Thursday, July 5, 2012

More Water Concerns with Drilling

Starrucca Viaduct, Lanesboro PA
A week after the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) suspended water withdrawals I decided to drive through the northern tier of Pennsylvania to check on the rivers. The water is so low that some smaller creeks are nearly dry and farmers are irrigating their fields and row crops. It looks like August, not the beginning of July - and while not "technically" a drought, it's getting close in some parts of the state.

That same day, July 3 the American Water Works Association released a statement calling for more regulatory oversight of hydro-fracking operations. They call on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act to regulate oil and gas well construction and operation - including hydro-fracking- through the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. They also ask EPA to use its existing authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate discharges from oil and gas wells. While the group supports sound federal energy policies, it clearly states that oil and gas development (including fracking) "must provide appropriate protection of our nation's ground water and surface water resources."

Meanwhile, the residents in Leroy Township (Bradford County, PA) are dealing with another spill - 4,700 gallons of hydrochloric acid at the Yoder well operated by Chief Oil and Gas. So far it's been contained, say the folks from Chief and PA's Department of Environmental Protection, with no runoff getting into Towanda Creek.


  1. fighting tooth and nail in Syracuse Sue,

  2. ...but this will defeat the purpose of Cheney's "Haliburton Loophole", which is to protect the oil & gas industries from the consequences of their actions...they won't be able to operate anywhere in the US if this goes through!

  3. The industry is responsible for regulating itself. Even with the withdrawal suspension I still see hundreds of fresh water tankers driving by non-stop day and night in Wyoming County. The Susquehanna River and all streams in Wyoming County are below the low flow protection limits and have been for nearly 2 weeks. The withdrawals have not stopped. There are also numerous companies with permits that have the same low flow protection limits that withdraw from the same exact sources that are not listed for unknown reasons. Just search approved permits on to see them.

    Some of the permits being issued by the SRBC, specifically to larger companies like Cabot and Chesapeake, have no low flow protection in place. They are allowed to withdraw millions of gallons per day, regardless of low flow, as long as they don't withdraw over a certain amount per minute. Some permits with lower withdrawal limits even have more strict low flow protection limits than companies withdrawing 2-3 times as much water from the same exact source. There appears to be no rhyme or reason. It's a false sense of security and the SRBC is rubber stamping permits and not enforcing compliance.

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