Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Senate Hearing: 3.5 Million Gallons Of Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Dumped On PA Public Roads Since DEP’s ‘Moratorium’ On Dumping Started 6 Years Ago

On April 17, Karen Feridun from the
Better Path Coalition told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee 3.5 million gallons of conventional oil and gas wastewater has been dumped on Pennsylvania’s public roads since DEP’s ‘moratorium’ on dumping started six years ago.

“‘Reported’ is the operative term because, as we learned in 2022, more than half of conventional drillers fail to file production and waste reports,” said Feridun.

In 2023, 86% of conventional well owners failed to report the amount of waste they generated and where it went, according to DEP.  Read more here.

The hearing was organized by Sen. Katie Muth (D-Chester), Chair of the Committee, and Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, to examine the environmental and public health impacts associated with disposing of conventional oil and gas wastewater on public roads.

Feridun explained the settlement of a 2017 appeal before the Environmental Hearing Board resulted in DEP’s Oil and Gas Program putting in place a ‘moratorium’ on approvals for road dumping.

But conventional oil and gas well owners got around it by going to DEP’s Waste Management Program to use the co-product provisions of the Residual Waste Regulations.

“The Coproduct Program allows owners of a waste product to use it in place of a commercial product as long as it works as well and does no more harm to the environment or health than the commercial product does,” explained Feridun..

“However, the program is so loosely structured that waste owners who believe their product passes muster can start using it without notifying the DEP. They are only required to keep their determination report on file to give to prospective clients and to the DEP should the agency request it.

“In 2021, the Bureau started requesting Coproduct Determination reports from drillers who had reported road spreading in 2020, so I filed a Right-to-Know request to receive whatever they received. 

“What drillers submitted bore no resemblance to what a determination report should look like. They sent extraneous information – a copy of [25 PA Code Chapter] 287.8, form letter ‘testimonials’ from municipalities that like road spreading, random lab reports that did not meet the requirements of [25 PA Code Chapter] 287.8. 

“None of them appeared to be trying to do a proper determination. To date, none has.”

[Note: DEP’s written testimony submitted to the Committee did not offer examples of the enforcement action DEP has taken related to failed co-product determinations.]. 

“Road spreading was a heavily-used method of disposal before the moratorium went into effect.

“Nearly 29.4 million gallons of waste was road spread in the three years before the moratorium, roughly 92% more than was reported in the three years after the moratorium.

“Where did all that waste go? Nobody knows, but there is no question that some of it went where it always went – on our roads. 

“We need a permanent ban on all road spreading and serious consequences for any driller who ignores it,” said Feridun.

Click Here for a copy of Feridun’s written testimonyClick Here for The Better Path’s Moratorium Morass briefing paper.

A video of the hearing is posted on Sen. Muth’s website.

Resource Links:

-- Photos Of Typical Road Dumping:  See Photos Here + See Photos Here 

-- Spring Road Dumping Season Underway As Conventional Oil & Gas Well Owners Get Rid Of Their Wastewater  [PaEN]

Hearing Testimony

-- Dr. William Burgos, Penn State Professor of Environmental Engineering.  Written Testimony + Journal Article/Research Paper Showing Conventional and Shale Gas Wastewater Very Similar

-- David Hess, Former Secretary of DEP under Governors Ridge and Schweiker.  Written Testimony.

-- Siri Lawson, Warren County resident, significantly impacted by road dumping.  Written Testimony

-- Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, who has done important research into waste reporting and related issues on conventional road dumping.  Written Testimony

-- Department of Environmental Protection Written Testimony Only

Related Articles - Road Dumping Hearing:

-- Senate Hearing: The Case For An Immediate, Total Ban On Road Dumping Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater  [PaEN]

-- Senate Hearing: Penn State Expert: ‘No More Research That Needs To Be Done’ To Justify A Ban On Road Dumping Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater  [PaEN]

-- Senate Hearing: First-Hand Account Of Health, Environmental Impacts From Road Dumping Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater - ‘Inhaling Oil & Gas Wastewater 24-Hours A Day’  [PaEN]

-- Senate Hearing: 3.5 Million Gallons Of Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Dumped On PA Public Roads Since DEP’s ‘Moratorium’ On Dumping Started 6 Years Ago  [PaEN]

-- Senate Hearing: DEP Still Evaluating The Data On Road Dumping Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater; Asks Public To Report Road Dumping  [PaEN]

PA Oil & Gas Industry Public Notice Dashboards:

-- PA Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - April 13 to 19 - Oil & Gas Well Owners Actively, Repeatedly Ignoring DEP Notices Of Violation; 12 Abandoned Wells  [PaEN]

-- Attorney General Henry Files Charges Against Shell Falcon Pipeline For Failure To Report Drilling Issues That Caused Industrial Waste, Potential for Water Pollution  [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices, Opportunities To Comment - April 20 [PaEN] 

-- DEP Posted 74 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In April 20 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]  

Related Articles This Week - Gas:

-- April 25 Conventional Oil & Gas Well Owners Advisory Council Meeting Features Discussion Of Dumping Wastewater On Public Roads; Well Plugging Grant Programs; Regs. Limiting Methane Pollution From Wells  [PaEN] 

-- PA Marcellus Shale Gas Coalition Doubles-Down On Support For Exporting PA Natural Gas To China, Our Economic, Military Competitor  [PaEN] 

-- Bloomberg: Europe’s Demand For LNG Gas Set To Peak In 2024 As Crisis Fades

-- Commonwealth Court Affirms EHB Ruling Sen. Muth Lacks Standing To Appeal A DEP Permit For Eureka Resources Oil & Gas Wastewater Treatment Facility  [PaEN] 

-- Protect PT Hosting April 30 Webinar On How Your Municipality Can Protect Itself From The Dangers Of Oil & Gas Wastewater Injection Wells  [PaEN]

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission Holds May 2 Hearing On Water Use Requests, Including 7 Shale Gas Drilling Uses In Lycoming, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wyoming Counties  [PaEN] 

-- Guest Essay: Claims That Only Thermal Energy Resources Can Ensure Electric Grid Reliability Don’t Pass The Laugh Test - By John Quigley, Kleinman Center For Energy Policy, University of Pennsylvania  [PaEN] 

NewsClips - Gas:

-- Environmental Health Project: Gov. Shapiro’s Record On Shale Gas And Health - A Look At The Grand Jury Recommendations One Year In 

-- The Allegheny Front - Reid Frazier: Attorney General Files Criminal Charges Against Shell Falcon Pipeline On Whistleblower Reports Over Pipeline Spills

-- PA Capital-Star: Democratic State Senators Want To End Road Dumping Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater

-- PA Senators Call For Ban On Spraying Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater On Roads

-- Post-Gazette - Anya Litvak: PA Oil & Gas Wastewater Treatment/Disposal Company Was Building A Conglomerate; What’s Left Is A Pile Of Waste  

-- Warren Times Editorial: Government Too Quick To Use Taxpayer Money To Plug Abandoned Conventional Wells

-- Chesapeake Bay Journal - Ad Crable: Power, Pipeline Corridors Becoming Wildlife Habitat 

-- The Guardian: Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Leak Exposes Carbon Capture Safety Gaps In Louisiana April 3

-- The Energy Age Blog: PA Oil & Gas Well Terminology From DEP

[Posted: April 17, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

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