PennFuture files federal lawsuit against Marcellus Shale driller Ultra Resources, Inc. for violations of federal and state air pollution laws

Harrisburg, PA (July 21, 2011) – Citizens for Pennsylvania‟s Future (PennFuture) filed a lawsuit today in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against Ultra Resources, Inc., for air pollution at its Marcellus Shale drilling sites, which violates the federal Clean Air Act, Pennsylvania‟s State Implementation Plan (the “Pennsylvania SIP”), and Pennsylvania‟s New Source Review regulations. PennFuture also filed a formal request with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for all records of air pollution at drilling sites throughout the Commonwealth.
“Ultra‟s drilling operations in Tioga and Potter counties are emitting dangerous and illegal air pollution and operating without the required permits,” said Jan Jarrett, president and CEO of PennFuture. “Unless gas drillers operating in Pennsylvania control the air pollution from their operations, air quality will deteriorate, putting public health at risk.

“The noxious air pollution is widespread in the two county area of the Marshlands Play,” continued Jarrett. “The operations include natural gas wells, pipelines, compressor stations, and other equipment, all of which are connected by pipeline to a Metering and Regulation Station, also constructed and operated by Ultra, where the gas produced at Ultra’s wells is adjusted for pressure, measured, and delivered to an interstate pipeline. Ultra constructed the operations without the necessary permits – specifically a permit required by Pennsylvania’s New Source Review (NSR) regulations, and without achieving the lowest achievable emissions rate or purchasing emissions reductions credits. The company is emitting large amounts of nitrogen oxides (NOx) into the air, creating serious health risks for anyone living downwind from the operations.

“The laws were passed for a reason – to protect the health of our families,” continued Jarrett. “According to the United States EPA, even short-term NOx exposures, ranging from 30 minutes to 24 hours, cause adverse respiratory effects including airway inflammation in healthy people and increased respiratory symptoms in people with asthma. And this air pollution also leads to more fine particle pollution, which can cause heart attacks and other deadly illnesses.

“But this appears to be business as usual for many drillers,” continued Jarrett. “A study out of Fort Worth (TX) recently showed that the NOx pollution just from the average compressor engine there is about 60 tons per year. And with drilling going like gangbusters here in Pennsylvania, that same kind of pollution from all the operations would create serious public health problems, and destroy any ability of Pennsylvania to meet air quality standards. We’ve also seen the formerly pristine air in Wyoming now more dangerous than that in Los Angeles, thanks to massive drilling. We need to stop this problem here and now.“We are also asking DEP to open the books on its assessment of air pollution at other drilling operations throughout the Commonwealth,” said Jarrett. “We cannot and will not allow the drillers to operate without meeting our clean air rules.”
Copies of the PennFuture court filing and Right to Know request may be downloaded at www.pennfuture.org
To read a copy of the Right to Know Request, click here:

DEP Makes Oil and Gas Operations More Transparent

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

11/1/2010

CONTACT:
Jamie Legenos, Department of Environmental Protection
717-787-1323
 
DEP Makes Oil and Gas Operations More Transparent with New Online Resources

Information on Well Production, Waste Products, and Violations Now Online

HARRISBURG — For the first time, Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry production and compliance information is available online as part of the commonwealth’s ongoing effort to make the industry’s operations more transparent.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said the oil and gas public reporting website, which debuted today, allows access to production statistics for oil and gas wells in the state, including historical data. A new, separate webpage also lets users view violation data, by operator, as well as the department’s enforcement measures.

“The public reporting website will create much needed transparency that allows for citizens and policymakers to be aware of the increasing amount of natural gas being generated in Pennsylvania,” said Hanger. “This is an industrial activity that is taking place widely throughout the state. It’s important that families know what is happening in their backyards and whether or not the company drilling there has a good track record of safe and environmentally sound operations.”

The public reporting website, www.marcellusreporting.state.pa.us/ogrereports/, enables users to search all oil and natural gas production data by operator, county or a specific well number. Information on industry-generated waste can be viewed by operator, county or processing facility.

Act 15 of 2010 required Marcellus operators to report to DEP their well production totals from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 by Aug. 15. Subsequent reports on Marcellus production are due every six months. All other oil and gas production besides Marcellus wells must be reported annually.

“It is absolutely essential for the oil and gas industry to be excellent in their operations to protect public health and our environment,” Hanger said. “This information will allow the public to see which operators are leading the way in a safe and environmentally conscious manner and which ones need to address their operating procedures.”

The violation, inspection, and enforcement information is available for 2008 through 2010 to date, including resolved violations for the three-year span. Information for 2010 is available year-to-date or monthly. To view the violation reports, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us and click on the button that says “Gas Well Violations.”

For more information about oil and gas operations in Pennsylvania, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us and click on “Oil and Gas.”
 

“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

Map of wells drilling in PA in 2009

Here is a link to a map of gas wells drilled in PA in 2009. This map is available at DEP’s wensite along witha couple of other maps about the Marcellus Shale in PA.

http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/minres/oilgas/photogallery/photo13295/2009%20%20Wells%20Drilled.jpg

Here’s a link to DEP’s page withh all the maps:

http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/minres/oilgas/PermitDrilledmaps.htm