If you think silt fences will hold back the erosion, sedimentation, and landslides caused by pipelines built on steep mountain slopes in West Virginia, think again. Last month, the WV Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a cease and desist order for Energy Transfer Partner’s Rover Pipeline for completely disregarding and violating erosion sedimentation and control measures. The photo evidence tells the story of numerous violations and polluted streams.
When elected officials bow and scrape to the oil and gas industry, they often use the false rhetoric of “job killing” and “burdensome” regulations. Last week, the inappropriately-named Jim Justice, Governor of West Virginia, didn’t even bother with that smokescreen.
According to investigative coverage by the Charleston Gazette, Gov. Justice recently ordered the Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) to kill a requirement that protects residents from the noise and light caused by oil and gas operations.
Despite concluding that oil and gas development waste contain hazardous constituents, EPA exempted it from consideration as hazardous under RCRA and left its regulation to “adequate” state oversight. This report comprehensively examines that oversight, identifies causes of inadequacy, and makes recommendations for improvement.
I once worked at an office with a big sign in the employee kitchen: “Your parents don’t work here. Clean up after yourself.” Some years later when I began to visit gas drilling areas, those words often came to mind. Today, Earthworks released a report detailing the many ways that gas and oil operators—and the regulators charged with overseeing them—appear unwilling to heed this basic request.
Washington, D.C., April 2nd -- A new report shows that states ignore the risks of sometimes hazardous oil and gas waste despite EPA’s exemption of such waste from federal oversight based on “adequate” state management. Wasting Away: Four states’ failure to manage oil and gas waste in the Marcellus and Utica Shale examines how Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York neither regulate oil and gas development wastes as hazardous, nor can assure the public that they are protected from exposure to hazardous waste.
The Marcellus Shale is a deep natural gas reserve running under parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. The Utica Shale is even deeper and larger, covering parts of these states plus Kentucky and Tennessee. For the last several years, the Marcellus has been the focus of a huge boom in exploration and extraction, and more recently activity has also started in the Utica (especially in Ohio and West Virginia). New drilling technologies, like the combination of hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling, have made these deposits—long considered too difficult and expensive to drill—accessible to the industry.
In recent years, natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale has increased dramatically. Since the very beginning of this shale gas boom, water has been a key concern. The issue of water use and pollution due to hydraulic fracturing has been a hot topic amongst environmentalists, industry, and the media, but a comprehensive analysis of water use and disposal for the Marcellus Shale was lacking. Because of this, we took on the task of using publically available data to perform a life cycle analysis of water used for hydraulic fracturing in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
This report can be found here and was summarized on this blog previously.
From our friends at the West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Association:
Interim Committee Advances Marcellus Shale Legislation
Earlier this week, Subcommittee A of the Joint Judiciary Committee advanced a bill establishing a new regulatory program for gas wells utilizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Although the committee advanced the bill without a recommendation for passage by the full legislature, this keeps the bill alive. (You can read more here, here and here.) It also means the legislature will have two comprehensive bills to consider. The DEP has finalized its legislation and acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has signed off on the package (although it will not be a governor's bill and Tomblin did not mention it in the State of the State address).