State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations, Inc. (STRONGER), a national, multi-stakeholder organization that provides evaluation and consultation services to state oil and gas environmental regulatory programs, has published its report of the Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy (DMME) Division of Gas and Oil (DGO) and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Air Division review.
The 2016 review was a follow-up to Virginia’s initial review, conducted in 2003. The 2016 review evaluated the DGO’s response to recommendations from the 2003 review as well as its management of other issues such as hydraulic fracturing that were not evaluated during the 2003 review. The Virginia DEQ Air Division participated in the air quality portion of the review.
In August 2016 a three-person STRONGER review team representing state, environment, and industry stakeholders comprised of Scott Perry, Pennsylvania DEP; Bruce Baizel, Earthworks; and Gus Janson, EnerVest; traveled to Abingdon, VA to conduct the in-state interview portion of the review with DMME and DEQ staff. Official observers representing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local government in the Tidewater region were also present. The report notes several strengths of the DMME and DEQ programs, provides recommendations for continuous improvement.
STRONGER commends the DMME for volunteering for a thorough follow-up review, as well as for the actions taken in response to recommendations from the 2003 review. The DMME is also commended for proactively seeking evaluation of the DGO’s program in the context of possible future development in the Tidewater region of the Commonwealth.