The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP ) has issued an emergency rule (35 CSR 8) that would temporarily require Marcellus shale natural gas drillers to obtain permits and develop plans to protect water quality. The rule, based on an executive order issued in July 2011 by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D), will remain in effect 15 months from the date of its approval by the secretary of state, who signed the emergency rule August 29.

The rule requires well operators wanting to extract natural gas from West Virginia shale to provide plans on erosion control, site construction and safety and, in some cases, water management. It also includes record-keeping obligations concerning flowback water from hydraulic fracturing, as well as requirements for disposal of drill cuttings and drilling mud, and casing and cementing standards to prevent gas and other fluids from migrating into fresh water and coal seams. State legislators will reportedly seek to enact more comprehensive and permanent rules while the temporary rule is in place. See The (Charleston) Herald-Dispatch, August 22, 2011.