling, alteration or operation of an
oil or gas well in a manner consistent with the act of June 22,
1937 (P.L.1987, No.394), known as The Clean Streams Law, or any
rule or regulation promulgated under The Clean Streams Law.
(b) Casing.--To prevent the migration of gas or fluids into
sources of fresh groundwater and to prevent pollution or
diminution of fresh groundwaters, there shall be run and
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permanently cemented a string or strings of casing in each well
drilled through the fresh-water-bearing strata to a depth and in
a manner prescribed by regulation by the department. The
regulations shall be consistent with practices that have proven
to be satisfactory in regional areas and are in accordance with
geologic variability or anomalies in the regional areas. If it
is anticipated that cement used to permanently cement the
surface casing cannot be circulated to the surface, a cement
basket may be installed immediately above the depth of the last
circulation zone. The casing shall be permanently cemented by
the displacement method. Additional cement may be added above
the cement basket, if necessary, by pumping from the surface to
fill the annular space.
(c) Noncoal areas.--In noncoal areas, the surface casing may
be employed as the production casing, provided the operator
pumps a volume of cement equal to or greater than 120% of the
calculated annular space and, at well completion or earlier, the
top of the cement is determined to be at or above the depth of
50% of the casing. If the casing coverage is insufficient, the
operator shall produce oil only leaving the annulus open, run
alternative production casing or pump additional cement through
a pour string from the surface to fill the annular space.
(d) Procedure when coal removed.--When a well is drilled at
a location where the coal has been removed from one or more coal
seams, the well shall be drilled and cased to prevent the
migration of gas or fluids into the seam from which the coal has
been removed, in a manner prescribed by regulation of the
department. The department and the coal operator, owner or
lessee shall be given at least 72 hours' notice prior to
commencement of the work protecting the mine.
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(e) Procedure when coal not removed.--When a well is drilled
at a location where the coal seam has not been removed, the well
shall be drilled to a depth and size as will permit the placing
of casing, packers in, and vents on, the hole at the points and
in a manner prescribed by the department by regulation as will
exclude all gas or fluids from the coal seam, except as may be
found naturally in the coal seam itself, and will enable the
monitoring of the integrity of the production casing.
Section 308. Protection of water supplies.
(a) General rule.--A well operator who affects a public or
private water supply by pollution or diminution shall restore or
replace the affected supply with an alternate source of water
adequate in quantity or quality for the purposes served by the
supply. The quality of a restored or replaced water supply will
be deemed adequate if it meets the standards established under
the act of May 1, 1984 (P.L.206, No.43), known as the
Pennsylvania Safe Drinking Water Act, or is comparable to the
quality of the water supply before it was affected by the
operator if that water supply did not meet these standards.
(b) Pollution or diminution of water supply.--A landowner or
water purveyor suffering pollution or diminution of a water
supply as a result of the drilling, alteration or operation of
an oil or gas well may notify the department and request that an
investigation be conducted. Within 10 days of the notification,
the department shall investigate the claim. If the department
finds that the pollution or diminution was caused by the
drilling, alteration or operation activities or if it presumes
the well operator responsible for pollution under subsection
(c), the department shall issue orders to the well operator as
are necessary to assure compliance with subsection (a). The
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orders may include orders requiring the temporary replacement of
a water supply where it is determined that the pollution or
diminution may be of limited duration.
(c) Presumed responsibility.--Unless rebutted by one of the
five defenses established in subsection (d), it shall be
presumed that a well operator is responsible for the pollution
of a water supply that is within 1,000 feet of the oil or gas
well where the pollution occurred within six months after the
completion of drilling or alteration of the well.
(d) Defenses.--In order to rebut the presumption of
liability established in subsection (c), the well operator must
affirmatively prove one of the following five defenses:
(1) The pollution existed prior to the drilling or
alteration activity as determined by a predrilling or
prealteration survey.
(2) The landowner or water purveyor refused to allow the
operator access to conduct a predrilling or prealteration
survey.
(3) The water supply is not within 1,000 feet of the
well.
(4) The pollution occurred more than six months after
completion of drilling or alteration activities.
(5) The pollution occurred as the result of some cause
other than the drilling or alteration activity.
(e) Independent survey.--An operator electing to preserve
its defenses under subsection (d)(1) or (2) shall retain the
services of an independent certified laboratory to conduct the
predrilling or prealteration survey of water supplies. A copy of
the results of the survey shall be submitted to the department
and the landowner or water purveyor in a manner prescribed by
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the department.
(f) Other remedies preserved.--Nothing in this section shall
prevent a landowner or water purveyor who claims pollution or
diminution of a water supply from seeking any other remedy at
law or in equity.
Section 309. Use of safety devices.
A person engaged in drilling an oil or gas well shall equip
the well with casings of sufficient strength and with other
safety devices as may be necessary in a manner prescribed by
regulation of the department and shall use every effort and
endeavor effectively to prevent blowouts, explosions and fires.
Section 310. Plugging requirements.
(a) General rule.--Upon abandoning a well, the owner or
operator of the well shall plug the well in a manner prescribed
by regulation of the department in order to stop a vertical flow
of fluids, other than artesian flow, or gas within the well
bore, unless the department has granted inactive status for the
well under section 304 or the well has been approved by the
department as an orphan well under section 303. If the
department determines that a prior owner or operator received
economic benefit, other than economic benefit derived only as a
landowner or from a royalty interest subsequent to April 18,
1979, from an orphan well or from a well which has not been
registered, the owner or operator shall be responsible for the
plugging of the well. In the case of gas wells penetrating
workable coal seams which were drilled prior to January 30,
1956, or which were permitted after that date but not plugged in
accordance with this act, which the owner or operator of the
well or a coal operator or his agent proposes to plug for the
purpose of allowing the mining through of the well, the gas well
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shall be cleaned out to a depth of at least 200 feet below the
coal seam in which the mining through is proposed and, unless
impracticable, to a point 200 feet below the deepest mineable
coal seam. The gas well shall be plugged from that depth in
accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the act of
December 18, 1984 (P.L.1069, No.214), known as the Coal and Gas
Resource Coordination Act, and the regulations of the
department.
(b) Areas underlain by coal.--Prior to the abandonment of a
well in an area underlain by a workable coal seam, the well
operator or owner shall notify the coal operator, lessee or
owner and the department of the well operator's or owner's
intention to plug and abandon the well and submit a plat, on a
form to be furnished by the department, showing the location of
the well and fixing the date and time at which the work of
plugging will be commenced, not less than three working days nor
more than 30 days after receipt of the notice, in order that
their representatives may be present at the plugging of the
well. The notice may be waived by the department and the coal
operator, lessee or owner, who may waive their right to be
present, but the waiver by a coal operator, lessee or owner
shall be in writing and a copy attached to the notice of
abandonment filed with the department under this section.
Whether or not the representatives appear, the well operator
may, if the operator has fully complied with the requirements of
this section, proceed at the time fixed to plug the well in the
manner as prescribed by regulation of the department. When
plugging has been completed, a certificate shall be prepared and
signed on a form to be furnished by the department by two
experienced and qualified people who participated in the work
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and shall set forth the time and manner in which the well has
been plugged. One copy of the certificate shall be mailed to
each coal operator, lessee or owner to whom notice was given by
certified mail, and another copy shall be mailed to the
department.
(c) Abandoned wells.--Prior to the abandonment of a well,
except an uncompleted bore hole plugged immediately upon
suspension of drilling in an area not underlain by a workable
coal seam, the well operator shall notify the department of the
well operator's intention to plug and abandon the well and
submit a plat or the longitude or latitude of the well, on a
form to be furnished by the department, showing the location of
the well and fixing the date and time at which the work of
plugging will be commenced, not less than three working days nor
more than 30 days after the time when the notice is received, in
order that the department representative may be present at the
plugging of the well. The notice or waiting period may be
verbally waived by the department. In noncoal areas where more
than one well has been drilled as part of the same development
project and the wells are now to be plugged, three working days'
notice shall be provided to the department prior to plugging the
first well of the project, subject to waiver of notice described
in this section. In the plugging of subsequent wells, no
additional notice shall be required if the plugging on the
project is continuous. If the plugging of subsequent wells is
delayed for any reason, notice shall be given to the department
of the continuation of the project. Whether or not a department
representative appears, the well operator may, if the well
operator has fully complied with the requirements of this
section, proceed at the time fixed to plug the well in the
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manner as prescribed by regulation of the department. When
plugging has been completed, a certificate shall be prepared and
signed on a form to be furnished by the department by two
experienced and qualified people who participated in the work,
and shall set forth the time and manner in which the well was
plugged. A copy of the certificate shall be mailed to the
department.
(d) Wells abandoned upon completion of drilling.--When a
well is to be abandoned immediately after completion of
drilling, the well operator shall give at least 24 hours' notice
by telephone, confirmed by certified mail, to the department and
to the coal operator, lessee or owner, if any, fixing the date
and time at which the work of plugging will be commenced. The
notice may be waived by the department and the coal operator,
lessee or owner, who may waive their right to be present.
Whether or not a representative of the department or of the coal
operator, lessee or owner, if any, appear, the well operator
may, if the well operator has fully complied with the
requirements of this section, proceed at the time fixed to plug
the well in the manner provided by regulation prescribed by the
department. The well operator shall prepare the certificate of
plugging and mail copies of the certificate of plugging as
provided in subsections (b) and (c).
(e) Orphan wells.--If a well is an orphan well or abandoned
without plugging or if a well is in operation but is not adopted
under section 303, the department shall have the right to enter
upon the well site and plug the well and to sell the equipment,
casing and pipe at the abandoned well or unregistered well site
as may have been used in the production of the well in order to
recover the costs of plugging. In the case of a well which is in
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operation but has not been adopted, the department shall make an
effort to determine ownership of the well and provide written
notice to the owner of pending action which may be taken under
this subsection. If the department cannot determine ownership of
the well within 30 days, the department may proceed under this
subsection. Costs of plugging shall have priority over all liens
on equipment, casing and pipe, and the sale shall be free and
clear of any liens to the extent the costs of plugging exceed
the sale price. If the equipment price obtained for casing and
pipe salvaged at the abandoned well or unregistered well site is
inadequate to pay for the cost of plugging the abandoned or
unregistered well, the owner or operator of the abandoned or
unregistered well shall be legally liable for the additional
costs of plugging the well. Notwithstanding provisions to the
contrary, and provided that a reasonable attempt failed to place
plugging materials at the producing formations, an orphan well
in a noncoal area may be plugged from the casing seat as the
attainable bottom of the well.
(f) Limitation of liability.--A person is not subject to
liability for environmental remediation related to an orphan
well and is not required to plug an orphan well solely because
the person obtains approval from the department to plug an
orphan well. A person undertaking the plugging of an orphan well
with approval from the department is eligible for all
protections and immunities provided under 27 Pa.C.S. § 8107
(relating to project liability limitation and exceptions). The
notice provisions under 27 Pa.C.S. § 8107 shall not apply to the
approval and protections provided under this section. Notice to
the department and the surface owner shall be provided on forms
developed by the department. When plugging has been completed, a
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certificate shall be prepared and signed on a form to be
furnished by the department by two experienced and qualified
individuals who participated in the work and set forth the time
and manner in which the well was plugged. A copy of the
certificate shall be mailed to the department.
(g) Persons who voluntarily plug an orphan well.--Persons
who voluntarily plug an orphan well may either:
(1) apply to the Commonwealth Finance Authority for a
$5,000 payment per well plugged payable from the Marcellus
Legacy Fund established under 58 Pa.C.S. § 2315 (relating to
Statewide initiatives); or
(2) be credited for each plugged well in the form of a
permit-fee waiver for any succeeding well permit application.
(h) Notification.--With respect to the coal operator, lessee
or owner, if any, notification shall be accomplished under this
section by sending notice to the persons to whom tax notices for
the workable coal seams are sent, as indicated in the assessment
books, if available, or as indicated in the records of the
recorder of deeds office in the county in which the seams are
located. If certified mail or notification is returned
undeliverable, the applicant shall include a completed affidavit
attesting to the attempted delivery, which shall satisfy the
notification requirements under this section.
Section 311. Alternative methods.
If provision is made in this act for adoption of regulatory
requirements for casing, plugging or equipping a well, a well
operator may request the authority to use an alternative method
or material by filing an application with the department
describing the proposed alternative method or material, in
reasonable detail, indicating the manner in which it will
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accomplish the goals of this act and regulations adopted under
this act. Notice of filing of an application shall be given by
the well operator by certified mail to all coal operator or
operators affected. A coal operator may, within 15 days
following the notice, file objections to the proposed
alternative method or material. If no objections are filed
within the 15-day period and if none are raised by the
department, the department shall make a determination whether to
allow the use of the proposed alternative method or material.
Section 312. Well reporting requirements.
(a) General rule.--A well operator shall file, either
electronically or a hard copy, with the department, on a form
provided by the department, an annual report specifying the
amount of production on the most well-specific basis available.
Annual reports shall also specify the status of each well,
except that in subsequent years only changes in the status must
be reported. The Commonwealth shall have the right to utilize
the information in enforcement proceedings, in making
designations or determinations under section 1927-A of the act
of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known as The Administrative
Code of 1929, or in aggregate form for statistical purposes.
(b) Records.--
(1) Well operators shall maintain a record of each well
drilled or altered.
(2) A record of the well containing information as
required by regulation shall be filed with the department
within 30 days of cessation of drilling.
(3) A completion report containing additional
information as required by regulation shall be filed with the
department within 30 days after the completion of the well
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and shall be kept on file by the department.
(4) Within 90 days after the completion of drilling or
recompletion of a well, if requested by the department, the
well operator shall submit a copy of the electrical,
radioactive or other standard industry logs if they have been
run.
(5) If requested by the department within one year, the
well operator shall file a copy of drill stem test charts,
formation water analysis, porosity, permeability or fluid
saturation measurements, core analysis and lithologic log or
sample description or other similar data as compiled. No
information shall be required unless the well operator has
had the information compiled in the ordinary course of
business. No interpretation of the data is to be filed.
(c) Collection of data.--Upon notification by the department
prior to commencement of drilling, the well operator shall
collect for the department additional data as the department
shall specify, such as representative drill cuttings and samples
from cores taken and any other geological information that the
operator reasonably can compile. No interpretation of the data
is to be filed.
(d) Retention and filing.--All electrical, radioactive or
other standard industry logs, drill stem test charts, formation
water analyses, porosity, permeability or fluid saturation
measurements, core analysis and lithologic logs or sample
description or other similar data as compiled, required under
subsection (b) or drill cuttings required under subsection (c),
shall be retained by the well operator and shall be filed with
the department within three years after completion of the well.
Upon request of the well operator, the department shall extend
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the date for the filing of the data, but the extension shall not
exceed five years from the date of completion of the well,
provided that the department shall have the right to utilize the
information in enforcement proceedings, in making designations
or determinations under section 1927-A of The Administrative
Code of 1929 or in aggregate form for statistical purposes.
Section 313. Notification and effect of well transfer.
The owner or operator of a well shall notify the department,
in writing, in a form as the department may direct by
regulation, of the sale, assignment, transfer, conveyance or
exchange by the owner or to the owner of the well within 30 days
after the sale, assignment, conveyance or exchange. No transfer
shall relieve the well owner or operator of an obligation
accrued under this act, nor shall it relieve the well owner or
operator of the obligation to plug the well until the
requirements of section 315 have been met, after which time the
transferring owner or operator shall be relieved from any
obligation under this act, including the obligation to plug the
well.
Section 314. Coal operator responsibilities.
(a) General rule.--
(1) At any time prior to removing coal or other
underground material or extending the workings in a coal mine
within 500 feet of an oil or gas well of which the coal
operator has knowledge or an approved well location of which
the coal operator has knowledge, the coal operator shall
forward, by certified mail, to or file with the well operator
and the department a copy of the relevant part of the coal
operator's maps and plans which it is presently required by
law to prepare and file with the department, showing the
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pillar which the coal operator proposes to leave in place
around each oil or gas well in the projected workings.
(2) Following the filing of maps and plans, the coal
operator may proceed with mining operations in the manner
projected on the maps and plans, but the coal operator shall
not remove any coal or cut any passageway within 150 feet of
a well or approved well location until written approval has
been granted as provided in this section.
(3) If, in the opinion of the well operator or the
department, the plan indicates that the pillar proposed to be
left around a well or approved well location is inadequate to
protect either the integrity of the well or the public health
and safety, the well operator affected shall attempt to agree
with the coal operator upon a suitable pillar, subject to the
approval of the department, but, failing to agree, the well
operator may, within 10 days from receipt of the plan, file
objections in accordance with section 701 to the proposed
plan indicating the size of the pillar to be left with
respect to each well.
(4) If no objections are filed within the 10-day period
or if none are raised by the department, the department shall
grant approval to the coal operator reciting the following:
(i) The filing of the maps or plans.
(ii) That no objections have been made to the plan.
(iii) That the pillar proposed to be left for each
well is approved in the manner as projected.
(b) Objections.--
(1) If objections are filed by a well operator or are
raised by the department, the department shall direct that a
conference be held in accordance with section 701 within 10
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days of the filing of the objections.
(2) At the conference the coal operator and the person
who has filed the objections shall attempt to agree upon a
proposed plan showing the pillar to be left around each well,
which will satisfy the objections and be approved by the
department, and, if the plan is agreed upon, the department
shall grant approval to the coal operator reciting the filing
of the plan and that the pillar to be left for each well is
approved as agreed upon.
(3) If no plan showing the pillar to be left with
respect to each well can be agreed upon at the conference,
the department shall, by an appropriate order, determine the
pillar to be left with respect to the well.
(4) In a proceeding under this section, the department
shall follow as nearly as possible the original plan filed by
the coal operator. The department shall not require the coal
operator to leave a pillar in excess of 100 feet in radius,
except that, if it is established that unusual conditions
exist requiring the leaving of a larger pillar, the
department may require a pillar up to but not exceeding 150
feet in radius.
(5) The pillar to be left with respect to each well as
determined by the department shall be shown on the maps or
plans on file with the department as provided in subsection
(a), and the department shall approve the pillar to be left
for each well.
(c) Pillars of reduced size.--Application may be made at any
time to the department by a coal operator to leave a pillar of
less size than that shown on the plan filed by the operator or
approved or determined by the department under the provisions of
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this section. If an application is filed, the department may,
following the procedure prescribed in this section, by an
appropriate order, determine a different plan showing a pillar
of less size with respect to all wells covered by the
application and shall grant approval for the pillar to be left
with respect to each well.
(d) Violation.--No coal operator shall, without the written
approval of the department after notice and opportunity for
hearing as prescribed in this section, remove any coal or cut
any passageway so as to leave a pillar of less size with respect
to an oil or gas well than that approved by the department under
this act.
(e) Construction.--Nothing in this act shall be construed to
require a well operator to pay for a coal pillar required by law
to be left around a well drilled prior to April 18, 1985. A
requirement for a coal operator to leave a pillar of coal of a
certain size around a well drilled after April 18, 1985, shall
not in any way affect the rights which the coal operator would
have had prior to April 18, 1985, to obtain payment for the
coal, nor any duty or right which the well operator, storage
operator or land owner may have had prior to April 18, 1985, to
pay for or not to pay for the coal.
(f) Mining through plugged wells.--A coal operator who
intends to mine through a plugged oil or gas well must file a
plan to completely remove a pillar from around the well in
accordance with subsection (a). This plan shall be subject to
the requirements of this section. No coal operator may mine
through a plugged oil or gas well of which the coal operator has
knowledge until written approval has been granted by the
department in accordance with this section.
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(g) Establishment of conditions.--The Bureau of Deep Mine
Safety in the department shall have the authority to establish
the conditions under which the department may approve a coal
operator's plan to mine through a plugged oil or gas well.
Section 315. Bonding.
(a) General rule.--
(1) Upon filing an application for a well permit and
before continuing to operate an oil or gas well, the owner or
operator of an oil or gas well shall file with the department
a bond for the well and the well site on a form to be
prescribed and furnished by the department. A bond filed with
an application for a well permit shall be payable to the
Commonwealth and conditioned that the operator shall
faithfully perform all of the drilling, water supply
replacement, restoration and plugging requirements of this
act. No bond or bond substitute shall be required for any
well drilled prior to April 18, 1985, where the well would
have otherwise been subject to the bonding requirements of
section 215 or 603.1 of the former act of December 19, 1984
(P.L.1140, No.223), known as the Oil and Gas Act. The amount
of the bond required shall be in the amount of $2,500 per
well for at least two years following the effective date of
this act, after which time the bond amount may be adjusted by
the Environmental Quality Board every five years to reflect
the projected costs to the Commonwealth of performing well
plugging.
(2) In lieu of individual bonds for each well, an owner
or operator may file a blanket bond, on a form prepared by
the department, covering all of its wells in this
Commonwealth as enumerated on the bond form. A blanket bond
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shall be in the amount of $25,000 for at least five years
following the effective date of this act, after which time
the bond amount may be adjusted by the Environmental Quality
Board every two years to reflect the projected costs to the
Commonwealth of performing well plugging. An adjustment may
not exceed the prior amount by more than $10,000.
(3) Liability under the bond shall continue until the
well has been properly plugged in accordance with this act
and for a period of one year after filing of the certificate
of plugging with the department. Each bond shall be executed
by the operator and a corporate surety licensed to do
business in this Commonwealth and approved by the secretary.
The operator may elect to deposit cash, certificates of
deposit or automatically renewable irrevocable letters of
credit from financial institutions chartered or authorized to
do business in Pennsylvania and regulated and examined by a
Federal agency or the Commonwealth, which may be terminated
at the end of a term only upon the financial institution
giving 90 days' prior written notice to the permittee and the
department or negotiable bonds of the United States
Government or the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Commission, the State Public School Building Authority or any
municipality within the Commonwealth, or United States
Treasury Bonds issued at a discount without a regular
schedule of interest payments to maturity, otherwise known as
zero coupon bonds, having a maturity date of not more than 10
years after the date of purchase and at the maturity date
having a value of not less than $25,000, with the department
in lieu of a corporate surety. The cash deposit, certificate
of deposit, amount of the irrevocable letter of credit or
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market value of the securities shall be equal at least to the
sum of the bond. The secretary shall, upon receipt of
deposits of cash, letters of credit or negotiable bonds,
immediately place the cash, letters of credit or negotiable
bonds with the State Treasurer, whose duty it shall be to
receive and hold the cash, letters of credit or negotiable
bonds in the name of the Commonwealth, in trust, for the
purpose for which the deposit is made. The State Treasurer
shall at all times be responsible for the custody and
safekeeping of deposits. The operator making deposit shall be
entitled from time to time to demand and receive from the
State Treasurer, on the written order of the secretary, the
whole or any portion of collateral deposited upon depositing
with the State Treasurer, in lieu of the collateral
deposited, other collateral of the classes specified in this
act having a market value at least equal to the sum of the
bond and also to demand, receive and recover the interest and
income from the negotiable bonds as the bonds become due and
payable. When negotiable bonds mature or are called, the
State Treasurer, at the request of the owner of the bonds,
shall convert the negotiable bonds into other negotiable
bonds of the classes specified in this act as may be
designated by the owner. If notice of intent to terminate a
letter of credit is given, the department shall give the
operator 30 days' written notice to replace the letter of
credit with other acceptable bond guarantees as provided in
this act, and if the owner or operator fails to replace the
letter of credit within the 30-day notification period, the
department shall draw upon and convert the letter of credit
into cash and hold it as a collateral bond guarantee.
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(b) Release.--No bond shall be fully released until all
requirements of this act identified in subsection (a) or section
313 are fully met. Upon release of all of the bonds and
collateral as provided in this section, the State Treasurer
shall immediately return to the owner the amount of cash or
securities specified in the bond.
(c) Noncompliance.--
(1) If a well owner or operator fails or refuses to
comply with the applicable requirements of subsection (a),
the regulations promulgated under this act or the conditions
of the permit relating to this act, the department may
declare the bond forfeited and shall certify the same to the
Attorney General, who shall proceed to enforce and collect
the full amount of the bond and, where the owner or operator
has deposited cash or securities as collateral in lieu of a
corporate surety, the department shall declare the collateral
forfeited and shall direct the State Treasurer to pay the
full amount of the funds into the Well Plugging Restricted
Revenue Account or to proceed to sell the security to the
extent forfeited and pay the proceeds of the sale into the
Well Plugging Restricted Revenue Account.
(2) A corporate surety or financial institution that
fails to promptly pay in full a forfeited bond shall be
disqualified from writing further bonds under this act or
other environmental act administered by the department.
(3) A person aggrieved by reason of forfeiting the bond
or converting collateral under this section shall have a
right to appeal to the Environmental Hearing Board in the
manner provided by law.
(4) Upon forfeiture of a blanket bond for a violation
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occurring at one or more well sites, the person whose bond is
forfeited shall submit a replacement bond to cover all other
wells the person owns or operates within 10 days of the
forfeiture. Failure to submit the replacement bond
constitutes a violation of this section as to each of the
wells owned or operated by the person.
(d) Individuals.--
(1) An individual who cannot obtain a bond to drill new
wells due to an inability to demonstrate financial resources
may meet the collateral bond requirements of subsection (a)
by making phased deposits of collateral to fully
collateralize the bond. Individuals shall be limited to
drilling 10 new wells per calendar year. The individual
shall, for each well to be drilled, deposit $500 and shall,
thereafter, annually deposit 10% of the remaining bond amount
for a period of 10 years. Interest accumulated by the
collateral shall become a part of the bond until the time
when the collateral, plus accumulated interest, equals the
amount of the required bond. The collateral shall be
deposited, in trust, with the State Treasurer as provided in
subsection (a) or with a bank selected by the department
which shall act as trustee for the benefit of the
Commonwealth, to guarantee the individual's compliance with
the drilling, water supply replacement, restoration and
plugging requirements of this act. The individual shall be
required to pay all costs of the trust.
(2) Individuals may continue to use phased collateral to
obtain permits so long as they have not missed payments for
wells drilled under this subsection and so long as they
remain in compliance with this act and regulations and
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permits issued under this act. If an individual has missed
payments for wells under this subsection, the operator shall:
(i) immediately submit the appropriate bond amount
in full; or
(ii) cease all operations and plug the wells in
accordance with section 310.
(3) For the purposes of this subsection, the term
"individual" means an applicant who is a natural person doing
business under the person's own name.
(e) Preservation of remedies.--All remedies for violation of
this act, regulations adopted under this act and conditions of
permits are expressly preserved. Nothing in this section shall
be construed as an exclusive penalty or remedy for violations of
law. No action taken under this section shall waive or impair
any other remedy or penalty provided in law.
(f) Change of law.--Owners or operators who have failed to
meet the requirements of this section prior to August 1, 1992,
shall not be required to make payments under this section on a
retroactive basis as a condition of obtaining a permit under
this act nor shall the failure be deemed a violation of this
act.
CHAPTER 5
UNDERGROUND GAS STORAGE
Section 501. Underground gas storage.
Underground gas storage shall be conducted in accordance with
58 Pa.C.S. Ch. 32 Subch. C (relating to underground gas
storage).
CHAPTER 7
ENFORCEMENT AND REMEDIES
Section 701. Conferences.
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(a) General rule.--The department or a person having a
direct interest in a matter subject to this act may, at any
time, request that a conference be held for the purpose of
discussing and endeavoring to resolve by mutual agreement a
matter arising under this act. Unless otherwise provided,
conferences shall be held within 90 days after a request for a
conference is received by the department, and notice of the
conference shall be given by the department to all interested
parties. A representative of the department shall attend the
conference and the department may make recommendations. An
agreement reached at a conference shall be consistent with this
act and, if approved by the department, the agreement shall be
reduced to writing and shall be effective, unless reviewed and
rejected by the department, within 10 days after the close of
the conference. The record of an agreement approved by the
department shall be kept on file by the department with copies
furnished to the parties. Scheduling of a conference shall not
affect the authority of the department to issue an appropriate
order to compel compliance with this act.
(b) Notification.--If a coal operator is to be given notice
by the department of a proceeding to be held under this section,
the department shall also send simultaneously a copy of the
notice to the collective bargaining representative of the
employees of the coal operator.
Section 702. Public nuisances.
A violation of section 306, 307, 308, 309 or 310 or of a
rule, regulation, order, term or condition of a permit relating
to those sections constitutes a public nuisance.
Section 703. Enforcement orders.
(a) General rule.--Except as modified by subsections (b),
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(c) and (d), the department may issue orders necessary to aid in
enforcement of this act. An order issued under this act shall
take effect upon notice, unless the order specifies otherwise.
The power of the department to issue an order under this act is
in addition to any other remedy which may be afforded to the
department under this act or other law.
(b) Suspension and revocation.--
(1) The department may suspend or revoke a well permit
or well registration for a well in continuing violation of
the following:
(i) This act.
(ii) The act of June 22, 1937 (P.L.1987, No.394),
known as The Clean Streams Law.
(iii) The act of July 7, 1980 (P.L.380, No.97),
known as the Solid Waste Management Act.
(iv) Any other statute administered by the
department.
(2) The right of the department to revoke a permit or
registration under this subsection shall not be effective
until a final administrative determination has been made of
the violation and no appeal is pending in which a stay has
been granted.
(3) A suspension order of the department shall
automatically terminate if the violation upon which it is
based is corrected by the operator in order to bring the well
into compliance with this act.
(c) Written notice.--Prior to the suspension or revocation
of a well permit or registration, the department shall serve
written notice upon the well operator or its agent of the
intention of the department to suspend or revoke and shall state
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with specificity the statutory provisions, appropriate rule or
regulation or other reason and the factual circumstances which
surround the violation upon which the suspension or revocation
is based. The well operator shall have 15 days to request a
conference with the department to give cause why the action
should not be taken. Upon receipt of the written notice, the
department shall hold a conference and shall, within 15 days
after the conference, make a decision on whether to suspend or
revoke the well permit or registration. The department shall
provide written notice of the department's decision to the well
operator or its agent, which shall become effective upon receipt
of the notice.
(d) Immediate orders.--An order of the department requiring
the immediate cessation of drilling operations shall only be
effective if authorized by the secretary or a designee.
(e) Grievances.--A person aggrieved by an order of the
department issued under this section shall have the right,
within 30 days of receipt of the notice, to appeal the action to
the Environmental Hearing Board.
Section 704. Restraining violations.
(a) General rule.--In addition to other remedies provided in
this act, the department may institute a suit in equity in the
name of the Commonwealth for an injunction to restrain a
violation of this act or the rules, regulations, standards or
orders adopted or issued under this act and to restrain the
maintenance or threat of a public nuisance. Upon motion of the
Commonwealth, the court shall issue a prohibitory or mandatory
preliminary injunction if the court finds that the defendant is
engaging in unlawful conduct, as defined by this act, or in
conduct causing immediate and irreparable harm to the public.
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The Commonwealth shall not be required to furnish bond or other
security in connection with the proceedings. In addition to an
injunction, the court, in equity, may level civil penalties as
specified in section 706.
(b) District attorney.--In addition to other remedies in
this act, upon relation of the district attorney of a county
affected or upon relation of the solicitor of a municipality
affected, an action in equity may be brought in a court of
competent jurisdiction for an injunction to restrain a violation
of this act or the rules and regulations promulgated under this
act or to restrain a public nuisance or detriment to health.
(c) Concurrent penalties.--Penalties and remedies under this
act shall be deemed concurrent. Existence or exercise of a
remedy shall not prevent the department from exercising another
remedy at law or in equity.
(d) Jurisdiction.--Actions instituted under this section may
be filed in the appropriate court of common pleas or in
Commonwealth Court, and those courts are granted jurisdiction to
hear the actions.
Section 705. Criminal penalties.
(a) General violation.--A person who violates a provision of
this act commits a summary offense and, upon conviction, shall
be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $300 or to
imprisonment of not more than 90 days, or both. Each day during
which the violation continues is a separate and distinct
offense.
(b) Willful violation.--A person who willfully violates a
provision of this act or an order of the department issued under
this act commits a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be
sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $5,000 or to
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imprisonment of not more than one year, or both. Each day during
which the violation continues is a separate and distinct
offense.
(c) Authority.--The department may institute a prosecution
against a person or municipality for a violation of this act.
Section 706. Civil penalties.
In addition to other remedies available at law or in equity
for a violation of this act, a rule or regulation of the
department or an order of the department, the Environmental
Hearing Board, after a hearing, may assess a civil penalty
regardless of whether or not the violation was willful, but
penalties need not be assessed for accidental violations or
those that resulted in no damage or risk of adverse effect on
natural resources or the property of others. The civil penalty
shall not exceed $25,000, plus $1,000 for each day during which
the violation continues. In determining the amount, the
Environmental Hearing Board shall consider the willfulness of
the violation, damage or injury to the natural resources of this
Commonwealth or their uses, endangerment of the safety of
others, costs of remedying the harm, savings resulting to the
violator as a result of the violation and other relevant
factors. The Environmental Hearing Board shall mitigate the
penalty amount for any person who voluntarily plugged an orphan
well in accordance with this act. The penalty shall be payable
to the Orphan Well Plugging Fund and shall be collectible in the
manner provided at law for the collection of debts. If a person
liable to pay a penalty neglects or refuses to pay the same
after demand, the amount, together with interest and costs that
may accrue, shall become a lien in favor of the Commonwealth on
the real and personal property of the violator, but only after
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the lien has been entered and docketed of record by the
prothonotary of the county where the property is situated. The
Environmental Hearing Board may transmit to the prothonotaries
of the respective counties certified copies of the liens, and it
shall be the duty of each prothonotary to enter and docket the
liens of record in the prothonotary's office and index them as
judgments are indexed, without requiring payment of costs as a
condition precedent to entry. Notwithstanding any other
provision of law to the contrary, actions for civil penalties
under this act may be commenced at any time within a period of
five years from the date the offense is discovered.
Section 707. Existing rights and remedies preserved and
cumulative remedies authorized.
Nothing in this act shall prevent the Commonwealth or a
district attorney from proceeding in a court of law or in equity
to abate pollution forbidden under this act or abate a nuisance
under existing law. It is declared to be the purpose of this act
to provide additional and cumulative remedies to control
activities related to drilling for or production of oil and gas
within this Commonwealth, and nothing in this act abridges or
alters rights of action or remedies existing in equity or under
the common law or statutory law, criminal or civil. Neither this
act, the granting of a permit under this act nor an act done by
virtue of this act stops the Commonwealth in exercising rights
under the common law or decisional law or in equity, from
suppressing a nuisance, abating pollution or enforcing common
law or statutory rights. No court of this Commonwealth with
jurisdiction to abate public or private nuisances shall be
deprived of jurisdiction in an action to abate a private or
public nuisance instituted by a person on grounds that the
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nuisance constitutes air or water pollution.
Section 708. Production of materials, witnesses, depositions
and rights of entry.
(a) General rule.--The department may make inspections,
conduct tests or sampling or examine books, papers and records
pertinent to a matter under investigation under this act it
deems necessary to determine compliance with this act, and duly
authorized agents and employees of the department are authorized
at all reasonable times to enter and examine a property,
facility, operation or activity.
(b) Entry and access.--An owner, operator or other person in
charge of a property, facility, operation or activity, upon
presentation of proper identification and purpose for inspection
by the agents or employees of the department, shall give the
agents and employees free and unrestricted entry and access and,
upon refusal to grant entry or access, the agent or employee may
obtain a search warrant or other order authorizing entry and
inspection. It is sufficient probable cause to issue a search
warrant authorizing an examination and inspection if there is
probable cause to believe that the object of the investigation
is subject to regulation under this act and that access,
examination or inspection is necessary to enforce the provisions
of this act.
(c) Department powers.--The department shall have the power
in any part of this Commonwealth to subpoena witnesses,
administer oaths, examine witnesses, take testimony or compel
the production of books, records, maps, plats, papers, documents
and other writings as it may deem necessary or proper and
pertinent to proceedings or investigation held by the
department. In case of refusal to obey a subpoena served upon a
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person, the court shall, on application of the department, have
power to enforce the subpoena in contempt proceedings. The fees
for serving a subpoena shall be the same as those paid to
sheriffs for similar services.
(d) Witnesses.--The department or a party to proceedings
before the department may depose witnesses residing within or
outside this Commonwealth in the manner prescribed by law for
taking depositions in civil actions.
(e) Witness fees.--Witnesses summoned before the department
shall be paid the same fees as those paid to witnesses in the
courts of record of general jurisdiction. Witnesses whose
depositions are taken under this act and the officers taking the
depositions shall be entitled to the same fees as those paid for
similar services in the courts.
(f) Ownership information.--A purchaser of oil or gas shall,
upon request, provide to the department information necessary
for the department to determine ownership of facilities from
which the oil or gas was obtained. The purchaser shall provide
notice to the owner of the facilities identified to the
department. The information shall be kept confidential for a
period of five years. The department shall have the right to
utilize the information in enforcement proceedings. The
department may only request information under this section when
a well does not meet the requirements of section 301(h).
Section 709. Unlawful conduct.
It shall be unlawful for a person to:
(1) Drill, alter, operate or utilize an oil or gas well
without a permit or registration from the department as
required by this act or in violation of the rules or
regulations adopted under this act, orders of the department
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or in violation of a permit issued by the department.
(2) Conduct activities related to drilling for or
production of oil and gas:
(i) contrary to this act, rules or regulations
adopted under this act, an order of the department or a
term or condition of a permit; or
(ii) in a manner that creates a public nuisance or
adversely affects public health, safety, welfare or the
environment.
(3) Refuse, obstruct, delay or threaten an agent or
employee of the department in the course of lawful
performance of any duty under this act, including, but not
limited to, entry and inspection.
(4) Attempt to obtain a permit or identify a well as an
orphan well by misrepresentation or failure to disclose all
relevant facts.
(5) Cause the abandonment of a well by removing casing
or equipment necessary for production without plugging the
well in a manner prescribed under section 310. The owner or
operator of a well may temporarily remove casing or equipment
necessary for production if it is part of the normal course
of production activities.
Section 710. Collection of fines and penalties.
Fines and penalties shall be collectible in the manner
provided by law for the collection of debts. If a person liable
to pay a penalty neglects or refuses to pay after demand, the
amount, together with interest and costs that may accrue, shall
be a judgment in favor of the Commonwealth upon the person's
property, but only after the judgment has been entered and
docketed of record by the prothonotary of the county where the
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property is situated. The department may, at any time, transmit
to the prothonotaries of the respective counties certified
copies of all judgments, and it shall be the duty of each
prothonotary to enter and docket them in the prothonotary's
office and index them as judgments are indexed, without
requiring the payment of costs as a condition precedent to
entry.
Section 711. Third party liability.
If a person other than the well operator renders a service or
product to a well or well site, that person is liable with the
well owner or operator for violations of this act arising out of
and caused by the person's actions at the well or well site, in
accordance with State law.
Section 712. Inspection reports.
(a) Posting required.--The department shall post inspection
reports on its publicly accessible Internet website. The
inspection reports shall include:
(1) The nature and description of violations.
(2) The operator's written response to the violation, if
available.
(3) The status of the violation.
(4) The remedial steps taken by the operator or the
department to address the violation.
(b) Removal.--The department shall remove a notice of
violation issued in error from the public record as soon as
practical after the department learns of the error.
(c) Training required.--The department shall provide
adequate training to its inspectors.
(d) Minor violations.--The department will adopt a practice
and procedure to alleviate the unwarranted use of notices of
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violation for minor violations that pose no material harm to the
public health or environment, including the development of
separate forms for inspections where warnings rather than
notices of violation will be issued and where compliance can be
accomplished within 48 hours. Warnings under this subsection,
and the alleged violations upon which they are based, may not be
the basis for a civil penalty when compliance is achieved within
48 hours.
CHAPTER 9
RELATED FUNDS, PARTIES AND ACTIVITIES
Section 901. Well plugging funds.
(a) Appropriation.--Fines and civil penalties collected
under this act shall be deposited in the Orphan Well Plugging
Fund. Other than permit fee surcharges under this section,
permit fees collected under this act are hereby appropriated to
the department to carry out the provisions of this act.
(b) Abandoned Well Plugging Fund.--To aid in indemnifying
the Commonwealth for the cost of plugging abandoned wells, a $50
surcharge is added to the permit fee established by the
department under section 301 for new wells. Money collected as a
result of a surcharge shall be paid into the Abandoned Well
Plugging Fund and shall be expended by the department to plug
abandoned wells which threaten the health and safety of persons
or property or pollute the waters of this Commonwealth.
(c) Orphan Well Plugging Fund.--
(1) A $100 surcharge for wells to be drilled for oil
production and a $200 surcharge for wells to be drilled for
gas production are added to the permit fee established by the
department under section 301 for new wells. Surcharges shall
be deposited into the Orphan Well Plugging Fund and shall be
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expended by the department to plug orphan wells. If an
operator rehabilitates a well abandoned by another operator
or an orphan well, the permit fee and the surcharge for the
well shall be waived.
(2) Expenditures by the department for plugging orphan
wells shall be limited to fees collected under this act and
58 Pa.C.S. Ch. 32 (relating to development).
Section 902. Local ordinances.
Except with respect to ordinances adopted under the act of
July 31, 1968 (P.L.805, No.247), known as the Pennsylvania
Municipalities Planning Code, and the act of October 4, 1978
(P.L.851, No.166), known as the Flood Plain Management Act, all
local ordinances and enactments purporting to regulate oil and
gas well operations regulated by this act are superseded. No
ordinances or enactments adopted under the Pennsylvania
Municipalities Planning Code or the Flood Plain Management Act
shall impose conditions, requirements or limitations on the same
features of oil and gas well operations regulated by this act or
that accomplish the same purposes as set forth in this act. The
Commonwealth, by this enactment, preempts and supersedes the
regulation of oil and gas wells.
Section 903. Effect on department authority.
This act does not affect, limit or impair the right or
authority of the department under the act of June 22, 1937
(P.L.1987, No.394), known as The Clean Streams Law, the act of
January 8, 1960 (1959 P.L.2119, No.787), known as the Air
Pollution Control Act, the act of November 26, 1978 (P.L.1375,
No.325), known as the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, and the
act of July 7, 1980 (P.L.380, No.97), known as the Solid Waste
Management Act.
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Section 904. Relationship to solid waste, surface mining,
underground injection wells, wastewater treatment and
recycling by centralized waste treatment facilities
and storage tanks.
(a) General rule.--The obligation to obtain a permit and
post a bond under Articles III and V of the act of July 7, 1980
(P.L.380, No.97), known as the Solid Waste Management Act, and
to provide public notice under section 1905-A(b)(1)(v) of the
act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known as The
Administrative Code of 1929, for a pit, impoundment, method or
facility employed for the disposal, processing or storage of
residual wastes generated by the drilling of an oil or gas well
or from the production of a well which is located on the well
site shall be satisfied if the owner or operator of the well
meets the following conditions:
(1) the well is permitted under the requirements of
section 301 or was registered under the former act of
December 19, 1984 (P.L.1140, No.223), known as the Oil and
Gas Act;
(2) the owner or operator satisfies the financial
security requirements of section 315 by obtaining a surety or
collateral bond for the well and well site; and
(3) the owner or operator maintains compliance with this
act and applicable regulations of the Environmental Quality
Board.
(b) Noncoal surface mining.--Obligations under the act of
December 19, 1984 (P.L.1093, No.219), known as the Noncoal
Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act, or rule or
regulation promulgated under the Noncoal Surface Mining
Conservation and Reclamation Act, for a borrow area where
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minerals are extracted solely for the purpose of oil and gas
well development, including access road construction, shall be
satisfied if the owner or operator of the well meets the
conditions imposed under subsection (a)(1) and (2) and the owner
or operator maintains compliance with this act and applicable
regulations of the Environmental Quality Board.
(c) Solid Waste Management Act.--Except as otherwise
provided in this section, nothing in this section shall diminish
duties or obligations that an owner or operator may have under
the Solid Waste Management Act. This section shall not apply to
waste classified as hazardous waste under the Solid Waste
Management Act or the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of
1976 (Public Law 94-580, 42 U.S.C. § 6901 et seq.).
(d) Road spreading of brine for dust control, road
stabilization, anti-icing and de-icing.--Consistent with the
provisions of the Solid Waste Management Act which require the
department to encourage the beneficial use or reuse of residual
waste derived from commercial and industrial purposes where the
use does not harm or threaten public health, safety, welfare or
the environment, the department shall approve the use of brine
for dust control, road stabilization, anti-icing and de-icing
upon application using forms developed by the department and in
accordance with conditions reasonably necessary for the
protection of the environment and prevention of pollution. With
respect to any aspect of water quality, applicants may rely on
regional characterization of the brine. The department may not
impose conditions requiring brine to exceed the physical
character or chemical composition of a commercial product for
which the brine is an effective substitute. Persons engaged in
the beneficial uses of brine shall maintain records and make
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reports as the department requires.
(e) Secondary products from produced water.--Notwithstanding
any provision of law to the contrary and to promote beneficial
uses and legitimate recycling, material derived from produced
water from conventional formations, including, but not limited
to, salt, is not waste if:
(1) the material is of a physical character and chemical
composition that is consistently equivalent to an
intentionally manufactured product or raw material; and
(2) the use of the material presents no greater threat
of harm to human health and the environment than the use of
the product or raw material.
(f) Regional characterization of produced water.--Generators
of produced water from conventional formations may satisfy an
obligation to provide a chemical analysis of the waste through
certification that the physical properties and chemical
composition of the produced water are fairly represented by a
regional analysis of produced water submitted to the department
and the solid waste management or treatment facility that
receives the waste.
(g) Class II injection wells.--Notwithstanding any provision
of law to the contrary, Class II well permits issued by the
Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to the Safe Drinking
Water Act (Public Law 93-523, 21 U.S.C. § 349 and 42 U.S.C. §§
201 and 300f et seq.) shall be deemed to satisfy the
department's obligation to consider potential pollution
resulting from underground injection or disposal to the wells.
Unless or until the Commonwealth takes primacy of the Class II
Underground Injection Control (UIC) program, the department's
review and approval, if any, of injection wells shall be limited
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to a review of surface activities related to construction,
modification, operation or closure of the well.
(h) Wastewater treatment and recycling requirements.--A
centralized waste treatment facility that was authorized by the
department prior to August 20, 2010, to treat, for disposal,
recycling or recovery of material, wastewater generated from
exploration, production or gathering activities associated with
conventional oil and gas well operations or any new centralized
waste treatment facility that treats, for disposal, recycling or
recovery of material, wastewater generated from exploration,
production or gathering activities associated with conventional
oil and gas well operations shall not be subject to the
requirements of 25 Pa. Code § 95.10 (relating to treatment
requirements for new and expanding mass loadings of Total
Dissolved Solids (TDS)). As used in this subsection, the term
"centralized waste treatment facility" shall have the meaning
given to the term "centralized waste treatment (CWT) facility"
in 40 CFR 437.2(c) (relating to general definitions).
(i) Storage tanks.--Permanent aboveground or underground
tanks that are used to store brines, crude oil, drilling or frac
fluids and similar substances or materials and are directly
related to the exploration, development or production of crude
oil or natural gas regulated under this act, as well as liquid
traps and associated gathering lines directly related to oil or
gas production and gathering operations, are exempt from the
obligations under the act of July 6, 1989 (P.L.169, No.32),
known as the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act, and any rule
or regulation promulgated under the Storage Tank and Spill
Prevention Act.
CHAPTER 11
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MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
Section 1101. Regulatory authority.
(a) General rule.--The Environmental Quality Board shall
promulgate regulations to implement the provisions of this act.
The board shall consult with the council in the formulation and
development of all regulations and policies effecting
conventional oil and gas operations to ensure consistency with
the duties of the council and purposes of the act of June 23,
2016 (P.L.375, No.52), known as the Pennsylvania Grade Crude
Development Act. Policies adopted by the department after April
16, 2012, shall expire within three years of the effective date
of this act with respect to conventional operations unless
revised and reissued in accordance with this section.
(b) Limited applicability.--Immediately upon the effective
date of this subsection, the provisions of 58 Pa.C.S. § 3226
(relating to Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board) are limited
in applicability to unconventional oil and gas operations. The
department may consult with the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory
Board in the formulation, drafting or presentation stages of
regulations applicable to conventional oil and gas operations.
Section 1102. Construction.
(a) Unconventional wells.--Nothing in this act shall be
construed to apply to unconventional wells.
(b) Coal and Gas Resource Coordination Act.--
(1) The requirements under section 5 of the act of
December 18, 1984 (P.L.1069, No.214), known as the Coal and
Gas Resource Coordination Act, for the issuance of a permit
under the former act of December 19, 1984 (P.L.1140, No.223),
known as the Oil and Gas Act, shall apply to this act.
(2) Nothing in this act shall be construed to change,
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repeal or otherwise affect the provisions of the Coal and Gas
Resource Coordination Act.
Section 1103. Land recycling and remediation.
(a) General rule.--The cleanup and remediation of spills and
releases from oil and natural gas operations shall not be
required to comply with the notice and review provisions of the
act of May 19, 1995 (P.L.4, No.2), known as the Land Recycling
and Environmental Remediation Standards Act. The provisions of
this section shall not be construed to affect, limit or impair
other obligations or rights of operators or other responsible
parties established under the Land Recycling and Environmental
Remediation Standards Act whenever site remediation is
voluntarily conducted or required.
(b) Reporting.--The following apply to spills onto the
ground at a well site:
(1) The following spills must be reported within two
hours of discovery:
(i) more than 5 barrels of oil within a 24-hour
period; or
(ii) more than 15 barrels of brine within a 24-hour
period if the total dissolved solids concentration of the
brine is equal to or greater than 10,000 mg/kg.
(2) Spills of less than 5 barrels of oil or less than 15
barrels of brine need not be reported unless there is an
immediate threat to public health, safety or the environment.
(c) Water pollution.--A spill from oil and natural gas
operations polluting or threatening to pollute waters of this
Commonwealth must be reported immediately upon discovery.
(d) Standard for crude oil in soil.--Notwithstanding the
provisions of 25 Pa. Code Ch. 250 (relating to administration of
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Land Recycling Program), the attainment standard for crude oil
in soil shall be 10,000 mg/kg of total petroleum hydrocarbons.
For sites remediated under the attainment standard under this
subsection, the person conducting the remediation shall submit a
report to the department documenting attainment of the standard.
The remediation standard is not applicable to spills or releases
involving materials other than crude oil.
(e) Conventional oil and gas operations.--Regardless of
whether a person conducts remediation in accordance with the
Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act,
remediation of a spill related to conventional oil and gas
operations may be conducted according to established field
practices, including bioremediation, to attain the chosen
cleanup standards consistent with the protection of public
health and the environment.
Section 1104. Repeal.
Repeals are as follows:
(1) The provisions of 58 Pa.C.S. (relating to oil and
gas) are repealed insofar as they relate to conventional
wells.
(2) All acts and parts of acts are repealed insofar as
they are inconsistent with this act.
Section 1105. Continuation.
Except as otherwise provided in this act, all conventional
oil and gas well activities initiated under 58 Pa.C.S. (relating
to oil and gas) or under the former act of December 19, 1984
(P.L.1140, No.223), known as the Oil and Gas Act, shall continue
and remain in full force and effect and may be completed under
this act. Orders, rules and decisions which were made under 58
Pa.C.S. or the former Oil and Gas Act as to conventional wells
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and which are in effect on the effective date of this section
shall remain in full force and effect until revoked, vacated or
modified under this act. Contracts, obligations and collective
bargaining agreements entered into under 58 Pa.C.S. are not
affected nor impaired by this act. Nothing in this act shall
alter the common law establishing the subsurface as the dominant
estate in Pennsylvania, or alter or abridge the terms of any
contract, mortgage or other agreement entered into prior to the
effective date of this section.
Section 1106. Effective date.
This act shall take effect immediately.
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