DEP Continues to Block Use of Brine on PA Dirt Roads

Correction: PIOGA contacted MDN to let us know it is only brine from conventional (non-shale) wells that has been allowed to be spread on PA roadways–NOT brine from shale wells. Thanks to PIOGA for letting us know! We have tweaked the story below to reflect the change.

One more way the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is hassling both the PA conventional industry and local towns is via an ongoing embargo against the use of brine–water from the depths that comes out of drilled wells for months and years as the well is producing natural gas. Drillers need to dispose of the brine–it’s an expense. Brine is nothing more than very minerally water. It’s called brine because it’s “salty.” An ongoing beneficial deal was struck by drillers and local towns in years gone by. Towns need a source of water to spread on dirt roads during summer. Drillers have an overabundance of brine. So drillers have been giving their brine to towns, for free. The towns don’t have to pay to buy water, and drillers don’t have to pay to dispose of it. A real win/win. Except a rabid anti from Warren County (no doubt prompted and sponsored by Big Green groups) challenged the arrangement last summer. The challenge was against a DEP policy that allows shale brine to be used by towns. The matter went to the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), a special court set up to hear appeals of DEP decisions. Out of the blue, the DEP slammed the door on allowing towns to use brine, supposedly waiting to see what the EHB decides. The EHB just decided–that the DEP was well within its rights to allow towns to use brine for road spreading. However, the DEP still refuses to lift the ban, using the excuse they’re reviewing the policy even though the EHB says it’s OK. Towns did not budget money to buy water for dirt roads, which they will now have to do. Thanks DEP! You’ve just hosed (pun intended) a number of towns in rural locations with your bureaucratic, rear-end covering excuses…

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