U.S. Senator Bob Casey (Democrat, Pennsylvania), keeps wanting to get the feds involved in gas drilling in his state, and he looks for any excuse to do so. The latest excuse involves two house explosions in Bradford Township, PA, one on Dec. 12, the other on Feb. 28. Casey claims both explosions are due to natural gas drilling in the area, even though the state police fire marshal is still investigating and has not yet come to that conclusion.
In a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Sen. Casey pins the blame on migrating methane gas from nearby wells.
"The belief that the source of the explosions is some type of thermogenic gas migration caused by extensive drilling appears to be widespread," Casey said in the letter, first reported Tuesday by the Bradford Era.
Casey’s letter detailed not just the house explosions but other "nonresidential incidents" in nearby Mount Jewett Borough and a "well ignition" in the same general area. Nobody was killed in either explosion, though an elderly couple was home and injured in the December blast. The owner of the home that blew up in February was outside and sustained only minor injuries.
"While investigations are ongoing, the initial determinations are that these harrowing incidents were not caused by any gas utility issue," Casey wrote. "Rather, it appears that the gas may have migrated from deep underground during periods of high barometric pressure coupled with seismic activity and extensive new deep drilling activities."
Trooper Greg Agosti, the fire marshal, told the newspaper it was too soon to blame the house explosions on gas or oil well drilling.
"We don’t have enough data that says for sure that gas drilling is at fault," Agosti said, though he acknowledged that remains a key scenario under investigation.
Casey also noted in his letter that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has already held Schreiner Oil & Gas Co. of Massillon, Ohio, responsible for methane gas contamination of residential well water in the same area and said, "The explosion of the two houses in close proximity of this troubled area certainly appears to be more than coincidence … "*
Is migrating methane gas the reason for the explosions? Maybe. It’s certainly not beyond reason to think that it is, if there has already been gas migration in the area. The point is, PA officials can figure it out and handle the situation on their own. It’s not necessary to have the feds come in and take it over, as Casey clearly prefers. He’s repeatedly called for federal regulation of gas drilling which would trample the rights of individual states to manage their own resources and protect their own citizens—something Pennsylvania and other states have done a good job with without the interference of Uncle Sam.
*Beaver County Times/AP (Mar 29, 2011) – Sen. Casey wants feds to help with Pa. explosions