Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 7th October (Reuters) - Pennsylvania adopts new regulations regarding the exploration and extraction of natural gas via fracking, effective Saturday, 8th October in Pennsylvania, the first remodelling since the industry took off in the state more than 10 years ago.
With the implementation of the new rules, the state's department of environmental protection is allowed to require additional measures in case of fracking being conducted near public resources, and makes it necessary for the drillers to restore water supply that gets degraded through fracking operations.
Environmental groups hailed the new rules. An oil and gas industry group blasted the regulations, with a spokesman saying he expected legal challenges.
The rules have been under development since 2011, and they suffered oppression from the oil and gas industry and it's allies in the state legislature, where the regulations were rejected earlier this year.
Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, came to an understanding that gives conventional oil and gas wells varied rules than the 'unconventional' wells developed through fracking operations.
Hydraulic Fracturing i.e. fracking, incorporates injection of water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into the rock to withdraw natural gas and other products. Oppression has mounted due to the fact that the run-off from fracking operations has been blamed for contaminating water supplies in parts of the States.
In March, residents near Dimock in the northeast corner of the state won $4.2 million in damages from Cabot Oil & Gas for the contamination of well water. The verdict is being appealed.
Thomas Au of the Sierra Club in Harrisburg said one of the biggest changes in the new regulations involves industry reporting of spills and contamination. "It's much more thorough," he said.
Daniel Weaver, President, Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association boosted the new regulations in a statement, saying that they are a result of a "flawed, pre-determined and antagonistic development process."
Industries cannot challenge state regulations in court until they go into effect. Au said he expects there will be litigation over some of the new rules.
(Reporting By David DeKok in Harrisburg)