- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania state environmental regulators are broadening an effort to collect public response to their proposal to toughen regulations over the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling industry.

The Department of Environmental Protection said Monday it will allow a 45-day public comment period, rather than 30 days, and schedule three public hearings.

The public comment period ends May 19, and two of the yet-to-be-scheduled public hearings will happen in northern Pennsylvania and one in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The department hopes its plan will become regulation in 2016.

Agency officials want more stringent reviews of proposed drilling sites that are within 100 feet of streams or wetlands, tougher requirements over noise and waste storage and more analysis of how each new well could affect drinking water sources, schools and playgrounds.

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