PA Environment Digest
On August 19, Kurt Klapkowski, director of DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas Program Planning and Management, told PA Grade Crude [Oil] The DEP Development Advisory Council seeks to develop the data to advocate the development of a program to allow on-road discharge of drilling wastewater across the state under the new conventional drilling regulations.
This is a reversal of the DEP’s previous position when Scott Perry, deputy oil and gas management, told DEP’s Citizens’ Advisory Council in January 2019. did not note any environmental impact from the l use of brine as a dust suppressant.
This change in DEP’s stance came during the Advisory Board’s discussion of a new study by Penn State researchers to be published in the journal Science of The Total Environment that found that wastewater from oil and gas drilling are much less effective than commercial products at suppressing dust, is easily washed away by roads into nearby streams and fields, and contains pollutants that can harm human health, agriculture and aquatic life. Read more here.
Klapkowski reported to Council that this new study was funded by DEP and is linked to a follow-up study that Penn State is due to complete by year-end on the environmental impacts of conventional drilling wastewater discharge on roads.
“We had regulations in place in 2016 in Chapters 78 and 78a for dust suppression, road stabilization, de-icing, pre-wetting and anti-icing … and we were sued for the program we had. set up on time, ”Klapkowski said.
“We need to be able to defend our decisions with data. And that was the attempt, working with Penn State, this is what we were trying to do was develop that data so that we could have a program that we could go to the Environmental Hearing Board and to the Commonwealth Court and to the Supreme Court under the constitution and under the laws we administer, that would be defensible, ”Klapkowski said.
“I don’t think we would have any objection to working with [PA Grade Crude [Oil] Development Advisory Council]and the legislature to try to find a way to develop this data [to support a road dumping program]”Klapkowski said.” I think we hope the [second Penn State] study we funded and hope to have completed [by the end of the year] will provide data that will allow us to have a program that we can defend in court.
Advisory board members criticized the Penn State study released this week, saying it was a laboratory study and not in the “real world” like other studies conducted by industry groups like the PA Independent Oil and Gas Association and PA. Independent oil producers.
In response to a question from an advisory board member about whether this new Penn State study will prevail over all other studies done by the department, PIPP and PIOGA, Klapkowski said, “No, this certainly will not be. “
“When we try to put these regulations together, we look at the totality of all the information we have,” Klapkowski said. “I mean, that’s it, it’s all good information, so why don’t we look at it and use it?” “
The Council voted to write a letter to Penn State and DEP asking them to include the Council in future research because they felt they were blinded by this study which did not involve them.
Klapkowski said DEP would seek to pass regulations like those proposed in 2016 covering the discharge onto roads of conventional drilling wastewater in Chapter 78, Section 78.70. These treaty settlements were killed by the General Assembly and the DEP was forced to start the rulemaking process all over again. Read more here.
DEP has not included the on-road spill in its current draft Chapter 78 Convention Regulation discussed with the Advisory Board.
In October 2016, the DEP adopted a regulation prohibiting the discharge onto roads of produced wastewater from unconventional oil and gas wells for dust suppression, anti-icing and de-icing.
Following a 2017 appeal to the Environmental Hearing Board, DEP’s oil and gas program imposed a moratorium on all roadside discharges of wastewater from wells in the state in 2018.
However, road discharge of wastewater from oil and gas wells is still permitted under the DEP waste management program under a co-product determination that allows the use of wastes with properties similar to those of commercial products as if it were this product.
Individual co-product determinations are made by the oil and gas driller without review or submission to DEP before they can be used to remove drilling wastewater. A member of the Advisory Board reported that the DEP was starting to request copies of some of the self-determinations, but there was no indication of the number.
This new study from Penn State makes it very clear that wastewater from oil and gas drilling is at least THREE orders of magnitude less effective at dust suppression than other commercial alternatives, which leaves a big hole in the determinations of “Co-products” made by DEP over the years.
Roadside dumping of conventional drilling wastewater is ubiquitous and widespread in the oil and gas areas of Pennsylvania, and as a result, DEP finds it extremely difficult to take coercive action to stop illegal operations. Read more here.
A second new study published last week by researchers at the Technical University of Munich indicates that there is a clear link between exposure to airborne or waterborne particles and several health problems via the breakdown of the mucous system, the body’s first line of defense against infections and toxins. . Read more here.
Residents with landfills on the roads in Pennsylvania have been complaining of various health problems for years. Read more here.
Other recent research by Penn State and others has shown that dumping wastewater from oil and gas wells onto roads as a dust suppressant is not only NOT effective, but contaminates the roads. and carries sediment and pollutants into nearby waterways.
Other research has also highlighted the impacts not only on the environment but also on health of using wastewater from oil and gas wells 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.
The 2019 Annual Report of the Crude (Petroleum) Development Advisory Council contains a special section devoted to the issue of oil and gas production water issues, including the goal of reinstating the highway spill program. , leaving no doubt about their political intentions.
Conventional drillers also backed legislation – House Bill 1144 (Causer-R-Cameron) – that would legalize the discharge of borehole sewage onto roads. House Republicans passed the bill in May and it is now in the Senate. Read more here.
Senate Republicans have their own version of the bill that would do the same – Senate Bill 534 (Hutchinson-R-Venango) – but it has yet to be considered.
Click here to listen to the audio of the August 19 Advisory Council discussion on the discharge of conventional oil and gas wastewater on roads.
For more information and available documents visit DCED PA Grade Crude [Oil] Development Advisory Board webpage. Questions should be directed to Adam Walters, [email protected] or call 717-214-6548.
– New Penn State Study: Shows Wastewater From Oil And Gas Drilling Has Little Dust Suppression Benefit, Contains Pollutants That Are Harmful To Human Health, Agriculture And Aquatic Life
– Penn State study recommends using only non-toxic products or highly treated drilling wastewater to remove radium, oil and metals before road application
– House Republicans pass bill to legalize dumping wastewater from conventional oil and gas wells on roads, overturning environmental protection standards
– 81 groups, 3,342 individuals express their opposition to the bill legalizing the discharge of conventional drilling wastewater on the roads
– Roadside spill of wastewater from oil and gas wells is now happening in Crawford, Erie and Warren counties as House prepares to take the bill this week to make it legal
– Dangers of Oil & Gas Drilling Waste, Abandoned Wells + Siri Lawson’s Story of Warren County
– Save PA’s Forests Coalition: hosts a webinar on August 25 on watersheds and nature threatened by natural gas development
[Posted: August 19, 2021]