General Information on Water Quality Issues Related to Gas Drilling & Production

You might think that pollution from oil and gas drilling would be regulated under our general water protection acts, but our Congress and the Federal administration have granted the industry significant exemptions. Earthworks has prepared a summary of the legal situation as "The Oil and Gas Industry's Exclusions and Exemptions to Major Environmental Statutes" Click on to read or print it.

On 23 December 2009 the New York City (NYC) Department of Environmental Protection called for complete prohibition on gas and oil drilling in the New York City Watershed. NYC is a "special case" in that the City is supplied with unfiltered water through a hundred mile tunnel network underlain by the Marcellus Shale. The 90 page report Impact Assessment of Natural Gas Production in the New York City Water Supply Watershed by Hazen and Sawyer, Environmental Engineers & Scientists, on which their action was based includes a lot of information on potential leakages as well as information on the Marcellus Play. Click here to access the report as a 9.1 Meg .PDF file

The Venture Engineering - Blog has some detailed information on brine treatment in a post entitled "Marcellus Shale Play – Water Treatment Options Worth Considering"

Drill for Natural Gas, Pollute Water - Scientific American - 17 November 2008

OGAP Report on the Marcellus Shale - Scranton Times Tribune Reader Blog - 25 June 2008

Preliminary Report on Stray Natural Gas Migration Associated with Oil and Gas Wells - Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Oil and Gas Management - October (?) 2009

During the 150-year span since the first commercial oil well was drilled in 1859, hundreds of thousands of gas and oil wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania. The potential exists for natural gas to migrate from the well bore (via either improperly constructed or old, deteriorated  wells) and adversely affect water supplies, as well as accumulate within or adjacent to structures such as residences and businesses. Collectively, this may represent a threat to public health, safety and welfare, and is a potential threat of a fire or explosion. This 15 page document (a 440 Kbyte .PDF format file) summarizes over 60 cases, most since 2000.

Regulation in West Virginia

West Virginia has no water quality regulations specifically devoted to the Marcellus play. In fact, there is only one permit governing water used in any gas well drilling. This is Permit Number: GP-WV-1-07, the General Permit for the Land Application of Water Produced from Coalbed Methane Wells. This set of regulations was just renewed in December 2009.

We have four .PDF files of material related to the renewal.

We note that during the renewal process portions of the regulations were strengthened in response to public comments.