The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has scheduled a meeting in May with natural gas and oil companies that hold permits to drill in the Marcellus Shale to discuss what steps the industry will be required to take to prevent gas from mitigating from wells and polluting the state’s natural resources.

The meeting is scheduled for May 13 in Harrisburg, PA.

“The Department of Environmental Protection has a constitutional and statutory obligation to protect Pennsylvania’s environment,” said DEP Secretary John Hanger. “That right is not for sale and is not subject to compromise.”

Hanger said drilling for gas in the state “can be done responsibly without putting the citizens of Pennsylvania, their property or livelihoods at risk. I am urging the industry to come and discuss how to effectively and safely prevent gas migration, protect our natural resources, and ensure that what happened to the residents of Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, does not happen elsewhere.”

Last week DEP suspended its review of Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.’s pending drilling applications statewide and barred the producer from drilling new natural gas wells “for at least one year” in the Dimock Township area of Susquehanna County because of contaminated groundwater (see Daily GPI, April 19).

The suspension is in place until the Houston-based producer fulfills its obligations under a sweeping consent order and agreement (CO&A) issued by DEP following the producer’s failure to abide by the terms of a November 2009 CO&A, said Hanger (see Daily GPI, Nov. 6, 2009).

“Gas migration is unacceptable and the department is taking every precaution necessary to address this issue to protect our citizens and their communities,” Hanger said. “In addition to increased oversight, the department has proposed tougher regulations to meet the growing demand and new drilling technologies including improving well construction standards to protect from gas migration.”

©Copyright 2010Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.