Road Dumping Of Oil & Gas Well Wastewater Is Happening Now In Crawford, Erie, Warren Counties As House Prepares To Take Up Bill This Week To Make It Legal

Taken from http://paenvironmentdaily.blogspot.com/2021/05/road-dumping-of-oil-gas-well-wastewater.html?m=1. Please visit the site for much more information on this issue

Witnesses late Friday reported heavy road dumping of oil and gas well wastewater is occurring in southern Warren County and around Oil City in Venango County on back roads off of Route 27.

On Tuesday, witnesses said fresh road dumping of oil and gas well wastewater occurred outside of Corry in Erie County.

The dumping is believed to be wastewater from conventional oil and gas wells.

http://paenvironmentdaily.blogspot.com/2021/05/road-dumping-of-oil-gas-well-wastewater.html?m=1All this is happening now when there is supposed to be a moratorium on road dumping of wastewater as a result of a settlement in a 2017 appeal of DEP’s requirements to the Environmental Hearing Board.  Read more here.

The only road dumping of oil and gas wastewater that is supposed to be happening is under a co-product determination that allows the use of treated waste that has similar properties to commercial products.  Read more here.

A witness said given the volume of road dumping they said is happening now, it is unlikely to all be legal co-product materials.

What Is Road Dumping?

Photos that were part of the 2017-2018 Environmental Hearing Board appeal show the process involved in road dumping. (See photos above from the case with this article.)

Road dumping of oil and gas wastewater on dirt roads involves a vac truck making typically three passes on each section of road using a combination of an open value on the back of the truck and then a blanket pass with a homemade spreader bar that offers no control on the amount of brine spread.

Click Here to see photos from the case.  They were taken by the vac truck operator.

DEP Staff Reductions

DEP’s Oil and Gas Management Program cannot fill an estimated 40 positions– nearly 18 percent of its staff- out of a complement of 226 due to a reduction in revenue from oil and gas drilling permit fees earmarked to fund the program.

These are the staff responsible for enforcing oil and gas drilling-related regulations, including the proper disposal of drilling wastewater.

DEP reported in December it expects a 70 percent decline in revenue from the permit fees this year because of the general downturn in the natural gas industry over the last two years primarily due to natural gas prices.  New fees increases were just effective on August 1, 2020.  Read more here.

House To Move Bill Legalizing Road Dumping

House Republican leadership notified its members Friday they will put House Bill 1144 (Causer-R-Cameron) up for a final vote this week hoping to move it to the Senate quickly.

The bill would not only roll back environmental protection standards for conventional oil and gas wells generally, but would also specifically make road dumping of drilling wastewater legal again. 

Gov. Wolf vetoed similar legislation in November. Read more here.

Opposition

On May 3, the Environmental Defense Fund and the PA Environmental Council wrote to members of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee urging them to vote against House Bill 1144 (Causer-R-Cameron) setting standards for conventional oil and gas drilling because the bill would result in “dramatic reductions to health and environmental protections that are unwarranted and unsafe.”  Read more here.

“Instead of adjusting for true differences between conventional and unconventional operations, House Bill 1144 inappropriately shifts the costs and risks inherent in conventional operations to the citizens of the Commonwealth.”

“While we recognize that low commodity prices have hampered the conventional industry, that challenge is wholly unrelated to protection standards. It certainly does not warrant the unraveling of standards that have been in place, and practiced by both the conventional and unconventional industries, for decades.

“EDF and PEC have continually stated our willingness to come to the table and work with the General Assembly, Administration, and conventional industry to develop an appropriate framework.”

Click Here for a copy of the letter.

On May 4, a letter and petition organized by Berks Gas Truth was sent in anticipation of consideration of the bill by the House Committee.  Read more here.

Although the bill is full of bad provisions, the group focused on the same issue it focused on in the last session when a similar bill, Senate Bill 790, was making its way through the legislature. 

Last year’s bill would have reinstated the practice of road spreading of toxic, radioactive drilling waste on unpaved roads. This year’s bill, and its Senate counterpart, Senate Bill 534, would allow the waste to be spread on paved roads, as well.

Last year, the group presented a letter to the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee the morning of its consideration of Senate Bill 790. The Committee amended the bill to remove the road spreading provision. 

The letter updates and appends that letter to express that much attention has been given to the contents of drilling waste since last year and concerns for potential impacts to water and air quality, human health, and safety have only increased.

“The people spoke clearly last year and the Committee, and ultimately Governor Wolf who vetoed the bill he rightly considered to be a bad bill even without the road spreading provision, heard them. This time, the House is moving this bill very quickly. With only a short time to circulate the letter and petition, we exceeded the number of signatures we’d gathered last time. Let’s face  it, ‘I’d like toxic, radioactive waste to be spread on the roads where I live,’ said no one ever,” said Karen Feridun, Founder of Berks Gas Truth.

CBF Pennsylvania Learning Series: What Lives In PA Waterways, May 26 Webinar

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and partner organizations will host a new Pennsylvania learning Series Webinar– What Lives In PA Waterways— on May 26 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Do you know what lives in our rivers, creeks, and streams in the Keystone State? Pennsylvania is home to some incredible biodiversity, which is why it’s a favorite for anglers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts alike!

Join this roundtable discussion with a few of our very own fishing and stream-health enthusiasts as we talk about the species that call our state home, the importance of stream health, and ways we can improve our impaired waterways, making them better and healthier homes for aquatic species.

Speakers include:

— Derek Eberly – Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

— Brian Gish – CBF staff, Watershed Coordinator

— BJ Small – CBF staff, PA Communications and Media Coordinator

Click Here to register for this free event.

Visit CBF’s Pennsylvania Learning Series webpage for more information on this series.

For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to support their work.

Also visit the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership to learn how you can help clean water grow on trees.

CBF has over 275,000 members in Bay Watershed.

PA Chesapeake Bay Plan

For more information on Pennsylvania’s plan, visit DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Office webpage.

How Clean Is Your Stream?

DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.

Release Fish Not Lures Canpaign

The Pitch It campaign was first started by Keep America Fishing in response to a legislative proposal in Maine to ban all non-biodegradable soft plastic lures.

It was soon expanded to a nationwide anti-litter campaign in which anglers were asked to “Sign the Pledge to Pitch It” to properly dispose of their worn-out soft plastic baits by recycling them or, where recycling wasn’t available, throwing them in the trash rather than in the water. The pledge program generated thousands of signatures and was embraced by tournament fishing organizations like BASS and FLW.

Starting in 2021, the program is being expanded to educate the public on how to retain soft plastic lures while they are being fished. These new and innovative techniques to retain lures, combined with proper disposal once a lure has been used, will help keep our waterways clean and clear and our fisheries healthy.

Professional tournament fishermen and recreational anglers from coast to coast will share their tips and tricks for keeping waterways clean and free of litter – especially used and worn-out soft plastic lures.

For more information and tips, go https://www.pledgetopitchit.org/

Trout Unlimited and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Virtual Event: Introduction To Trout Fishing

Are you or somebody you know interested in trout fishing, but you aren’t sure where to start? Join Trout Unlimited and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers for our FREE “Introduction to Trout Fishing” virtual event. Over three Friday evenings in May, we will cover everything an angler needs to know in order to gear up and find success in pursuit of America’s favorite coldwater fish.

This program is absolutely free, open to anyone of any age, and families are encouraged to join together. Whether you are completely new to fishing, or you are an experienced angler looking for a new way to test your skills, this program will have something for you. Please visit the website to see the full event schedule and to register today.

Event website: https://www.tu.org/get-involved/events/tu-bha-intro-to-trout-fishing/

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

On May 4, Republicans on the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee approved and reported out  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.

The bill was reported out by a largely party-line vote– Republicans and one Democratic member supporting.

The bill now goes to the full House for action.

Gov. Wolf vetoed similar legislation in November [Read more here].

Above article taken from the PA Environmental digest. For more information on the above, go to http://www.paenvironmentdigest.com/newsletter/default.asp?NewsletterArticleID=53060&SubjectID=http://www.paenvironmentdigest.com/newsletter/default.asp?NewsletterArticleID=53060&SubjectID=

Virtual Paddling Safety Information Program

The PFBC is offering a Virtual Paddling Safety Information Program- “Paddling Basics for Beginners”:

WHEN: 5/13/21 (12pm – 1pm)
WHERE: Virtual
REGISTRATION LINK: https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/167226

ABOUT: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go paddling? Now is your opportunity to learn about paddling safety and legal requirements. Join PFBC staff for this FREE virtual program, designed to introduce you to the basics of paddling safety!

TOPICS:
* Where do I start?
* What do I need?
* Life jackets.
* Types of boats.
* What to wear.
* Where to go.

Basics of Fishing (Virtual Program

Basics of Fishing (Virtual Program)- two dates to choose from or attend both!

Pre-registration is required. Use these links to register for your preferred date-

May 26th: https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/168325
June 9th: https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/168326

Program Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Description: Are you interested in fishing but you aren’t sure where to start? This virtual program will cover popular game fish identification, equipment, skills, fishing techniques, and even help you navigate different resources to find a spot to fish near you!

When you pre-register you will receive a link and instructions on how to access this virtual program.

Native Fish Coalition Of PA Urging Fish & Boat Commission To End Stocking Of Nonnative Trout Species Over Wild Native Brook Trout

The Native Fish Coalition of Pennsylvania is urging the Fish and Boat Commission to end the stocking of nonnative trout species and is asking anglers to support an online petition to the Commission on this issue.

Pennsylvania is home to 113 native species and is rich in limestone deposits and springs creating nearly ideal conditions for coldwater species, including the brook trout, Pennsylvania’s official state fish.

The brook trout is one of only two trout, salmon, or charr that are native to the state, along with lake trout, and are said to occupy over 4,000 miles of rivers and streams.

Wild native brook trout populations have been seriously compromised, or lost, from most lakes, ponds, rivers, and large streams in Pennsylvania.  

With the exception of Big Spring, most of the fabled limestone creeks such as Letort and Falling Springs are now all but devoid of wild native brook trout. 

 In many cases, the introduction of nonnative trout, mostly browns, has compromised the native trout. Nonnative rainbows are an issue in some waters as well, and now pose a threat to the wild native brook trout in Big Spring.  

Stocking also poses a threat to wild native fish in Pennsylvania with the Fish and Boat Commission stocking nearly 3.2 million trout in 2020 alone.  Another 1.25 million were stocked by private parties, most of which were stocked in public waterways.

For more information on this issue, visit the Native Fish Coalition of PA’s online petition webpage.

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