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Pa. oil and gas industry association takes DEP to court

| Saturday, June 20, 2015, 12:01 a.m.

An oil and gas industry group on Friday accused Pennsylvania regulators of improperly including certain environmental requirements on applications for state well permits.

In two court filings, the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association says the state Supreme Court threw out a section of the Act 13 oil and gas law of 2012 that allowed the Department of Environmental Protection to seek extra steps on the applications. The provisions require drillers in some cases to complete a form related to potential impacts on public resources, and consider potential effects of drilling on protected animals and plants.

“DEP cannot continue to require our industry to comply with these invalidated and enjoined provisions without obtaining authorization from the General Assembly,” Kevin Moody, attorney for Marshall-based PIOGA, said in a release.

A DEP spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Act 13 rewrote much of the state's oil and gas law, in response to the boom in shale drilling. Several communities and groups challenged the law, and the Supreme Court in 2013 deemed parts of the law unconstitutional. The court disallowed enforcement of certain provisions related to the unconstitutional language.

DEP cites one of those disallowed provisions in the permit application requirements.

PIOGA's filings say the department can reject a permit application based on failure to follow the contested section. The group declined to say whether that has happened.

The group asked the Supreme Court for permission to intervene in the Act 13 appeal to challenge the DEP action, and filed a separate challenge in Commonwealth Court.

David Conti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5802 or dconti@tribweb.com.

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