Pennsylvania: Never ending bad news about natural gas operations

Pennsylvania is a state where the bad news about natural gas operations never seems to end. The latest?

  • Drilling mud has been spilled four times into Laurel Lake Creek during drilling of a natural gas pipeline. Laurel Lake Creek is part of the Silver Creek watershed, and portions of the watershed have been determined to have "exceptional value" because they contain pristine streams that deserve extra protections from environmental harm. It took four spills before the state shut down this operation. A worker on the site said in a video that this type of issue was "typical" for this kind of work.
  • Earlier this year, the state asked natural gas operators to voluntarily stop sending fracking waste to wastewater treatment plants, because these plants weren’t adequately equipped to treat the toxic ingredients and the waste was discharged into rivers that are sources of drinking water. It seems that not all natural gas operators in Pennsylvania abided by this request, and "a significant amount of the waste was still taken to plants not designed to treat it," so now the state is asking the operators to certify by Monday, Aug. 29, that they will not take wastewater to these facilities.
  • A family in Bulter County, in northwest Pennsylvania, reports that their water turned black and smelled awful after nearby natural gas drilling, and that tests reveal high levels of arsenic and methylene chloride, a potential carcinogen. Neighbors also report getting sick from water that turned bad after nearby fracking.
  • Cross Creek Park in Washington County, southwestern Pennsylvania, was created in part by eminent domain -- the County forcibly took land from private landowners who did not want to sell their land, in the interest of creating a public green space and lake. The park is in a "Special Protection Watershed." But the County leased the natural gas rights, and drilling began on this public park. Since then, there has been a spill in the park which led to a fish kill, and some of the public land has been placed off limits to park visitors. Now the county is considering even more leasing.
  • Two new lawsuits in Washington County claim a company violated state laws 11 times and contaminated drinking water wells, property, and a creek by hydraulic fracturing, spilling diesel fuel and motor oil, and dumping contaminated mud into ditches near drinking water wells.
  • According to news reports,the state has forbidden agencies from signing contracts that support renewable energy, and is dismantling offices that were charged with administering clean energy grants, providing technical assistance to renewable energy companies, and helping state agencies adopt environmentally sustainable practices.

All in all, Pennsylvania seems to be headed down the dirty energy path instead of the clean energy one.