Marcellus Shale Drillers in Pennsylvania Amass 1435 Violations in 2.5 Years

952 Identified as Most Likely to Harm the Environment

The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association has reviewed environmental violations accrued by Marcellus Shale drillers working in Pennsylvania between January 2008 and June 25, 2010.  The records were obtained via a Right to Know Request made to the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). 

DEP records show a total of 1435 violations of state Oil and Gas Laws due to gas drilling or other earth disturbance activities related to natural gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale in this 2.5-year period.  The Association identified 952 violations as having or likely to have an impact on the environment.  483 were identified as likely being an administrative or safety violation and not likely to have the potential to negatively impact the environment.

The report breaks the violations down by type. For example, of the 952 violations:

  • 268 involve improper construction of waste water impoundments
  • 10 involve improper well casing
  • 154 involve discharge of industrial waste
  • 16 involve improper blowout prevention

The report lists the 25 companies with the most violations as well as the 25 companies with the highest average number of violations per well driller.

View the entire report at conserveland.org/violationsrpt.

House Bill 2235

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The Pennsylvania House of Representatives will consider Rep. Vitali’s House Bill 2235 this week. The bill would place a 5-year moratorium on new leases of State Forest to natural gas drillers.  The five years would give DCNR time to study the impacts current drilling leases will have on the environmental, economic and recreational values of our State Forests.  After the moratorium ends, the bill would allow DCNR to lease further lands only if DCNR determines that such leases can be done without threatening water and air quality, habitat, ecosystems, recreational, social and asthetic values of the forests.

Call your PA Representative and ask them to
1. support the moratorium bill, and
2. vote against weakening amendments.

Find your representative’s contact information.  Just use box labeled “Find Members By” in the upper-right hand corner…

Background:

One third of our state forests are already open to natural gas drilling.  Without careful scientific study and planning, we can’t know what additional drilling, if any, can occur without harming our publicly owned forest’s environmental, economic and recreational values.  Our state forests are one of our greatest public assets, protecting our highest quality streams, providing public recreation, supporting tourism, and providing a sustainable timber supply.  As such, we should exercise balance and restraint when considering making additional lands available for drilling.

Several amendments have been filed which seek to weaken the moratorium proposal, mainly by shortening the moratorium to 1 year.  The moratorium needs to be 5 years to yield enough data to meaningfully understand the cumulative effects of drilling in our State Forests.  To date, there are only 9 Marcellus wells in production in State Forests; however, 2000 more are expected to be drilled in the next 5 years.

No private lands will be affected by the moratorium nor will any State Forest land already leased.

The moratorium would take effect after the additional leasing of state forests already planned by Governor Rendell for the 2010-2011 budget (which is expected to yield $112 million).

For more information, please call 717-230-8560.