Archive for the ‘PA DEP’ Category

Faklempt Over Fracking in the Poconos: Jewish Overnight Camps Sign Leases

July 25, 2011

When I first read Josh Nathan-Kazis’ July 13 article in The Jewish Daily Forward, entitled Fracking Comes to Jewish Summer Camp, I was appalled that any children’s camp, or school or university, would lease their land for money, and expose children in our state to the horrible pollution associated with hydrofracking. Yet the Wayne Country property, home of the B’nai B’rith Perlman camp, is not the only one. About ten Jewish Camps, including the New Jersey Y, have already signed leases or entered negotiations with companies like Hess and Chesapeake. (more…)

Corbett’s Marcellus Commission Votes for Impact Fees, Forced Pooling

July 15, 2011

More Study, But Mostly Cement

Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission voted today to include 96 measures in their final report today. Populated heavily by drilling advocates with a token sprinkling of environmentalists, the group will file its final report on July 22, at which time it will be made public. Not surprisingly, their recommendations are more about making sure gas happens than making sure it happens right. (more…)

Will The Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission Recommend More Study or More Cement?

July 14, 2011

Regardless of how you feel about fracking taxes, it’s obvious that when it comes to natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale, the Corbett administration puts far too much faith in corporate good intentions, a few hundred DEP inspectors and cement. We need to come together on this complex and divisive issue, yet the upcoming July 22 report from the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission promises to further deepen the ideological fractures among citizens and stake-holders.


DEP Suggests New Rules! to Marcellus Advisory Commission

July 12, 2011

1,000 Feet
That’s how close to your water supply (water well, surface water intake, or reservoir), a gas company could legally frack a gas well, unless waived by operator.

500 Feet
That’s how close to your private water well a gas company could legally drill.

When a gas well is hydraulically fractured, the drill bit goes down vertically for a few thousand feet, then it turns horizontally. It travels sideways for up to a mile before a charge is detonated to blast water, sand and chemicals into the rock.

The last time I checked, a mile was 5,280 feet. (more…)

Got Gas? PA Storage Sites in Short Supply

July 9, 2011

The price of Natural Gas on the NYMEX was down to $9.32 on Friday. Not a big deal, still a few dollars above its ten year average, but interesting when you consider it means gas companies will have to store even more gas to ride out this slightly protracted dip in prices. So where, and how, is natural gas being stored? (more…)

PA DEP’s Report Card

July 8, 2011

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)  has had a productive year so far! It approved new 2,461 hydraulic fracturing permits since January, 2011. In 2010, the DEP issued 6,581 gas drilling permits, and it is right on track for increasing those numbers in the fall. Enforcement is also on the rise. With 1,512 Inspections overall in 2010, there were 2,754 Total Violations, and 769 Enforcements. This year, between January and May 2011, the DEP already has 977 Inspections under its belt, has issued 1,751 Total Violations (Wow!) and it has enacted 311 Enforcements.  SOURCE: (more…)

DEP Secretary Krancer Has Wealthy Dad: This Is Not News

July 7, 2011

An article by Laura Olson in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette today reports that a few state minority leaders are irked by the somewhat flamboyant timing of Ronald Krancer’s donation to the state GOP – it was on the eve of the confirmation of his son’s appointment to Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. It’s curious why, all the sudden, this matters. Michael Krancer’s appointment by Gov. Tom Corbett was widely applauded on both sides of the aisle, and his later confirmation was smooth sailing. And it’s odd because while Corbett has made some questionable appointments, this isn’t one of them. (more…)

Fraccidents Happen, Especially in Eastern PA

July 6, 2011

In 2010, drillers spent $33.5 million literally drilling the message that fracking is safe into the public’s collective pretty head. Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, however, is not an exact science. The end product, natural gas, is indeed a significantly cleaner burning fossil fuel, as it has fewer carbon emissions than oil or coal, but the process of blasting it out of shale a mile underground remains totally fraught.

The Fraccidents Map is the interactive website you hate to love. I check it like an analyst watches over stocks. I squint at the tiny pictures and contemplate rural landscapes tainted by gas drilling pollution. (more…)

Clean Water Action Calls on Lawmakers to Reject Cuts to DEP

July 3, 2011

State lawmakers are set to vote on  $160 million in budget cuts to the PA Department of Environmental Protection

In Pennsylvania this week, the Republican-controlled PA senate approved a new budget without a gas tax or impact fee. PA remains the only gas drilling state without one. Anti-gas-tax Governor Tom Corbett’s administration is issuing drilling permits (primarily in the Upper Delaware) with mercurial speed. At the same time, they are cutting funding to the Department of Environmental Protection. Regulation is one thing, enforcement quite another. And fracking’s cumulative impacts are already accumulating.

Corbett would like to table the frack-tax debate indefinitely, but even a steadily increasing number of house Republicans are growing impatient with all the lost revenue. On July 22, the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission’s final report is due on Corbett’s desk. Until then, he’s promised to veto any gas tax or impact fee. Maybe he figures drillers can afford to regulate themselves? (more…)

Lower Merion: What’s in Your Water?

June 29, 2011

Testing the Tap in Montgomery County

Lower Merion Township Drinking Water originates in the Schuylkill River Sub-Watershed. The Schuylkill River is the largest tributary to the Delaware River. In a sense, our watershed is the hydrological little sister to big brother Delaware. The Schuylkill extends through several counties as it winds towards Philadelphia. The name is derived from a Welsh word meaning “hidden river.” (more…)

Energy Advisory Board Natural Gas Subcommittee Holds Public Meeting #1 in DC Today

June 28, 2011

The Energy Advisory Board Natural Gas Subcommittee on Fracking Issues didn’t foresee the flaring passions of Pennsylvanians when they convened a meeting at Jefferson College in Washington, Pa. a few weeks ago. Well, now they know, and they’ve taken the proactive step of scheduling two more, longer meetings at their DC offices. While the Committee is heavy on industry insiders, the meetings are open to the public. The first one is today, and the second will be held on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 10am. The Committee is also accepting emails and written comments. Let’s bombard them! Feel free to paste in the letter below. Take a moment to get your two cents in and you’ll be glad you did, promise. Thanks for speaking up!


or write: (more…)

“Darn Close to Zero” Wastewater In PA Treatment Facilities, Says Secretary Krancer

June 9, 2011

Yesterday evening, DEP Secretary Michael Krancer joined a four member panel at The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. The panel included University of Pennsylvania Professor Richard Pepino, Rep. P. Michael Sturla (D., Lancaster) and ANS Senior Scientist, David Velinsky, who has studied the deleterious effects of industrial shale gas drilling on water supplies.

It was a full, but not packed, auditorium and heckling was – for the most part – polite. It was by design a calm conversation about why we have to frack for shale gas (cuz we like air-conditioning) and why we gotta “get it right” right now (cuz it’s coming, ready or not). It was generally agreed among all panelists, save Krancer, that the Delaware River Watershed is particularly appealing to drillers and Governor Corbett’s Office is basically a fact-free zone. Tom Corbett was the invisible boogie man in the room. (more…)

“DEP says Marcellus Shale drilling waste no longer being discharged into streams”

June 4, 2011

SOURCE: DONALD GILLILAND, The Patriot-News, Friday, June 03, 2011;
Pennsylvania has accomplished a “dramatic sea change” in its protection of water from pollution by drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, according to the state’s top environmental regulator.
Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer told officials in a meeting in Washington, D.C., on Thursday that drilling wastewater is no longer being discharged to rivers or streams in Pennsylvania without full treatment. (more…)

Frack Flowback in the Schuylkill River Basin?

June 1, 2011

Bryn Mawr-based AquaAmerica, Inc., one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing water utilities, is vastly expanding its waste management services in the Schuylkill River Basin, source of drinking water for 1.5 million residents of Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties. Since 2005, Aqua Wastewater Management, Inc., a solely owned Pennsylvania subsidiary, has been systematically building their portfolio of non-regulated waste-hauling ventures including Leary and Higgins waste hauling business in Chester County and Concord Wastewater Services, Inc. in Delaware County.

In July, 2006, Aqua Wastewater Management, Inc, acquired Perna Wastewater Management in Souderton, the largest residential septage hauling operator in the Schuylkill basin for $5.1 million. The purchase represents Aqua’s strategy to expand its waste hauling and treatment business in the region, which the company hopes will come to represent approximately two percent of annual sales. (more…)

PA DEP Splits Hairs, Drags Heels Over Duke Water Study

May 17, 2011

Duke University scientists published “The Duke Water Study” on May 9, 2011 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They found “systematic evidence” that fracking increases methane contamination at least 17 times in wells near gas drilling sites in 68 wells tested in NY and PA. Much as industry groups, such as the Marcellus Shale Coalition, would like to detract from Duke’s conclusions, the science is there. The “good” kind. (more…)

Tracking Frack Water “Cradle to Grave”

May 10, 2011

“Tracking Fracking Water Goes High-Tech”

ARTICLE by Bill Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A worker connects a hose to a truck to collect foam from a drill pit used in a Rice Energy Marcellus Shale drilling rig in Lone Pine, Washington County. The foam is created by combining soap, air and water, and is used to flush out drill cuttings to the surface. Once in the drill pit, it breaks down again into soap and water. The water is then taken to a disposal facility for treatment.

Water, as much as natural gas, is the lifeblood of the Marcellus Shale play. Drillers need millions of gallons of water to flush the gas out of its hiding spot, deep below ground. (more…)

PA DEP Says Its Job Is To “Get Gas Done”

May 9, 2011

“At the end of the day, my job is to make sure gas is done and gas is done right,” said Michael Krancer upon his appointment to Secretary of the PA Department of Environmental Protection.

Really? I thought the PA DEP mission was to “protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment,” and to “work as partners with individuals, organizations, governments and businesses to prevent pollution and restore our natural resources.” [SOURCE:]

Krancer may dismiss his critics for using “bad” science and having alternate agendas, like solar and wind, but it seems to me, an average interested citizen, that if the PA DEP was truly protecting our drinking water resources, they would wait until further “good” science is concluded before approving so many new gas drilling permits!

The PA DEP would also support the FRAC ACT because it would help them do their job more effectively. If drillers were required by law to publicly disclose fracking chemicals, the agency would have already known what chemicals were exploding from Chesapeake’s LeRoy, Bradford County well blowout on April 19. They would not have had to ask the company for it on April 22.  As of May 5, 2011, neither Chesapeake nor the PA DEP has made this information available to the public.

In all fairness, according to PA Environment Digest, Krancer also said his main job in regulating Marcellus Shale drilling is to protect the water. “There will be significant changes in the way the state’s energy policy is done. In the past, the DEP Secretary was the be-all and end-all for energy policy. ‘You’re not going to see that anymore,’ Krancer said. He said he will be part of a team, working with the Governor’s Energy Executive Patrick Henderson, to address energy issues.
 He noted Pennsylvania needs a diversified energy portfolio– nuclear, coal, natural gas, solar and wind– for the future.'”

“I want to leave a legacy as a good enforcer,” Krancer said.

Victory or Red Herring?

May 4, 2011
DEP Rolls Back Approval Process for Shale Violations
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
SOURCE: Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The state Department of Environmental Protection has completely rolled back a controversial, 5-week-old procedural change that required all field enforcement actions involving Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations be pre-approved by political appointees in Harrisburg.

Read more:


Certainly this is good news, since we had a right to the information the PA DEP would have withheld in the first place. We pay for it with our tax dollars. But is it really a victory to have something rightfully restored when it was wrongfully taken in the first place?

Here’s a statistic worth considering: Since January 1, 2011, the PA DEP has approved a whopping 956 permits, with a large majority in the Upper Delaware Watershed Region. Makes one wonder if their primary function is regulating threats to the environment or issuing permits? They don’t really care about NOVs. They’re gonna slap wrists and fines, either way. It’s a RED HERRING. It seems like their first interest is creating a profitable disposal route for recycled (distilled) flowback, and mitigating environmental impacts or protecting the public wellfare from the drilling itself comes second.

PA DEP Asks Drillers To Pretty Please Stop Dumping Waste Into Waterways

April 23, 2011

For those of us who are pro-water, this is good news indeed. Frack waste is radioactive. But let’s not get carried away. It’s not a law. Heck, it isn’t even a regulation. Is it the first step in the PA DEP’s effort to rigorously regulate? Or it is a red herring put forth to ease public concern while drilling moves forward at an increased pace?

Recycling flowback, even injecting the frack water back into new wells, is hardly an answer to a very serious problem: tons and tons of toxic, carcinogenic chemicals, along with massive volumes of fresh water pulled from our Special Protection Waters aquifers, are being blasted into the bedrock beneath our feet. Along with all the other dangerous compounds brought up, they are spewing forth, bubbling up and floating on the breeze. They are radioactive, and the state can’t handle it. The fact remains, the only way to completely mitigate adverse environmental and health effects is to NOT FRACK.


PA DEP Secretary Pushes Back

April 12, 2011

In a strongly worded reply to  Federal EPA Regional Administrator, Shawn M. Garvin, Acting Secretary of the PA Department of Environmental Protection, Hon. Michael Krancer, stands behind the agency’s current regulatory approach. He states:

“Unfortunately, your letter, along with the recent New York Times articles, overlooks DEP’s strong and ongoing efforts to protect the environment and public health. More specifically, the radionuclides and other pollutants of concern (barium and strontium) that were highlighted in your letter had all been previously identified by DEP and targeted in regulation, guidance, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting process, in-stream sampling, and public drinking water sampling.”

There’s nothing wrong with a strong stance from the PA Department of Environmental Protection! If we’re to have timely, effective, common sense regulations created and enforced, now more than ever, we need a DEP that will serve as a model to other states. Go Team Go! I only hope Mr. Krancer’s words and policies deliver the same measure of push-back to the pro-drilling interests and those who say they favor research and regulation, as long as they can keep drilling in our state.

For the complete text of Krancer’s letter: