Independent Review Completed of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Program Regulating Hydraulic Fracturing of Oil & Gas Wells

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania--()--A targeted review of the Pennsylvania program regulating the hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells has been completed by a multi-stakeholder group, which has concluded that the program is, over all, well-managed, professional and meeting its program objectives.

The review was conducted by a three-person team appointed by STRONGER, Inc., a non-profit organization that conducts voluntary state reviews of oil and natural gas environmental regulations. The review team, appointed in July 2010, consisted of three members and four observers representing environmental groups, state regulators, the oil and gas industry and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Twenty three additional people attended the review.

“The review team found that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has a well-managed program,” said Lori Wrotenbery, who served as chairman of the review team. “In fact, we believe several aspects of the Department of Environmental Protection and its operations merit special recognition.”

The Pennsylvania hydraulic fracturing regulatory program was singled out for its operations in the areas of comprehensive water planning; baseline water sampling and water studies; Prevention, Preparedness and Contingency planning; waste identification, tracking and reporting; and increasing staffing levels.

The review team has also made recommendations to the Department of Environmental Protection baseline surveys, casing and cementing plans, availability of chemical information, notification of hydraulic fracturing operations, and pit construction.

The review team members, in addition to Chairman Lori Wrotenbery, Director of the Oil and Gas Conservation Division of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, were Wilma Subra, an environmental scientist from Louisiana, and Jim Collins, a petroleum engineer representing the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Dave Rectenwald of the U.S. EPA Office of Solid Waste, Brad Field, Director of the Division of Mineral Resources of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Steve Rhoads of East Resources, and Tom Au, Conservation Chair of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club participated as observers.

Copies of the Pennsylvania Hydraulic Fracturing Review are available by contacting Michael Nickolaus by email at, by phone at (405) 516-4972, or downloading from the STRONGER website at


The name, STRONGER, is an acronym for State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations. STRONGER was formed in 1999 to reinvigorate and carry forward the state review process begun cooperatively in 1988 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC).

The mission of STRONGER is to educate and provide services for the continuous improvement of regulatory programs and industry practices in order to enhance human health and the environment. STRONGER is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization which shares innovative techniques and environmental protection strategies and identifies opportunities for program improvement. The state review process is a non-regulatory program and relies on states to volunteer for reviews.

Notes to Editors:

  • The earliest drilling for petroleum in Pennsylvania occurred in 1859
  • Hydraulic fracturing has been a well completion practice since the 1950s
  • According to DEP there have been no instances of hydraulic fracturing affecting groundwater in Pennsylvania


Mike Nickolaus, 405-516-4972

Release Summary

Review of the Pennsylvania program regulating the hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells has been completed by a multi-stakeholder group.


Mike Nickolaus, 405-516-4972