House Committee Meets May 4 On Bill To Roll Back Environmental Protections From Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling, Legalize Road Dumping Of Drilling Wastewater

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to meet on May 4 to consider House Bill 1144 (Causer-R-Cameron) which would not only roll back environmental protection standards for conventional oil and gas wells, but would also make road dumping of drilling wastewater legal again.
On April 22, conventional drilling industry representatives on the PA Grade Crude (Oil) Development Advisory Council said their number one priority was finding ways of disposing of drilling wastewater, including allowing road dumping.

Over 195 statewide and local environmental groups and over 1,655 citizens have made it clear to legislators they oppose this legislation when it was introduced last session. Read more here.

Gov. Wolf vetoed similar legislation in November].

This bill and its Senate companion– Senate Bill 534 (Hutchinson-R-Venango)– were introduced as a follow up to action by the General Assembly to kill DEP’s final updated conventional drilling regulations in 2016 because the industry thought they were too strict.

The law then created the PA Grade Crude Development Advisory Council, made up of all industry-related individuals, that was supposed to “advise” DEP on development a new update to the conventional drilling regulations, but so far no draft regulations have been discussed by the Council since it was created in 2016.

DEP said in September it plans to move ahead with developing updated regulations covering conventional drilling since “legislative discussions have not resulted in a viable product….” .

DEP has been reviewing draft conventional drilling regulations with the Council and other groups for the last several months.

Road Dumping Of Drilling Wastewater

Of particular concern are provisions related to legalizing the road dumping of drilling wastewater from conventional operations.

The House removed those provisions before sending the bill to the Governor last year, but they are back again in the new bills.

As a result of a 2017 appeal to the Environmental Hearing Board, DEP’s Oil and Gas Program imposed a moratorium on all road dumping of wastewater from wells in the state in 2018.

However, the dumping of wastewater from oil and gas wells on roads is still authorized under the DEP Waste Management Program under a co-product determination which allows the use of waste that has similar properties to commercial products as if it was that product.

While DEP told the Citizens Advisory Council in January they have no plans to develop a regulation or permit to authorize the road spreading of wastewater from wells, DEP and the Pennsylvania Grade Crude (Oil) Development Advisory Council have been in discussions on the issue most of last year and this year.

Recent research by Penn State and others has shown the road spreading of wastewater from wells as a dust suppressant is not only not effective, but contaminates the roads and wash sediment and pollutants into nearby streams.

There has also been other research pointing to not only environmental but also health impacts from using oil and gas well wastewater for dust control. Click Here for a summary.

Another recent study found that between 1991 and 2017, 240.4 million gallons of wastewater from conventional oil and gas wells were applied to roads, according to DEP records.

A report released by Earthworks in September documented how 380 million barrels of Pennsylvania oil and gas drilling wastewater (conventional and unconventional) was disposed of, including by road dumping.

The annual report of the Crude (Oil) Development Advisory Council contains a special section devoted to the issue of oil and gas production water issues, including the goal of reinstating the road spreading program, leaving no doubt about their political intentions.

Road Dumping Anywhere

The Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment last year released a map showing unpaved roads in Pennsylvania, each of which could become new dumpsites, if the General Assembly passes these legalizing the road dumping of conventional oil and gas drilling wastewater.

The primary areas to be affected would be unpaved dirt and gravel roads anywhere there is conventional oil and gas drilling in the state

http://paenvironmentdaily.blogspot.com/2021/04/ouse-committee-meets-may-4-on-bill-to.html?m=1

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