Welcome to the Pennsylvania Citizens’ Toolkit Resources.

With the ever expanding oil and gas operations in our region, citizens, advocacy groups, and elected officials seem to have more questions than answers.  And, because so much of this industrial development is new to most communities, finding facts on the operations and the permitting approval processes can seem daunting.  In an effort to help educate, inform, and guide citizens through the basic components of the process, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) is developing a Citizens’ Toolkit.  This informational toolkit provides descriptions of key portions the public notification and participation requirements, as well as fact sheets and example templates, so that citizens and decision makers can better prepare themselves.

EIP continues to add educational resources into our Citizens’ Toolkit.  Currently included in the toolkit are the following sections:

  • Act 14 Municipal Notification Letter Tool: important notifications that signal oil and gas development may be coming to your community
    • What the letters are – how they are received – timelines associated with them
    • How to ensure local government officials and citizens understand the importance of these notification letters
    • Template language local officials can use to open lines of communication with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP)
  • PA Right to Know Law tool:
    • Public access to documents submitted by oil and gas companies
    • How to submit a Right to Know request (local, county, and state)
    • What records are considered “public”
    • What to do if citizens have questions or concerns
  • How to Write a Letter to the Editor
  • How to Document and Report a Problem

Soon to be added are the following:

  • Public Meetings/Public Hearings tool:
    • The rules for each
    • Instructions on how best to participate
    • Some important things to listen and watch for as concerned citizens
    • How and when to present comments on the record
    • Some example template language as guidance
  • PA Sunshine Law tool:
    • What it means for public notification, public meetings, and public participation
    • What it means for citizens’ rights to attend, participate, and record meetings
    • What it means for public officials and how governmental procedures are to be conducted
  • The PA Municipal Planning Code tool:
    • What it is – how it affects local government’s procedures
    • Some key provisions that could be helpful to citizens and advocacy groups

The Citizens’ Toolkit is the start of important resources, designed to help level the playing field for those hoping to become engaged in the application, review, and permitting processes for the oil and gas operations.

EIP will update the tools and resources, as warranted.

It is our hope these tools will provide some clarity and a roadmap, of sorts, in an effort to ensure more public transparency, fact-checking and participation.

 We look forward to working with you as, together, we seek accountability and transparency.    

Companies applying for permit approval from the state must send letters to the host municipality announcing plans to submit an application to PA DEP for permitting operations.  The following letters give you an idea of what you may find in the letters and also include tips on what to look for.

PA Right to Know Law Tool

Facts matter – so there is power in public files. Having access to actual company documents, reports, and correspondence with the overseeing regulatory agency is an important way to level the playing field. Company documents will reveal specific details about the proposed operation and its location, as well as provide key pieces of information about pollution sources and other factual details. Submitting comments, preparing testimony, or participating in open Question and Answer sessions can be made much stronger when facts from actual company documents can be called into question.

For more information about accessing public documents: “Facts Do Matter – The Power of Public Files

How to Write a Letter to the Editor

Your opinion matters and you should consider voicing your concerns publicly. Writing a Letter to the
Editor at your local or regional newspaper provides an outlet for elected officials, regulators, and the public to consider important, personal viewpoints on proposed projects, existing operations, and proposed expansions of facilities in your community, in the region, and throughout the state.
See more details: “How to Write a Letter to the Editor

How to Document and Report a Problem 

You are the eyes and ears of the community.  What you see, hear, smell, and feel is important.

If you see something that might indicate an emergency – like a spill of fluids in or around your property, a strong chemical smell, or a flaring event – it is important to report those incidents to the appropriate agency.

For more information: “How to Document and Report Problems

Questions or Comments

If you have questions about the resources above, the permitting process, or just want to share your own insight or stories, please contact us through the form below.