Although the details are somewhat slim in the newspaper account, the known facts are that Southwestern Energy started construction on a well conductor pipe at a site in Wyalusing Township (Bradford County, PA) in early January, before the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) had given its approval for said construction—something required by law. So the SRBC slapped them with a fine:
Under a settlement agreement between Southwestern and the commission, which was approved by both sides, Southwestern was required to make a $50,000 “payment in lieu of a penalty” to the commission.*
MDN firmly believes drilling companies need to be responsible and follow the rules, especially since the issue of drilling has been so distorted by anti-drilling propaganda. On the other hand, was this just an oversight on Southwestern’s part? Did someone not get the paperwork filed properly? Who knows. It does seem to be a case of “Simon Says” or “Mother May I?” Since the SRBC didn’t give the go-ahead, Southwestern was fined. Now that the paperwork is filed, have they gone ahead with construction at the site? Did the SRBC find any problems with the application once it was reviewed?
So, is SRBC’s action vigilant oversight of the public interest? Or a shakedown? You decide.
*Towanda Daily Review (Mar 24) – Southwestern Energy fined $50,000 for violation in Wyalusing Township