In His First 100 Days, Tom Wolf’s DEP Is On Pace for Nearly 700 Fracking Permits

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s Department of Environmental Protection is approaching its 100th day and as of April 23rd, has issued 631 fracking permits. With a week remaining, it’s likely the Wolf DEP will get very close or exceed 700 permits. There have been 66 business days in that time, which means the Wolf DEP is issuing 9.6 permits per business day, or one permit every 50 minutes. (View All Wolf Permits)

There are 1,004 business days in Wolf’s first term and at this rate, the Wolf DEP will issue 9,598 fracking permits.

To put this in perspective, according to the DEP’s Spud Report, there are only 9,111 wells drilled as of April 27th, which means, if drillers get to work drilling all of the Wolf DEP permits, the amount of fracking and related infrastructure will double.

Of course, we know that drilling permits last two years and expire if no work is performed. Since April 28, 2013, there were 5,992 issued permits, but only 2,505 wells were drilled, leaving 3,487 undrilled permits during that time period. Assuming that most recent rate of development, 58 percent, we can project that if all variables remain the same, the Wolf administration will add 5,567 drilled wells to Pennsylvania’s total.

Wolf’s predecessor, Tom Corbett, issued 12,261 fracking permits, however the price of methane was higher on average during the Corbett administration, which catalyzed the drillers to apply for more permits. In January 2010 the Henry Hub price of methane was $5.83 mBtu and it was $2.99 mBtu in January 2015, about a 50 percent drop, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The hopes that many Pennsylvanians had that Wolf would be different on the fracking issue is fading as fast as the DEP’s rubber stamp.