Regulations? What Regulations?

This is a such a bunch of bulls*@t! I cannot believe for one minute that these companies don’t have the means or the abilities to find out what the state regulations in PA are for drilling and maintaining their well pads! If they don’t know, then they need to find out BEFORE THEY DRILL! Don’t try to tell me they didn’t know there were some sort of regulations. It’s not like this is a new industry (like Rendell and a lot of other shoddy politicians want us to believe). These guys have been doing this for years now and they know better than to assume they can do whatever they want and tear up whatever they need without the right permits and paper work, but they are doing it that way and getting away with a lot of it! Sure, we fine them after we find out they went beyond the 5 acres, etcetera. In the meantime they have destroyed an area that will take years to recover and become a field or forest again. But hey, it’s all worth it for the short-sightedness of greed and what we can have right now!

CLEARFIELD – Marcellus Shale wells are not a dead issue in Clearfield County.
At Monday’s Conservation District meeting, Conservation Technician Fred Berry said there has been an increase in gas well drilling activity. He said some of the companies are from Texas, Utah and Louisiana and are not familiar with state and federal regulations.
Berry said he has been working to get these companies into voluntary compliance. He said some of these operations have more than five acres total of land disturbance. According to the state regulations, any operation which disturbs five or more acres of land must have an erosion and sedimentation control plan.
This total acreage of disturbance includes pipelines, well pads, and access roads. Berry said there were other regulations in place, such as setbacks for well pads and access roads from wetlands and streams.
Berry said there was at least one company operating in the county which is under a stop order issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection. He said this company was issued the order for storing potentially contaminated fill materials and encroaching on wetlands.
Berry said on a more positive note, the county is seeing several spin-off jobs which have resulted from the gas well drilling. He said one local company has been supplying pipe line materials, while another has been providing tanks to store the “frac water,” which is a brine and chemical mixture. The mixture is forced into the drill site and is used to fracture or “frac” the layers of shale that is trapping the deposits of natural gas. The gas escapes through the cracks in the rock and is collected in the pipelines. The Marcellus Shale wells are constructed using both vertical and horizontal drilling practices.
According to previously-published Courier-Express articles, once the water has been used, the gas companies recover between 20-80 percent of the frac water which must be taken to specialized water-treatment plants. The frac water cannot be treated in a typical water-treatment plant. A lack of frac water treatment plants as well as a drop in natural gas prices put a temporary hold on the predicted “boom” of Marcellus Shale gas wells.
Berry said as the well activity increases, the conservation district will continue to work to make sure the drilling companies are brought into voluntary compliance.
“Our door is always open and they (gas companies) can always call us with questions,” Berry said. “We would rather work with the companies before there’s a violation, rather than after an encroachment or an erosion problem occurs.”
However, permitting and on-site inspection of the wells falls under the jurisdiction of the DEP.
“It’s scary because the state took it (the permitting) from the districts and gave it to DEP. Then DEP took all those cuts (in the state budget),” Board member and County Commissioner Joan Robinson-McMillen said.
Residents and hunters are urged to contact DEP if they notice any gas wells that appear to be in violation.
Also at the meeting, the district voted to approve an additional donation of $100 to the state Envirothon and the management summit contract.

Reported by Kimberly Finnigan, staff writer, E-mail: kfinnigan@thecourierexpress.com

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