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64% of PA is underlain by Marcellus Shale. As of October 2011 more than 8,400 drilling permits have been issued and nearly 4,000 wells Marcellus wells have been drilled. http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/minres/oilgas/images/Marcellus%20Shale%20Formation.jpg
Environmental and Public Health Concerns Chemical & wastewater leaks and accidents Threatening drinking water Endangering public and private lands Harmful air pollution Water use
Chemicals and wastewater leaks PA DEP lists 85 hydraulic fracturing components Wastewater returns to surface over lifetime of Frack fluid pill at Dimock gas well the well. Drilling wastewater often stored in open-air pits before transported to treatment facility. Tioga State Forest Turner Photo Credit: Jenne
Threatening drinking water Leaks and spills can also threaten nearby drinking water sources. Drilling allowed to occur as close as 100 feet from rivers and streams in PA and 200 feet from private water wells. Beaver Run Reservoir Several cases where private water wells contaminated or depleted soon after drilling begins (faulty casing, human error).
Endangering public lands As of May 2011, companies had leased Loyalsock State Forest appr. 7 million acres of public & private land (1/4 state land mass). Each drilling pad takes up an estimated 8 acres, including access roads, infrastructure 40 percent PA’s state forest that sit on top of Marcellus Shale have been leased to drilling companies – parks next?
Degrading Air Quality At various phases of extraction, invisible but harmful emissions can leak. Smog-forming Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC); Air toxics (benzene, ethylbenzene Methane (Potent greenhouse gas) Air is also the primary pathway of concern for fracturing chemicals in contaminated water (shower, cooking food).
Excessive water use Each well requires 2 to 6 million gallons of water for the process Gas companies look to local waterways to access water Many waterways cannot handle these excessive withdrawals Despite increased water re-use, fresh water still needed Matthewbartholemew under license from Shutterstock.com
Strengthen clean water laws Setting water withdrawal limits and reporting requirements on wastewater disposal Expanding the protective buffer zone around streams and drinking water supplies
Place pristine places off limits PennEnvironment supports: Designating pristine places off limits for natural gas drilling Designating a safe distance between drilling activities and these places Halting all new natural gas drilling leases in publicMatt Dylan under license from Shutterstock.com lands (state forests, state parks).
Improve public right to know Requiring natural gas companies to report the specific types and volumes of the chemicals used at each well. Requiring companies to report withdrawals Photo Credit: Robert Donnan from Pennsylvania’s waterways.
Increase public participation Requiring a public comment process for decisions being made about large tracts of state land. Improving Pennsylvania’s property rights and land use laws. Granting more rights to NicholasT under license for Shutterstock.com surface owners.
Improve tools for Pennsylvania’s regulators Increasing capacity and funding for DEP’s permitting department and enforcement staff. Increasing DEP’s time period for reviewing permits . Allowing state health and environment officials to provide input on Bob Donnan applications for operations that could affect public health or wildlife habitat.
Ensuring industries pay for damages Levying extraction fees on gas drillers for the valuable resources they remove form underneath Pennsylvania. Requiring drilling companies to pay for environmental and public health problems they create. Requiring natural gas Photo Credit: Wetzel County Action Group companies to pay the entire cost of reclaiming wells.
Opportunities for Action U.S. EPA: Air rules on oil and gas sector to reduce smog-forming pollutants, air toxics and methane Delaware River Basin Commission: Likely to allow drilling in river basin soon: October 21 decision. Susquehanna River Basin Commission: Fast-tracking of Marcellus Shale projects