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:

Senator Casey Introduces Three Natural Gas Bills

The following is a press release from Senator Robert Casey regarding three bills he has reintroduced.

(1) S1215: Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act (aka: The Frac Act)

(2) S S3964: Faster Action Safety Team Emergency Response Act (aka: FASTER)

(3) S3720: Marcellus Shale On-the-Job Training Act of 2010

Senator Casey’s release describes these bills. However, if you want to read the bills themselves, click here and type in the bill number or name in the appropriate location, or scroll through the list of legislators to find the person sponsoring the bill: http://thomas.gov/

NOTE: newly introduced bills may not be posted immediately. At the time I received this information the three bills described in this release are not yet on this site.

Majority of Marcellus Well Operators Fail to Meet Production Reporting Deadline

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=13825&typeid=1

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

08/27/2010

CONTACT:
Helen Humphreys, Department of Environmental Protection
717-787-1323
Majority of Marcellus Well Operators Fail to Meet Production Reporting Deadline

DEP Sending Violators Notices Additional Enforcement Actions May Follow

HARRISBURG — More than half of the natural gas drillers operating in the Marcellus Shale missed the deadline to report the production levels of their wells in violation of state law, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

DEP Secretary John Hanger said today that 41 of the 74 oil and gas companies operating in the Marcellus Shale, or 55 percent, failed to submit reports on the past 12 months of production by the Aug. 15 deadline.

“When the General Assembly approved this law and the Governor signed it, they did so because they believed this requirement provided much-needed transparency into the industry’s operations,” said Hanger. “The fact that so many companies failed to meet the deadline for providing this information is troubling. We plan to follow-up with each non-compliant firm and pursue whatever enforcement action is necessary to get them to follow the law.”

The public can track a Marcellus operator’s compliance with Act 15 production reporting requirements online at http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/minres/oilgas/OGRE_production/Marcellus_Report_Submissions_8-26-10.xls. The site includes a complete list of operators that did not submit production reports by Aug. 15. The list will be updated on a weekly basis as production report submissions are made. The list of the Marcellus operators that submitted production reports on time is also provided.

The new law, Act 15 of 2010, required gas companies drilling into the Marcellus formation to report production totals from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 by Aug. 15. Subsequent to this deadline, companies will be required to report production every six months, making the next report due Feb. 15.

Prior to Act 15, DEP was required by law to keep production reporting data confidential for five years.

For more information or to view the production reports of companies that met the deadline, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us.

Media contact: Helen Humphreys, 717-787-1323
Editor’s Note: A list of companies that failed to meet the Aug. 15, reporting deadline follows. Those with asterisks submitted after the deadline:

Alpha Shale Res LP
Alta Operation Co. LLP
American Oil & Gas LLC
Atlas Resources LLC
Anschutz Exploration Corp.
*Blx Inc.
Burnett Oil Co. Inc.
*Carrizo (Marcellus) LLC
*Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc.
Consol Pa Coal Co.
*D. E. LTD Family Partnership
Dominion Exploration and Production Inc.
East Resources Inc.
East Resources Management
*Encana Oil & Gas USA Inc.
Enervest Operating LLC
Flatirons Development LLC
Hess Corp.
Interstate Gas Marketing Inc.
Jr Resources LP
M & M Royalty LTD
*MDS Energy LTD
Mieka LLC
Mountain V Oil & Gas Inc.
Newfield Appalachia Pa LLC
Novus Operating LLC
Penn Virginia Oil & Gas Corp.
Petro Dev Corp.
Rex Energy Operating Corp.
Rice Drilling B LLC
*Seneca Resources Corp.
Schrader Kevin E
Snee & Eberly & People Natural Gas
SM Energy Co.
Special JHR Corp.
*Talisman Energy USA Inc.
Tanglewood Exploration LLC
Triana Energy LLC
Turm Oil Inc.
*Ultra Resources Inc.
US Energy Exploration Corp.
A list of companies that submitted the production report on-time follows:

AB Resources Pa. LLC
Anadarko E&P Co. LP
Antero Resources Appalachian Corp.
Baker Gas Inc.
Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.
Chesapeake Appalachia LLC
Chief Oil & Gas LLC
Citrus Energy Corp.
CNX Gas Co. LLC
Consol Gas Co.
DL Resources Inc.
Energy Corp. of  Amer.
EOG Resources Inc.
EQT Production Co.
Exco. Resources Pa. Inc.
Great Oak Energy Inc.
Guardian Exploration Inc.
J W Operating Co.
Longfellow Energy LP
Marathon Oil Co.
Pa. Gen Energy Co. LLC
Phillips Exploration Inc.
Range Resources Appalachia LLC
Samson Res. Co.
Snyder Bros. Inc.
Southwestern Energy Prod. Co.
Stone Energy Corp.
Texas Keystone Inc.
Vista Opr. Inc.
William McIntire Coal Oil & Gas
William S. Burkland
Williams Production Appalachia  LLC
XTO Energy Inc.

Seeing Gas Drilling’s Ugly Side Firsthand

The following is a blog – a personal perspective –  on visiting Dimock, PA and seeing for the first time gas drilling’s impact on that area. After taking the last couple of weekends to travel around PA to see this sort of thing for myself I know how scary and powerful it can be. This blog is well done and I wanted to share it with all of you. Thanks for the link Anne!

Visiting Dimock, Seeing Gas Drilling’s Ugly Side Firsthand

Kate Sinding
Senior Attorney, New York City
Posted April 15, 2010 in Curbing Pollution

Like so many who have been following controversial gas drilling issues in the Northeast’s Marcellus Shale region (the geological formation that stretches from West Virginia to upstate New York), I have been hearing and reading about, and seeing images of, Dimock, PA for the past roughly year-and-a-half.  For those not in the know, Dimock has become the unfortunate poster child for all that can go wrong when industrial gas drilling in the Marcellus isn’t adequately regulated and companies make mistakes.  Residents have experienced the wide array of adverse effects associated with shale gas production – many of them, it should be noted, inherent in the activity even under the best of circumstances. These impacts include: exploding water wells, contaminated water supplies necessitating daily fresh water deliveries (complete with home invasion in order to accept the regular deliveries), rural landscapes utterly transformed into industrial zones, constant diesel fumes, 24-hour-a-day traffic and noise that literally shakes the walls of homes.

I finally had the opportunity to visit Dimock in person earlier this week.  This is the first of a series of posts that I’ll file giving some of my impressions.  I’m doing this not because I have something new or unique to offer, but because the experience so affected me.  And the people who invited me into their homes deserve to have their stories told. I have been working on the Marcellus Shale gas drilling issue for about two-and-a-half years, but as much as I have read, listened to stories, seen photos and video footage and talked about the potential adverse impacts, nothing can compare to seeing, hearing and smelling them live….

Only when you’re standing in the front yard of someone’s dream home – which was once surrounded only by their residential neighbors and farms – and see, hear, smell and feel the vibrations of the incessant truck traffic that passes at all hours of the day and night can you truly understand how transformative it is when gas production arrives in a community.  Only when you hear the constant industrial noise from every direction as new well pads are cleared, well bores drilled and then fracked – noise that likewise exists around the clock – can you comprehend how those whose lives have already been turned upside down by drilling gone wrong can never escape the constant auditory reminders.  And only when you stand in the backyard of a family who moved to the beautiful Dimock countryside after their last home burned to the ground and see the well pads to both their immediate left and right does it become clear that – even if everything had gone “right” – this family now lives in an industrial zone….

Visiting  Dimock, Seeing Gas Drilling’s Ugly Side Firsthand

To read the full blog, see photos and read others’ reactions to the blog, click here:

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/ksinding/visiting_dimock_seeing_gas_dri.html