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  • Allison Stalker

EPA Requests Information from Natural Gas Drillers

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

As the requirement for natural gas as an alternative fuel source increases, natural gas drilling operations are taking off, especially in Pennsylvania. However, some scientists are worried about the negative effects these operations can have on drinking water and overall water quality. Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) asked drillers to stop taking the wastewater from these operations to Pennsylvania wastewater treatment plants by May 19th.

In response to this request, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has directed six natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania to disclose how and where they will now dispose of wastewater. The companies include Atlas Resources LLC, Talisman Energy USA, Range Resources – Appalachia LLC, Cabot Gas and Oil Corporation, SWEPI LP, and Chesapeake Energy Corporation. These six companies are required to report back to the EPA by May 25th.

In order to obtain all applicable information, the EPA has also requested aid from the PADEP including:

  • Notify to the EPA when facilities are accepting hydraulic fracturing wastewater

  • Apply water quality standards for the protection of drinking water at the point of wastewater discharge, rather than further downstream

  • Consider more “representative” sampling where drinking water facilities are downstream of treatment plants accepting Marcellus Shale gas wastewater

  • Be aware that the EPA has sent a letter to the southwest regional office of the PADEP stating that Federal Underground Injection Control permits are required for any placement of hydraulic fracturing wastes in injection wells or bore holes.

While EPA has taken this action to avoid harmful effects from fracking, there are still so many questions left unanswered on these effects. The science is lagging behind the technology, and without strict regulations in place, these harmful effects may already be taking place. Natural gas is one answer to alternative energy needs; however we should more fully understand the environmental, health and safety impacts of these drilling projects before going further down that road.

To learn more about hydraulic fracturing in the Mid-Atlantic region, click here.

To read the EPA release, click here.

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