CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State regulators are behind schedule on the release of two key studies mandated as part of the legislation that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin touted as a "milestone" in addressing concerns about the boom in natural gas drilling in Marcellus Shale regions of West Virginia.
In the bill, lawmakers ordered the state Department of Environmental Protection to conduct studies of noise, light and dust from drilling operations, air pollution from well sites, and the use of wastewater impoundments by the oil and gas industry.
The study on noise, light and dust was to be provided to the Legislature by Dec. 31, 2012, and the study on wastewater impoundments by Jan. 1, 2013. Neither report has been finalized and given to lawmakers, officials confirmed this week.
DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said work on the impoundment study is complete but that there were problems with the formatting of a report prepared for the DEP by researchers at West Virginia University.
"We don't have it in a complete document that I feel comfortable turning in," Huffman said Tuesday.
Huffman added that WVU researchers included some recommendations about the handling of wastewater used in gas drilling that went beyond what they were technically asked to do, and the DEP wanted to remove those portions before submitting the report to lawmakers.
"There's nothing wrong with them making those kinds of recommendations, but that's not what was asked for," Huffman said.