State allows bankrupt Chesapeake to drill new wells

Earthworks calls upon DEP to put public first, revoke permits

June 29 — Data retrieved today from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) website indicates DEP is allowing Chesapeake Energy to drill new wells, including two today in Susquehanna County. This new activity comes despite the company’s bankruptcy filing yesterday, and after State Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s Grand Jury report last week revealed DEP oversight of the oil and gas industry has systemically failed to protect public health and the environment from fracking companies like Chesapeake.

While not specifically named in the report, Chesapeake was among the first operators to cause significant, verified damage to Pennsylvanians’ water supplies. Before the company’s bankruptcy, AG Shapiro was pressuring Chesapeake to pay outstanding royalties and other monies it owed Pennsylvanians.

The state of Pennsylvania faces a significant abandoned and orphaned oil and gas well problem with the prospect of many more operators walking away from their responsibility to safely plug these too often dangerous wells. It is not currently illegal for the state to permit bankrupt companies to drill new oil or gas wells–but doing so poses additional risk in pollution clean up costs that the public would be left to bear.

“After the Attorney General showed us that DEP routinely failed to protect the public from fracking companies, DEP should be more cautious particularly with bankrupt, serial violators such as Chesapeake. DEP should also revoke the three permits issued to Chesapeake on June 16, 2020 that have not yet been drilled in Auburn Township, Susquehanna County and Windham Township, Wyoming County.

A wave of oil and gas bankruptcies is on the horizon. Unless DEP puts the public first, fracking companies are going to continue to pollute Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvanians are going to pay the cleanup bill because failed companies like Chesapeake cannot.” — Earthworks PA/OH Field Advocate Leann Leiter

FOR MORE INFORMATION