Thursday, August 5, 2021

Marcellus Shale Coalition: FracTracker Alliance Article On Lycoming Creek Watershed Misleading, Or Simply Wrong

The following was submitted by Dave Callahan, President of the
Marcellus Shale Coalition, responding to a FracTracker Alliance article on the impacts of unconventional natural gas drilling in the Lycoming Creek Watershed.


A recent article by the FracTracker Alliance claims to have cataloged the impacts of unconventional natural gas development in the Lycoming Creek watershed, located in Northcentral Pennsylvania, over the past twelve years. 

The Lycoming Creek watershed spans 11 municipalities, principally located in Lycoming County with some waterways in Tioga and Sullivan counties. 

The FracTracker Alliance published a similarly misleading assertion regarding the nearby Pine Creek watershed in 2019.

It is disconcerting that entities like the FracTracker Alliance – funded by large, aggressive, anti-energy foundations – continue to advance false narratives about Pennsylvania’s energy industry. 

It is equally disconcerting that news outlets report these false narratives without fact-checking misleading claims.

So how absurdly misleading is the FracTracker Alliance in its claims? 

Consider that the average Marcellus well can use between five and ten million gallons of water during the completion process, depending on the length of the well. Yet, the FracTracker Alliance data leads to the conclusion that  the average Marcellus well uses 1.21 BILLION gallons of water. 

This overstates  water usage by more than 120 times. In short, their tactic is to shock the conscience with outlandish claims, without attribution, in the hopes that those who read or disseminate their information will fail to verify it. 

While a natural gas well may use between five and ten million gallons of water for a one-time completion process, by comparison an average nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania uses up to 35 million gallons of water per day. 

Last year, shale gas producers recycled more than 90 percent of the water they used. And FracTracker Alliance falsely claims that shale gas wastewater is used for dust suppression on roadways – something which has never occurred and is explicitly prohibited by state law. Wastewater is also not discharged to streams, rivers or other waterways.

It seems even basic math eludes the FracTracker Alliance. They claim the watershed is home to 592 wells while publicly available data shows there are actually 417 wells within the watershed. 

Their claims regarding environmental compliance are equally dubious. In 2020, shale gas operators had an environmental compliance rate of 97 percent across Pennsylvania. Many of the ‘violations’ listed on the state’s publicly available website are in fact duplicative, including nearly two-thirds of those issued in 2020.

FracTracker Alliance paints a picture of the Lycoming Creek watershed as a veritable wasteland due to significant shale gas development over the past decade. Anyone who lives within the watershed, however, knows just the opposite is true. 

The watershed sits prominently within the Pennsylvania Wilds tourist destination, home to hundreds of miles of prized fishing and recreational waterways. And much of the watershed is designated by the state as “Exceptional Value” or “High Quality” – the most pristine designations Pennsylvania has to offer.

As observed in multiple water impact studies conducted by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission which found no discernible impacts from natural gas, the inconvenient truth for the FracTracker Alliance is that natural gas development can be, and is being, done safely, responsibly, and with rigorous protection of our natural resources. They need to look no further than the Lycoming Creek watershed for proof.

[For more information on unconventional, shale gas drilling and development, visit the Marcellus Shale Coalition website.]

Related Articles:

-- FracTracker Alliance: Releases Digital Atlas Showing The Impacts Of Natural Gas Development In Lycoming Creek Watershed 

-- Dangers Posed By Oil & Gas Drilling Wastes, Abandoned Wells + Siri Lawson’s Story From Warren County

-- House Environmental Committee Sets Aug. 17 Hearing On Environmental, Economic Benefits Of Pipelines; DEP Fined Pipelines Over $55 Million For Violations Over Last 5 Years  

-- Natural Gas, Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Are NOT Required To Carry Insurance Or Show They Can Pay For Damages If They Explode, Leak Or Kill Someone 

[Posted: August 5, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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