Regional Planning for Marcellus Gas Drilling & Frac Water Disposal

The impacts of Marcellus Shale gas well drilling are likely to be profound.  Presently there is no regulatory agency in Western Pennsylvania or West Virginia which has a handle on it or the authority to adequately control or identify the impacts.  The present situation in PA is a red-flag because it is affecting drinking water. Otherwise it would not have been likely to be noticed by the public and politicians. It may be a new environmental disaster to our waters for the next 20-30 years and could eclipse our acid mine drainage problems. It is clear that the frac technology used in exploiting the Marcellus Shales requires costly disposal of the recovered water loaded with a variety of substances, some of which may have environmental hazards. The question is who should carry the costs and the degree to which additional regulation may be appropriate.

On April 11, 2009 the Pennsylvania DEP announced their "MARCELLUS SHALE WASTEWATER PARTNERSHIP," a permitting strategy for high Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in Wastewater Discharges. Click here for a brief summary and links to details.

The situation is different in Central Pennsylvania. The Susquehanna River is the major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, and to address regional commitments, Pennsylvania has established the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) and given it unusual powers. While they have no direct control over oil and gas drilling, their regulations governing water abstraction and release are a good model for other regions. Not only have they rigorously approached the technical issues, they have also done an excellent job of presenting their regulations and procedures on the Internet. Here is a link to the SRBC Marcellus Shale pages.

News stories related to regional gas exploration, planning and regulation:

DEP Issues Violation Notice to Cabot Oil and Gas -PA-DEP News Release - 23 September 2009

Frack Fluid Spill in Dimock Contaminates Stream, Killing Fish - ProPublica - 21 September 2009

Dunkard Fish Kill 'Substantial' - Morgantown Dominion Post - 15 September 2009

Dunkard Creek Fish Kill Probed - Washington, PA Observer-Reporter - 12 September 2009

Natural Gas Producers Deal with ‘Perfect Storm’
- The State Journal - 13 September 2009

State's Expedited Permits for Gas Drilling Appealed - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - 9 September 2009

Gas Drillers Look to Washington (PA) - Washington, PA Observer-Reporter - 9 September 2009

DEP Developing TMDLs for some Mon Tributaries
- Morgantown Dominion Post - 8 June 2009

Water Leak from Washington County Gas Well Kills Fish - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - 4 June 2009

Energy Industry Lobbies to Avert Drilling Rules - Wall Street Journal - 5 June 2009

State Auditor Addresses DEP's Lack of Violation Tracking System - Morgantown Dominion Post - 27 May 2009

Natural Gas Politics - ProPublica - 26 May 2009

Wastewater Woes: Will DEP’s new Permitting Strategy protect PA waters and health? - (Narrowsburg, NY) The River Reporter - 23 April 2009

WVDEP Releases Draft Shale Drilling Guidance Document - Morgantown Dominion Post - 30 March 2009

Marcellus Shale Tax Finds New Backers - (Washington, PA) Observer-Reporter - 17 March 2009

Marcellus Shale Drilling Issues: Withdrawal, Treatment of Water are Major Concerns in Pennyslvania and Locally - (Dubois, PA) Tri-County Sunday -21 February 2009

New Hazard of Gas Drilling: Flow-Back Water - Narrowsburg, NY River Reporter - 8-14 January 2009

Only Time Will Tell - Editorial - Towanda, PA Daily Review - 22 February 2009

Morgantown Council OKs Water-Quality Resolution - Morgantown Dominion Post - 4 February 2009

Landowners Look to Lawmakers to Protect Mineral Rights - West Virginia Gazette - 7 Feburary 2009

AOP Clearwater to Use Evaporation for Gas Well Drilling Brine - The State Journal - 20 February 2009

WV Chosen for Water Recycling Plant - Morgantown Dominion Post - 17 February 2009

Total Dissolved Solids in Monongahela River Drop Significantly Below State, Federal Limits - PA DEP News Release - 21 January 2009

Marcellus Coming of Age, Says Range Resources - Oil and Gas Journal - 21 January 2009

DEP, Gas Drillers Seek Ways to Dispose of Wastewater - Scranton Times - 14 January 2009

Driller Wants 4 Million Gallons - Centre County, PA Times Daily - 6 January 2009

DEP Probes Blast in GasDrilling Region - Scranton PA Times-Tribune - 3 January 2009

Trans Energy Completes Third Vertical Well in Marcellus Shale - Trans Energy Press Release - 29 December 2008

Gas Drilling Boom Taking Toll On Land - WTAE-TV - 19 December 2008

Bowers Presents Plan of Attack to County Water Task Force - Pocahontas Times - 17 December 2008

Macellus Shale Hits Record Daily Production Rate - Morgantown Dominion Post - 21 December 2008

The Marcellus Shale: Is The Gas Worth the Risk to the Water? - The Highlands Voice - December 2008

Gas Well Drilling Brine Challenges Water Treatment Plants - The State Journal - 15 December 2008

Some PA American Water customers in portions of Fayette dealing with TDS - Connellsville, PA / Fayette County Daily Courier - 13 December 2008

State Concerned About Waste Water From New Gas Wells - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - 21 December 2008

Macellus Shale Hits Record Daily Production Rate - Morgantown Dominion Post - 21 December 2008

Gas Well Drilling Brine Challenges Water Treatment Plants - The State Journal - 15 December 2008

The Marcellus Shale: Is The Gas Worth the Risk to the Water? - The Highlands Voice - December 2008

Gas Firms Looking to Northern Tier to Start Work: Companies turn to PA as NY Revies Rules - Elmira, NY Star Gazette - 8 December 2008

Drill Team: Pennsylvania Needs Smart Rules with Gas Reserves - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - 8 December 2008

Eastern Gas Fuels 'a Little Gold Rush': Drilling rises in Marcellus shale - Charleston Gazette - 29 November 2008

Environmental, Sportsmen's Groups Want Stricter Regulation of Natural Gas Projects - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - 28 November 2008

Marcellus Shale Source of Clean Energy - Morgantown Dominion Post - 28 November 2008

Boom? New gas wealth - Charleston Gazette - 23 November 2008

State Needs to Plan for Gas Well Drilling Brine -The State Journal - 20 November 2008

Drilling companies: Pa. DEP hampering business - Associated Press - 19 November 2008

Natural Gas Rush Stirs Environmental Concerns - Morgantown Dominion Post - 16 November 2008

It's All Part of the Drill: Natural gas drilling has been a boom for some, a bust for others - Washington, PA Observer-Reporter - 16 November 2008

Marcellus Shale also has its Risk - Morgantown Dominion Post - 9 November 2008

New Drilling Efforts Raise Questions - The State Journal - 14 August 2008