Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection is now putting more shale gas data online in a publicly accessible format (dep.pa.gov). It includes GIS information on well sites, waste reports, and charts outlining trends over the past ten years. DEP has faced criticism in the past for not providing accessible, current information on well sites.
The new web resource confirms a rebound in shale gas drilling around Potter County that began last year. Since January 2016, some 21 new "unconventional" wells have been drilled in the county and there are more coming.
The change is part of a broader push from DEP to upgrade its technological capabilities. Earlier this year, the agency's oil and gas inspectors received iPads, after years using paper and clipboards.
The department also reports that its inspections are on the rise. For both conventional (shallow, non-shale) gas wells, and unconventional shale wells, DEP inspectors made 35,556 visits in 2016, more than double the number of inspections conducted in 2010.
Environmental violations resulted in record fines for 2016, totaling $9,688,573. The majority of those penalties resulted from nine significant incidents.
The number of violations cited by DEP to shale gas drillers had been trending downward with a slight uptick in 2016. Meanwhile, conventional wells have seen a significant increase in sanctions, with 1,834 last year, up from 1,024 in 2015.