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Friday, April 17, 2015
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Pennsylvania Shale Gas Operators Cited
for 337 Well Casing Violations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 30, 2014
Alex Lotorto, Energy Justice Network 570-281-2215 firstname.lastname@example.org
Adam Hasz, SustainUS 570-630-0389 email@example.com
Shale gas operators have been cited for a total of 337 well casing violations in Pennsylvania out of an estimated 8,473 wells drilled.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s compliance and well count data, there has been one well casing violation for every twenty-five wells drilled in the decade since unconventional shale gas development began.
Well casing violations are cited when the structural integrity of a shale gas well is lost. Improperly casing the borehole may result in contamination entering groundwater resources such as springs and aquifers. Well casing violations fall under seven categories, some of those categories include; improperly or insufficiently installed cement, failure to report insufficient or improper cement within a twenty-four hour period; and failure to case and cement to prevent migrations into fresh groundwater.
Two companies with the greatest number of casing violations include Chesapeake Energy, with fifty-four violations and Talisman Energy Inc with forty-one violations, each accounting for about six percent of their total well casing violations. Operators with ten or more wells who had the greatest percentage of well casing violations were Chief Oil and Gas and Exxon Mobil, both having approximately 11.5 percent of wells drilled with well casing violations.
The data review was completed by a partnership of environmental groups including Energy Justice Network and SustainUs. Researchers sourced well count data from the PA DEP Spud Report and the well casing violations were counted using the online PA DEP Compliance Report, both available on the department’s website.
Energy Justice Network mission is to support communities threatened by polluting energy and waste technologies. Taking direction from a grassroots base and the Principles of Environmental Justice, EJN advocates a clean energy, zero-emission, zero-waste future for all.
SustainUS’ mission is “to empower young people to advance sustainable development. Through proactive education, research and advocacy at the policy-making level and at the grassroots, we are building a future in which all people recognize the inherent equality and interdependence of social, economic, and environmental sustainability. We strive to reflect our values through the diversity of members and projects, our ongoing commitment to educating ourselves and others, and the way we live our lives.”
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Booklet (print double-sided)
Before the appeal, you should…
1) Follow oil and gas permits in your township, borough, and/or county using the PA DEP’s ENotice system: http://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eNOTICEweb/ or Google “PA DEP ENotice”
2) Comment on permit applications early, with your neighbors. Good topics may include nearby residents with respiratory illness, nearby threatened, rare, or endangered species habitat, the violations record of the company, the impact on the housing market, homeowners insurance rates, and mortgage availability, and the impact on local recreational and tourist businesses.
3) For your comment, check for local endangered species habitat using the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory in your county. Google: “Pennsylvania PNDI” and check the GIS map and the resources report for your county to get details.
4) If you are citing respiratory illness as a concern, it is helpful to include a doctor’s note explaining your diagnosis with your public comment.
5) To search for and print out the violations record for any driller, use the PA DEP Oil and Gas Compliance Report, with date ranges from 01/01/2000 to present, and “Unconventional Only” selected to make sure you’re only looking at shale gas wells. Google “PA DEP Gas Compliance Report” and navigate to the report viewer. Exporting the results of your search as a PDF and printing it out for you comment, will also allow you to more easily puruse the inspector’s comments and cite them in your arguments.
Under the new Act 13 law, PA DEP has a right to deny a permit to any company with an outstanding violation. The relevant section that you should quote in your comment is Section 3211. You should encourage DEP to exercise its power, especially if the driller you are fighting has a lot of violations.
Section 3211 reads as follows:
(e.1) Denial of permit. – The department may deny a permit for any of the following reasons: . . .
(5) The department finds that the applicant, or any parent or subsidiary corporation of the applicant, is in continuing violation of this chapter, any other statute administered by the department, any regulation promulgated under this chapter or a statute administered by the department or any plan approval, permit or order of the department, unless the violation is being corrected to the satisfaction of the department. The right of the department to deny a permit under this paragraph shall not take effect until the department has taken a final action on the violations and:
(i) the applicant has not appealed the final action in accordance with the act of July 13, 1988 (P.L. 530, No. 94), known as the Environmental hearing Board Act; or
(ii) if an appeal has been filed, no supersedeas has been issued.
6) Articles about concerned homeowners insurance companies, mortgage companies, homebuyers, tourists, and other traditional rural businesses negatively impacted can be searched for using Google News. These can be included with your comment to justify your argument.
After the permit is issued…
First, you will receive a Comment Response document from PA DEP arguing against you. Thirty days after your receipt of that document in the mail, you can file an appeal.
Especially if you made a good public comment, you will likely have standing in front of the PA DEP's Environmental Hearing Board.
Their website is www.ehb.courtapps.com for forms, case law, and more information. It is the appeal structure within the DEP that consists of appointed judges that decide whether to overturn DEP actions and issue injunctions, or “supersedeas”.
Since every aspect of drilling must be permitted by the DEP, every permit can be appealed and injunctions called "supersedeas" can be issued to stop drilling until a hearing takes place. It takes about eight months to get an appeal hearing, during which time each side presents its expert arguments.
The best way to approach an appeal is to have a lawyer or otherwise free legal counsel. Before you attempt to enter the appeal process without a lawyer, or “pro se”, contact these free law clinics to see if they will take your case.:
The Widener Environmental Help Line run by the Environmental Law Clinic provides advice and preparation for self-representation for Pennsylvania citizens confronting environmental problems. The Help Line allows Pennsylvania citizens to seek the Clinic’s help by contacting the Clinic in one of two ways:
* A Toll Free telephone line: 1-888-953-6853
The University of Pittsburgh Environmental Law Clinic
Potential clients may call 412-648-1300 to speak with a clinic representative, who will take down their information and relay it to the clinic’s supervising attorney.
The Drexel University Environmental Law Clinic is affiliated with The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Located at: United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 2nd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19103215-627-7100
(tel)215-627-3183 (fax)www.pilcop.orgEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are unable to obtain counsel through hiring a lawyer or from a free law clinic, hold your nose, close your eyes and get ready jump in the swamp of regulatory appeal boards. You’re about to file your appeal “pro se”. The following guide is from 1998, published by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. Much of the contact information and addresses are incorrect. In a later edition I will update them. For now, use the EHB website to obtain correct addresses.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
- Report without Appendix
- Appendix (Part 1) - Shell Compliance Report
- Appendix (Part 2) - Shell Spud Report
This report analyzes data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) regarding violations cited for shale gas development by Shell Oil Co. subsidiaries through the end of 2012. Key findings include:
Shell has a 5:6 violation-to-well ratio. Out of 603 wells drilled, we found that Shell subsidiaries, East Resources Inc., East Resources Mgmt. LLC and SWEPI LP, were cited for 494 violations by PA DEP.
90 percent of Shell’s violations were environmental in nature. Out of 494 violations, we identified 443 that were environmental in nature, which have, or are likely to cause harm to the environment.
Shell has been cited for a casing failure rate of about one percent of wells for a total of six citations. It is important to note that well casings are meant to protect aquifers from contamination by chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” , process.
Shell was cited violations 45 times for Improper Construction of Waste Impoundments, 37 times for Faulty Pollution Prevention Practices, 25 times for Discharge of Industrial Waste. This presents imminent danger to surface and ground water supplies.
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