Friday, December 16, 2022

Republican Herald/Scranton Times Editorial: DEP Professes Unwarranted Faith In Shale Gas Drillers

This editorial was first published in the
Republican Herald and the Scranton Times on December 14, 2022--

Anyone wondering why the Delaware River Basin Commission doesn’t trust the natural gas industry to drill safely need look no further than the adjacent Susquehanna River watershed.

Pennsylvania’s government long has been outmaneuvered by the industry. Many members of the state Legislature have been lap dogs for industry interests for more than 15 years. 

And that has been reflected in the state Department of Environmental Protection’s accommodating oversight of drilling.

The DRBC regulates water distribution and exercises some environmental oversight for the Delaware River watershed, which provides water for about 13 million people. Its members are the governments of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware and the federal government.

The agency has precluded drilling in the watershed, and recently voted to preclude dumping drilling and fracking wastewater anywhere in the watershed, while making it more difficult for drillers to extract water for fracking operations.  [Read more here.]

All of those restrictions have drawn howls of protest from the industry and some landowners have protested that they cannot extract value from their land through drilling leases.

Meanwhile, the DEP makes it hard to argue with the Delaware commission’s decisions.

The agency was woefully ineffective in the early days of the industry’s arrival. 

After residents of the tiny crossroads of Dimock, Susquehanna County, filmed themselves lighting their tap water on fire soon after Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. began drilling, the agency finally placed a moratorium on drilling around the village.

The state attorney general’s office did not criminally charge Cabot until 2020. Recently, Cabot’s successor, Coterra Energy Inc., pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Streams Law for the migration of methane into Dimock’s residential wells. 

It agreed to pay $16 million for a municipal water system and to pay residents’ water bills for 75 years.

Now, remarkably, the DEP has lifted the moratorium on horizontal drilling for gas under Dimock, while insisting that the decision was not related to the plea deal.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the governor-elect, was critical of the DEP during his gubernatorial campaign. 

Reinstating the moratorium would be a good place for him to start making the agency an aggressive guardian of the public interest.

Related Articles This Week:

-- Better Path Coalition: 65 Organizations, Businesses, 2,700+ Individuals Petition Gov.-Elect Shapiro To Ban Road Dumping Of Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater  [PaEN]

-- DEP Consent Agreement Allowing Shale Gas Drilling To Resume Under Dimock, Susquehanna County Sets New Drilling, Water Supply Protection Standards, Imposes $444,000 Penalty  [PaEN]

-- DEP Assesses $600,000 Penalty For Illegal Disposal Of Over 1,800 Truck Loads Of Oil & Gas Waste Drill Cuttings In Fayette County  [PaEN]

-- DEP Issues Notice Of Violation To Shell Petrochemical Plant In Beaver County For Air Quality Violations In Sept. - Oct.  [PaEN]

-- AG Shapiro: Free Water Evaluations Begin For Homeowners Affected By Construction Of Mariner East 2 Natural Gas Liquids Pipeline  [PaEN]

-- Bloomberg: A Massive Natural Gas Leak In Pennsylvania Is Adding To Climate Scrutiny

-- Presentations Now Available From Shale Gas & Public Health Conference In Nov. Hosted By PA League Of Women Voters & University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health  [PaEN]

-- EPA Accepts Final DEP Oil/Gas Facility VOC/Methane Emission Limits Regulation For Review, Stops Imposition Of Federal Highway Funding, Other Sanctions  [PaEN]

-- Ohio River Valley Institute Decarbonization Pathway Relies On Zero Emissions Resources, Energy Efficiency, Increased Electrification Is Less Costly Than Natural Gas, Carbon Capture Options  [PaEN]

-- CNX Unveils Appalachia-Focused Vision For The Future, Promoting New Natural Gas Development, Use - ‘Produce It Here. Use  It Here - First’  [PaEN]

NewsClips This Week:

-- Bob Donnan Blog: Real Shale Gas History: Spying & Psychological Operations On PA Citizens 2010-14

-- Bob Donnan Blog: Real Shale Gas History: 12 Articles On Shale Gas Development In PA As Told By The Families and Communities That Experienced It

-- Inside Climate News: Q/A With Eliza Griswold Pulitzer Winning Author Of Deep Dive Into Fracking In PA, How Extractive Industries ‘Gut’ Communities 

-- Post-Gazette Guest Essay: Petrochemical Plants Are An Environmental And Economic Dead End For Southwestern PA - By Breathe Collaborative

-- StateImpactPA - Rachel McDevitt: PA Natural Gas Prices Rise [94.7%] As Production Falls, Report Says 

-- PennLive: Residents Evacuated Just Before Natural Gas Explosion Flattened Their Home In Dauphin County

-- MCall - Ford Turner: Special Report: More Than 125 Natural Gas Odor Reports In Pottstown, Montgomery County In The 29 Months Before Deadly Home Explosion

-- Public News Service: New EPA Oil & Gas Methane Emission Reduction Rules Could Translate To More PA Jobs

[Posted: December 16, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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