HARRISBURG– State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Clearfield County, has announced that his attempt to work with the state Department of Environmental Protection on deep injection well policy has been stifled by the department’s top administrator.
“Last month, I sent a letter to DEP Secretary Mike Krancer, voicing my willingness to work together on this issue,” George said. “The response I received was that Krancer is ‘not convinced that deep well injection presents an issue that the Commonwealth needs to grapple with at this time.’”
Earlier this year, George, who serves as Democratic chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, introduced House Bill 2350, the Injection Well Safe Water Act. The bill calls for stronger environmental protection provisions, setbacks from water sources and geologic fault lines, and a two-year moratorium on any new injection wells drilled in Pennsylvania.
At least eight injection wells exist in Pennsylvania, and an injection well has been proposed in Brady Township, Clearfield County, to dispose of industrial gas drillers’ waste from the Marcellus shale play. Applications across the state are pending.
“This response from the DEP is representative of the Corbett administration’s overall lackadaisical approach to environmental protection,” George said. “Both the governor and I want to see the gas companies do well in Pennsylvania, but we have to do this right – and that means proper and safe disposal of the drilling wastewater.”
Concerns were raised about deep injection wells after several earthquakes occurred in the Youngstown, Ohio area following deep injection well activity there. Geologic fault lines running through the area with deep injection well activity was determined to be a factor in the earthquakes occurring.
“Clearfield County already has injection wells in Bell and Ferguson townships,” George said. “The one proposed in BradyTownship is close to fault lines running right through the area.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a $159,000 settlement with EXCO Resources regarding failed mechanical integrity at the disposal well in Bell Township, after it was determined that the company had failed to comply with federal mechanical integrity standards, placing underground sources of drinking water at risk.
Despite the Corbett administration’s unwillingness to work with him on this issue, George promised to continue pushing for action on HB 2350 during the final months of the legislative session.
“We need to keep pushing, keep fighting for the right to clean water, and we need to keep this issue alive,” George said. “I’ve started a page on my web site,
www.pahouse.com/george/, dedicated to providing information about deep injection wells. As I receive documents, such as the letter from Krancer, I’ll add them to the page.
“I urge people to visit the webpage and learn more about this important issue,” George said. “The time to act is now.”