Drillers admit dumping water in national forest

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Associated Press

Two men from a Kansas oil-drilling firm pleaded guilty today to illegally dumping 200,000 gallons of brine water down an abandoned well in Pennsylvania’s only national forest. The pollution by Swamp Angel LLC in the Allegheny National Forest could contaminate groundwater and streams, but authorities have not linked any water damage conclusively to the pollution, acting U.S. Attorney Robert Cessar said….


To read the full story, click here:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10047/1036263-100.stm

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“Green Dogs” take up with the “Hunt Dogs”

Lawmakers line up against governor’s forest leasing plan
Monday, February 22, 2010
By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A caucus of 37 “green dog” and “hunting dog” legislators is barking mad about a Rendell administration budget proposal that would seek to raise $180 million by leasing more state forest land for Marcellus shale gas well drilling…. In a Feb. 3 letter to the governor, the legislators called for a moratorium on state forest land leasing until the “long-term environmental, fiscal, economic and social impacts” are studied and reviewed and requested a meeting with the governor on the issue….

To read the full article. click here:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10053/1037700-454.stm

And to add to the mess…compressor stations!

Besides the environmental and public health and safety issues associated with gas drilling sites, pipelines, wastewater treatment and disposal, the public needs to pay attention to compressor stations set up for transport of natural gas from drilling sites to markets. See below for two recent reports from Philly IMC related to compressor stations.

http://www.phillyimc.org/en/natural-gas-compressor-station-coats-farmland-used-gear-oil

Floodplain well permit violation

Muncy Creek floodplain, north of Tivoli, flooded on January 25th.

By February 21st,  XTO had a well in full operation.

Last spring, under pressure from the gas industry to speed up the permitting process, DEP took the permitting for land disturbance and run off away from the county conservation districts.  It is quite doubtful if the county’s conservation district would have permitted this site.

Although DEP took over this function they didn’t have the man power to actually do it. To compensate, any disturbance less than 5 acres can receive a permit, sight unseen, by the developer submitting plans from their own engineers.  Most well pads are less than 5 acres.

When this well is fracked, 18,000 to 20,000 gallons of toxic concentrated chemicals, (hydrochloric acid, biocides, petroleum distillates, methanol, a variety of alcohols, ethylene glycol and much more) will be brought on to this floodplain and mixed. Any spillage will end up in the creek.  Do spills happen? Ask the 17 cows in Louisiana who died horribly last spring after drinking chemicals that spilled into their pasture from an adjacent well.

Below is an excerpt from a joint letter from Trout Unlimited and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation decrying the situation.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Trout Unlimited

Call for Ban on Marcellus Gas Wells in Floodplains

Hydrofracking in floodplains is an environmental disaster waiting to happen

(HARRISBURG, PA)  —  In the rush to develop the Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania, natural gas wells are being permitted and drilled in floodplains. Two such wells, one operated by Stone Energy along Wyalusing Creek in Rush Township, Susquehanna County, and one operated by XTO along Muncy Creek in Shrewsbury Township, Lycoming County already experienced flooding events.  The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and Trout Unlimited (TU) call upon the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to remedy this clear environmental and public health hazard.

“The handling of fracking chemicals and highly contaminated drilling wastewater in floodplains is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.  It has to stop,” said Matt Ehrhart, executive director of CBF’s Pennsylvania Office.  “Permitting well pads in floodplains causes a very serious threat of pollution.  We call upon DEP to use its authority under the Clean Streams Law to order the companies operating these wells to permanently cap and abandon them, and then reclaim the sites to their natural condition.” (excerpt RDA)

http://www.cbf.org/Page.aspx?pid=1651

New gas drilling website for North Central PA

Here is a link to a great new site that is keeping tabs on most everything going on in North Central PA in regards to the gas drilling. Definitely add this one to your bookmarks.

http://northcentralpa.com/category/category/gas-drilling

Energy & Commerce Committee Investigates Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing

Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey today sent letters to eight oil and gas companies that use hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and natural gas from unconventional sources in the United States. The Committee is requesting information on the chemicals used in fracturing fluids and the potential impact of the practice on the environment and human health….

To read the full article, click here.

http://energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1896:energy-a-commerce-committee-investigates-potential-impacts-of-hydraulic-fracturing&catid=122:media-advisories&Itemid=55

Pipelines are next

There are so many different aspects of the gas and oil industry. At first we worried about the visual issues surrounding the gas drilling. Later we realized that our water and air qualities were at stake and that issue still takes a precedence today. As the production of natural gas progresses in this area we will see some new stages erupting this summer and with them new concerns. Things we have not yet considered because we are still investing all our time and energy into the water battle and some things that we will not know about until they start to happen. The nature of this industry seems to be in secrecy and quick movements, like a tiger, (isn’t that Exxon’s logo?) that make it difficult to see what’s coming head on, like a run away truck on a dark, rainy night.

One thing that has come up in the last months for me has been the pipeline infrastructure.  Did we know drilling for gas entailed pipelines? Sure we did, but I at least did not consider the full effect of this single aspect of natural gas drilling. Here are some links to informative sites and articles that are discussing this topic.

http://rnrext.cas.psu.edu/PDFs/FLWinter2009.pdf

The above link offers some good explanations of pipelines, how and what they are used for and what sort of effects they can have on PA forests.

The fifth story down this page gives some idea as to when this stage may begin and what we might see, at least for Potter County, PA.

http://today.pottercountypa.net/