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Virginia group enters oil, gas pact with EPA

STAFF • Dec 21, 2018 at 8:30 PM

BIG STONE GAP — The federal Environmental Protection Agency  has forged a pact with a nonprofit organization in Virginia to work together to improve protections and outcomes in the state’s oil and gas regulatory programs.

The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals & Energy (DMME) was at the table with the EPA and the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER) late last month for the signing of a collaborative memorandum of understanding.

DMME Deputy Director Butch Lambert, who also serves as chairman of STRONGER’s board of directors, said having EPA collaboration when reviewing Virginia’s natural gas programs “will be instrumental in not only ensuring the best for the environment, but will also result in direct assistance for programs as they work to improve compliance.”

Lambert said STRONGER’s goal “is to always improve our oil and gas programs across this nation, and this is a significant step in continuing that mission.”

STRONGER is a nonprofit, multi-stakeholder and educational organization. The group reviewed Virginia’s natural gas program in 2004 and conducted a follow-up review in 2016. The state responded to recommendations in 2017 that strive to provide an improved program for the environment and economy of Southwest Virginia.

Areas of collaboration between STRONGER and the EPA could include stakeholder engagement, identifying emerging issues that could affect state programs or developing tools to help ensure regulations are followed.

The pact is also designed to improve communication on responsible production of oil and natural gas resources in Virginia.

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