Marcellus Shale Drilling–let’s make PA the Texas of the Gas Boom
Or so says Governor Tom Corbett. He is expediting this process by granting ultimate power to the Secretary of Community and Economic Development; a post now filled by a Coal Executive, C. Alan Walker. Should Mr. Walker feel that the PADEP or other agencies are slowing Marcellus Development; he is granted authority to override any of their decisions.
Who is C. Alan Walker? Well, Walker is the CEO and owner of a large coal and gas company (Bradford Energy Company and Bradford Coal) as well has having interests in a dozen other companies, including a Central PA Oil and Gas company. He is also the largest benefactor of Corbett–donating $164,000 to his campaign efforts since 2006. His reward? He gets to rewrite environmental policy where Big Gas is concerned. This man is no friend to the Susquehanna; in 2002; he informed PADEP that three of his companies had run out of monies and were going to stop treating the 173 million gallons of wastewater they generated each year and dumped into the river.
To quote an article from Pro Publica regarding this issue:
In the budget Corbett says drilling will bring Pennsylvania 200,000 jobs and $18 billion in economic benefit by the end of the decade. But the drilling industry’s explosive growth has also caused environmental problems and the budget raises questions about whether the DEP—which could lose nearly 20 percent of its funding—will be able to address them.
Private water wells have been contaminated with methane gas and other pollutants across the state, and in many cases the DEP has found that hasty or insufficient gas well construction was to blame. Several drilling site accidents have led to spills where wastewater, including from hydraulic fracturing, contaminated streams.
These drilling operations generate large volumes of wastewater. This wastewater can contain harmful levels materials such as: metals, radium and other radionuclides, hydrocarbons, and drilling chemical compounds. We do not have the infrastructure in place to adequately accept and treat large volumes of heavily-contaminated drilling wastewater. In fact, truckloads of this dangerous wastewater are even now being dumped in sewage treatment plants and ultimately into the Susquehanna River.
Do we really trust that this ‘gas boom’ is not going to pollute the river more: scores of people get their bathing, cooking, and drinking water from the Susquehanna River; not to mention the other life in and around it as well. To put this much power into the hands of an individual who is at best ambivalent to the cleanliness of the river seems to say that the Governor does not care either.