Broader scope of oil and gas extraction

The booming oil and gas industry has led to an expansion of laws in Pennsylvania and other states aimed at protecting water supplies, an analysis by a group of regulators representing 20 states has found.

The report released Wednesday by the Ground Water Protection Council, a nonprofit comprising leaders from state environmental protection and conservation agencies, looked at laws in 27 states that make up more than 98 percent of the country’s oil and gas production.

These states, including Pennsylvania, have increased regulations that cover a broader scope of oil and gas extraction operations since the group’s first report in 2009.

Pennsylvania officials say the Keystone state is aggressively legislating and inspecting activities by drillers to protect water resources, but environmental groups question whether they have been effective — especially given legal and administrative delays.

Pennsylvania passed regulations in 2011 prescribing cementing, design and construction practices for gas wells and is writing regulations based on Act 13, a comprehensive overhaul of laws on drilling. A state board is scheduled to review those changes in January.

“Those improved well construction practices have really been credited with a significant reduction in groundwater impact,” said Scott Perry, deputy secretary for the Office of Oil and Gas Management in the Department of Environment Protection.

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