Anadarko Settles Criminal Case, Pays $53K for Killing Salamanders

When was the last time you heard of someone indicted on criminal charges and instead of doing time in jail, they just paid money? While some crimes involve fines, they always involve jail, or probation, or some form confinement/punishment other than just paying money. At least that’s what we always thought. But if you’re part of the Gestapo, otherwise known as the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, apparently the rules don’t apply. People in the AG’s office can accuse you of a crime, then shake you down for money, and give that money away to anyone they want. That’s what just happened with Anadarko. As we recently reported (see Anadarko Indicted for Killing 165 Salamanders in Lycoming County), in February 2015 a storage tank at an Anadarko well pad leaked. Approximately 1,000 gallons of produced water leaked out of the tank and into a drainage ditch (i.e. “unnamed tributary”), ending up in a local creek where it killed 169 (or 165, depending on the source) salamanders. It was an accident. However, the Environmental Crimes Unit of the PA Attorney General’s office hauled Anadarko and their contractor into court, charging them with environmental crimes. In order to make it all go away quickly, Anadarko and the contractor settled, paying $53,078. The kicker is this: the bulk of the fine money doesn’t even go to the state of PA. Instead, $40,000 of the fine money goes to a private non-profit organization–the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy. Nothing against the Conservancy and good work they do, but this is wrong…

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