Thousands of feet below the
surface of Pennsylvania are the Marcellus and Utica shale formations
and their reserves of natural gas. Since 1859, more than 325,000 oil and gas wells have
been drilled in the state, and many areas still bear the scars of
strip-mining for coal. Since
2004 nearly 3,000 new wells have been drilled in
Two recent court cases -
31 October 2013
Courthouse News Service - A Pennsylvania doctor cannot fight a
"medical gag rule" that he says forces physicians to keep the public
ignorant of the health dangers of hydrofracking, a federal judge
Rodriguez, who specializes in renal diseases, hypertension and
advanced diabetes in Dallas, Pa., said the law prevents doctors from
telling patients or the public about the health dangers of hydraulic
22 July 2013 Court House News
- The United States sued Exxon subsidiary XTO Energy, claiming its
hydraulic fracking has polluted public drinking waters in
Pennsylvania with toxic wastes.
Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection has been busy:
1 July 2010 The Department of Agriculture
quarantined cattle from a Tioga County
farm after a number of cows came into contact with drilling
wastewater from a nearby natural gas operation.
"We took this precaution in
order to protect the public from consuming any of this potentially
contaminated product should it be marketed for human consumption.”
27 September 2013 DEP’s
Office of Oil and Gas Management
has implemented recommendations to further protect Pennsylvania’s
natural resources, part of the commitment of Gov. Corbett and the
General Assembly who have worked hard to adopt environmental
standards that are now national standards.
30 May 2013 The Department of
Environmental Protection ordered two natural gas drilling companies, Range Resources - Appalachia LLC and
Chief Oil and Gas LLC, to suspend
operations at separate sites in Lycoming County for violating Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law.
15 July 2012 - Shale gas is so deep and fracking involves handling massive amounts
of water, shale gas development leaves a bigger footprint on the
landscape than does conventional drilling.
13 December 2011 DEP successfully
abandoned gas well in Versailles;
Family allowed to return home in time for Christmas
2010 11 wells
were plugged using
Pennsylvania’s Orphan Well Plugging Fund
at a cost to the state of $137,348.
DEP has documented more than
8,700 wells throughout the state that were abandoned prior to
passage of modern oil and gas drilling regulations.
2009-2010 - The Department of Environmental Protection ordered
Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation
to cease all natural gas well hydro fracking operations in Dimock, Susquehanna County
and fined them hundreds of thousand of dollars.
Cabot Oil & Gas failed to address
migrating gas from drilling operations that contaminated groundwater
and the drinking water supplies of 14 homes in the region.
13 June 2010
DEP staff and drilling operators discussed the status of
migration investigations at drilling sites and reviewed proposed
regulations that strengthen well construction standards and
establish procedures for reporting gas migration problems.
259 abandoned oil and gas wells
plugged in 2010
Many of the wells were leaking oil, acid mine drainage or natural
DEP was forced to act quickly to plug an
abandoned oil well that wass releasing
natural gas into the air near a residential neighborhood in Moon Township, Allegheny County.
14 July 2010 Department of Environmental Protection looking into the cause of a
fire at a natural gas well pad in Susquehanna County.
13 July 2010 Untrained personnel and the
failure to use proper well control procedures were the principal
causes of a natural gas well blowout in
Clearfield County, according to an independent investigationby
the Department of Environmental Protection
7 June 2010 DEP Orders EOG Resources to
halt all natural gas drilling activities in
Pennsylvania after a blowout at a Clearfield County wells sent
natural gas and at least 35,000 gallons of drilling wastewater into
the sky and over the ground for 16 hours.
14 May 2010 The Department of Environmental Protection
has fined Range Resources $141,175 for spill of
fluids from a gas drilling operation that killed fish and aquatic
life in a high-quality waterway in Hopewell Township, Washington
13 May 2010 The Department of
Environmental Protection has fined Rex
Energy Operating Corp. $45,000 for numerous environmental violations
at the company’s Alder Run natural gas well site in Cooper Township,
5 May 2010
Commission review of pending or future proposed
water withdrawals to
be used to supply water to natural gas extraction projects,
including Stone Energy’s proposed water withdrawal from the West
Branch Lackawaxen River in Mount Pleasant Township, Wayne County
28 April 2010 The Department of Environmental Protection
gathered samples to analyze air quality in areas near
natural gas operations in Washington and Greene counties after
complaints from residents about odors.
20 April 2010 DEP met with gas drilling
companies to discuss ways to prevent
dangerous gas migration situations, safeguard homes and water supplies
25 February 2010 The Department of
Environmental Protection has ordered Schreiner Oil and Gas Co. to
provide a permanent solution to pennsylvania10.htmwater
supply issues at two homes impacted by the company’s drilling
activity near Hedgehog Lane, McKean County.
3 February 2010
Department of Environmental Protection open a new
Oil and Gas Management
office in Scranton, Lackawanna County, to improve the agency’s
ability to oversee and respond to issues stemming from increased
natural gas drilling throughout the region.
1 February 2010 The Department of
Environmental Protection fined Fortuna
Energy Inc. $3,500 for
violations at three of the company’s natural
gas wells in Troy Township, Bradford County.
13 January 2010 The Susquehanna River
Basin Commission ordered Texas-based Novus Operating LLC, a natural gas drilling
company, to immediately cease all water-related activities at two
drilling pad sites in the Marcellus shale formation in Brookfield
Township, Tioga County. The company began drilling two wells without
7 January 2010
Atlas Resources, LLC was fined $85,000 for
violations of the Oil and Gas Act, the Clean Streams Law; and the
Solid Waste Management Act at 13 well sites in Fayette, Washington,
and Greene counties.
28 October 2009 Ultra Resources Inc. and
Fortuna Energy Inc. had three erosion
and sedimentation control general permits revoked due to
technical deficiencies, and received notice of violation letters to
the three licensed professionals who prepared the applications.
28 October 2009
The Department of Environmental
Protection begins collecting higher permit application fees for
non-Marcellus Shale oil and natural gas
wells drilled in Pennsylvania to cover the cost of the agency’s
permitting and enforcement work.
27 August 2009 Gas Field Specialist Inc. of Shinglehouse, Potter County,
was fined $3,000 for operating an unpermitted residual wastewater transfer
station in Dunnstable Township, Clinton County.
28 July 2009 The Department of Environmental
Protection is investigating a leak at a non-Marcellus
well at an East Resources well in McNett Township, Lycoming
County, at gas wells run by East Resources.
23 June 2009 Jersey Shore Borough was
ordered to immediately stop accepting
wastewater from oil and gas drilling for treatment at the borough’s
sewage treatment plant.
4 May 2009 The first draft discharge
permit published for a gas well wastewater treatment plant on the
Susquehanna River to TerrAqua Resource Management LLC establishing
specific treatment parameters for gas
well drilling wastewater, which includes frac water, brine water and
4 May 2009 The Department of Environmental Protection has
determined that Schreiner Oil and Gas Company has affected at least
seven water supplies along Hedgehog Lane in Bradford Township,
8 July 2009 The Department of Environmental Protection has
assessed a $32,000 civil penalty against First Alliance Church in
Millcreek Township, Erie County, for a gas migration episode
that kept five families out of their homes for 39 days in
November and December 2007.
13 January 2009 The Department of Environmental Protection
and the natural gas drilling industry launch a partnership to
explore innovative methods to treat wastewater generated from oil
and gas well drilling operations in the commonwealth.
173 abandoned wells plugged
threaten water supplies and public health at a cost to the state of
nearly $3 million
25 June 2008
The Department of Environmental Protection approves two plans
designed to protect the residents of a Westmoreland County community
from stray methane gas from an old,
abandoned well in Vandergrift.
13 June 2008 Department of Environmental
Protection said taking advantage
of the state’s energy resources is important to the its economy and
the nation’s interests, but doing so must be balanced against the
need to protect its natural resources.
18 January 2008 Marcellus is more easily
produced by horizontal drilling across
fractures, and until recently, gas production companies seemed
unaware of the presence of the natural fractures necessary for
magnifying the success of horizontal drilling in the Marcellus.
12 October 2007 After successfully
installing four stray gas mitigation
systems on properties in Versailles Borough, Allegheny County, work
begins to vent gases—primarily methane—away from homes.
26 September 2007 Pennsylvania makes
highway right-of-ways available for pennsylvania15.htmlandfill
gas pipeline projects, further encouraging and promoting the
recovery and use of this emerging source of renewable energy
15 June 2007 The Department of Environmental Protection
has ordered the owners of Synd Enterprises Inc. to pay a
civil penalty for numerous and chronic violations of environmental
laws and regulations related to oil and gas operations. The
owners, Stephen and Cynthia Ford must refrain from owning or
operating any future oil and gas operations in Pennsylvania.
5 July 2007 The Department of Environmental Protection
releases a U.S. Geological Survey study finding that
the natural gas present in some Tioga County water wells is a
chemical that matches the gas found in three storage field
reservoirs next to Tioga Junction, which are owned and operated by
Dominion Transmission and PP&L.
19 September 2007
Pennsylvania invests $2.3 million to plug 150 abandoned oil and
gas wells on private property in 10 counties.
15 August 2006 DEP collected water and gas
samples following elevated methane gas
levels in water wells in the Tioga County community of Mainesburg in an effort to assess the problem,
identifying private water supplies where a detectable amount of
methane is present.
6 April 2006
Oil and gas drilling activity has been at a sustained high level,
with record numbers of drilling permits
issued each of the past two years
11 February 2005 Environmental Protection announced that analysis of three stray
methane gas samples taken from McMurray Road in Peters Township
indicate the stray gas is coming from a Columbia Gas pipeline.