Friday, November 2, 2012

PA Marcellus News Digest 11/2/12

PA Marcellus News Digest
November 2, 2012


DEP Publishes Final Permit "Improvement" Policies
DEP Newsroom
Nov 2
HARRISBURG -- The Department of Environmental Protection announced today it has finalized its Permit Review Process and Permit Decision Guarantee and Permit Coordination policies. The agency submitted the final versions of the policies, as well as accompanying comment-and-response documents for each policy, for publication in the Nov. 3 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.


DEP water reports under new scrutiny
Beaver Co. Times
Rachel Morgan
Nov 1
Testimony by a high-ranking state Department of Environmental Protection official reveals the agency may have intentionally left out part of the results of water testing in relation to Marcellus shale drilling.

DEP Employee Says Agency Withholds Water Contamination Information from Residents
NPR State Impact
Susan Phillips
Nov 2

Lawmaker challenges Pennsylvania DEP's reporting of gas well water safety
Don Hopey
Nov 2
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection produces incomplete lab reports and uses them to dismiss complaints that Marcellus Shale gas development operations have contaminated residential water supplies and made people sick, according to court documents.

No more half-truths
Kimberly Jones
Letter to the Editor
Nov 2
The coal industry wants us to believe there is a war on coal and that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama administration are not our friends.

Lawsuit raises questions over DEP’s testing of water for drilling contaminants
Pitt Trib
Bill Vidonic
Nov 1
A Washington County lawsuit alleging that gas driller Range Resources contaminated three families’ drinking water has raised questions about whether the Department of Environmental Protection is releasing incomplete test results, a state representative and attorney said Thursday.

Out of the Comfort Zone: A wary response for proposed gas-drilling rules
"Nothing [in the bill] at this time says, ‘We're putting this in place of the ban'"
Pittsburgh City Paper
Chris Potter
Oct 10
When Patrick Dowd offered new legislation to govern natural-gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale at a Sept. 20 press conference, he stood alone. There were no drilling-company representatives behind him, no environmentalists anywhere. And that, if nothing else, suggests how fractious the debate over gas "fracking" has become.

Sandy could have compromised waste pits, enviros warn
Nov 2
(full text below)
As Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast this week, environmental groups warned that the storm could overwhelm weak storage pits located alongside hydraulic fracturing sites.

The disruption of those pits could lead to unintended releases of toxic materials into streams and farmland in drilling states affected by Sandy, the groups said.

Industry officials said they took steps before the storm to keep the waste quarantined and disputed accusations that they cut corners in securing the waste.

"The test will be the evaluation post-storm to see, 'Are there any new major problems that can be traced back to this storm?'" said Brook Lenker, executive director of FracTracker Alliance, a group that collects data on hydraulic fracturing.

Fracking, as the controversial extraction process is known, involves the injection of millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into underground shale formations to release trapped oil and natural gas. Some of that fluid flows back to the surface and is often stored nearby, along with other liquids used in the fracturing process.

When those containments fail, it can result in the release of poisonous chemicals. Environmental groups say the heavy rains and winds that accompanied Sandy could have led to the breakdown of those barriers. Some have said a better alternative would be to store all fluids in closed tanks, as opposed to open-air pools.

"There's a lot of chemical or toxic waste stored on the site that could run off into a stream, river, farmland or other vulnerable area if there isn't sufficient spill prevention or containment in place," said Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

She pointed to a recent Government Accountability Office report that found all but 15 of a total 120 oil and gas well sites out of compliance for spill prevention.

Oil and gas companies said they were more than prepared for the storm.

"Our operators have in place exhaustive contingency plans related to severe weather conditions," said Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a gas industry lobbying group, in a statement. "The safety of our workers and communities is paramount at this point in time as our attention is focused on the environmental, health and safety protections associated with our industry operations and the communities we call home" (Bob Downing, Scripps Howard News Service/Akron Beacon Journal, Oct. 31). -- PK

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