Appealing for Permits

Below is a copy of a letter I received from one email list I belong to. It is a perfect example of what has been going on in my area. The gas companies move swiftly and because they know that if locals are informed of and given the choice, they will rebel against what is happening.  Therefore, these large companies with years of practice sweeping in over night and and jamming a foot in the door without having to deal with all the legalities and paperwork, are easily getting what they want.  A miss-informed, uneducated public. The few of us who are aware of how quickly this devastation is happening are struggling to get the word out and create a strong unified group of educated people who can work to prevent this kind of rushed and hap-hazard drilling.

Hi Folks:

“Wanted to let you know that, in last few days, I’ve been moving fast and furious on some E&S permits whose appeal period clocks were fast approaching midnight, and, thankfully, was able to beat that clock and file Notices of Appeal yesterday.  These appeals are challenges to the expedited permit review process.

On Friday afternoon of last week, I trekked up to Williamsport and reviewed 5 E&S control permits issued by DEP Northcentral Regional Office under the new “expedited permit review process.”  (Originally, Williamsport gave me a date of 8/26 for the file review, but I begged and pleaded and got the date moved up to last Friday so we’d have time to appeal the permits if warranted).  2 of these permits provided good fact senarios under which to challenge the permit process.  The trick was that the appeal periods on both of these permits ended yesterday (Monday, August 24).  So I went over the files carefully and drafted objections over the weekend, and CBF filed Notices of Appeals at the EHB yesterday.  Attached are the Notices of Appeals.

I am going back up to Williamsport tomorrow to look at 12 more files.  The appeal period for most of these permits expires September 8th, so there will be a little more time to assess these particular cases.  I’d be glad to update you all and talk further on what I find out following my file review tomorrow.

We will be issuing a press release announcing our appeals later in the week.

Here is a summary of each appeal:

The first is of a permit issued to Ultra Resources, Inc.  for earth disturbance activities in a 558 square mile project area known as the “Marshlands Play” in Tioga and Potter Counties .  The permit was issued 2 days after the application was received, without any technical review of plans.  It contains no stormwater calculations to analyze runoff rates or volume, and fails to address post construction stormwater entirely.  The erosion and sediment control plan and the application was prepared by a land surveyor, not an engineer.  Phase II, which authorizes earth disturbance activity to construct a gas pipeline, was issued in 7 business days after the application was received, again  without technical review.  It contemplates at least two stream crossings of High Quality trout streams.  The PA Bulletin Notice from which we are appealing is for this Phase II authorization.

The second is  of  a permit issued to Fortuna Energy, Inc. for earth disturbance activities associated with building a gas pipeline in a 40 square mile area in Tioga County .  Like the Ultra permit, this permit also did not undergo technical review, does not address post construction stormwater, and was prepared by the same land surveyor.   The Phase II authorization for this permit, which was issued 3 business days after the application was received, allows the pipeline to be constructed through wetlands that qualify as EV wetlands because they are adjacent to a tributary of a wild trout stream designated by the PA Fish and Boat Commission.  Impacts to EV wetlands cannot, as a matter of Pennsylvania wetlands law, be permitted for these kinds of projects. Nothing in the permit application identifies these wetlands as EV wetlands, and there is nothing in the file that indicates DEP treated them as EV wetlands.  This permit issuance shows what can happen when the Conservation Districts are cut out of the process and DEP staff are only conducting administrative review of plans—illegal encroachment into EV wetlands is authorized.”

Matt Royer

Pennsylvania Attorney

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

I’d also like to add this press release on this topic.

2 Responses

  1. Top notch Post.

    I want to thank you for the details.

  2. I don’t know If I said it already but …Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,)

    A definite great read..Tony Brown

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