OH Antis Attack Loudonville for Selling Water to Cabot for Drilling

Little red dot indicates where Loudonville, OH is located

At the Loudonville Village Council meeting on Monday, a dozen anti-drilling kooks “assailed” Mayor Steve Stricklen and council members over selling water to Cabot Oil & Gas to use in drilling (not fracking) several test wells in the area. Cabot is exploring north central Ohio as a potential spot for “what’s next” after their wildly successful Marcellus drilling program in Susquehanna County, PA. In typical fashion, lies and fearmongering were used in an attempt to shame Loudonville officials over water sales to Cabot. Loudonville sits on the border of Ashland and Homles counties. The village sells water to anyone who wants to buy, for 0.65 cents per gallon (a little over half a cent per gallon). So far Cabot has purchased 650,000 gallons from the village ($4,358). One of the antis said she’s fearful Cabot will dump the used fracking wastewater “contaminated by chemicals” in nearby Charles Mill Lake. It’s an outrageous and scurrilous allegation. We’ve personally seen Cabot’s first-rate wastewater recycling center in Susquehanna County. They recycle 100% of the wastewater coming out of the ground. But antis don’t bother to check on the facts–not when any old lying allegation will do…
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Antis Fight Plan to Convert 2 Class II Injection Wells in OH to Class I

In 2013, Buckeye Brine, a relatively young Ohio-based company, added a second shale wastewater injection well in Coshocton County (see Buckeye Brine Adds Second Injection Well, Business Expands Rapidly). Buckeye later added a third injection well. After an oil or gas well is drilled and fracked, wastewater from fracking flows back out for a week or two. After that, over time (years in most cases) naturally occurring water from deep underground continues to flow. That naturally occurring water contains a lot of dissolved minerals in it, making it much “saltier” than even ocean water–hence the term brine. Buckeye Brine has operated their three Class II (as they are known) injection wells “flawlessly” for the past five years. No earthquakes. No spills. No leaks back to the surface. Nothing. Buckeye now wants to re-designate two of the three wells as Class I wells, which would allow them to accept non-shale wastewater–from industrial equipment operators, soap manufacturers, food processors, power plants, and municipal wastewater treatment plants. The new wastewater sources for a Class I well are considered “nonhazardous.” However, so-called environmental groups are opposing the change from Class II to Class I…
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WV DEP Holds Hearing on Proposed Injection Well in Upshur Co.

Mountain V Oil and Gas owns a Marcellus Shale well drilled in 2014 in Upshur County, WV that was a bust. You don’t often hear about Marcellus wells that don’t produce. Because their Marcellus well is a non-producer, Mountain V wants to convert it into a wastewater injection well. The neighbors are not happy about it. The WV Dept. of Environmental Protection held a public hearing last week about the proposal. Twelve local residents spoke at the hearing–every one of them against the project. No one spoke in favor. Is that really a surprise? The comments made at the hearing referred to the potential for earthquakes and pollution of the water table. Here’s what the good (but misinformed) residents of Upshur don’t understand about injection wells: (1) There are hundreds of thousands of them across the country, and have been for decades. (2) The wastewater (brine) going down the proposed injection well first came up from the same deep sources–we’re just putting it back where it came from. (3) If the well is properly cased, and rest assured these wells are heavily regulated and regularly checked, there is no way for the wastewater to seep back up to the surface. The water was down there for millennia and didn’t make its way to the surface, so why would it now? (4) Earthquakes can happen, but only when massive amounts of fluids are injected into an existing fault, or crack, in the rock layers. Earthquakes from injection wells, at least in the northeast, are as rare as hen’s teeth. Look, in all honesty, we wouldn’t be overly thrilled with an injection well locating near us either. However, if you’re going to object, as a first step you need to get your facts straight. Here’s more about last week’s hearing and the lack of facts (and wild statements) that circulated at that meeting…
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Clearfield County Still Looking for Way to Stop Injection Well

It’s been seven long years since Windfall Oil and Gas first floated a plan to drill a shale wastewater injection well near Dubois, in Brady Township (Clearfield County), PA. After all that time, the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally approved the project in March of this year (see PA DEP Approves Wastewater Injection Well in Clearfield Count). Residents who live near the proposed injection well have opposed the plan from the beginning. The Clearfield County Board of Commissioners is also opposed. In April, several residents filed an appeal of the DEP decision to approve the project to the Environmental Hearing Board, a special court set up to hear appeals of DEP decisions (see Clearfield County, PA Residents to Appeal Injection Well Approval). The appeal may take up to two years. In the meantime, the well is likely to get built anyway. Recognizing the well is coming, Clearfield Commissioners held a public hearing yesterday to strategize how they might still block the project, and barring that, how they will live with it if the project becomes reality…
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DEP Continues to Block Use of Shale 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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Penn Twp About to Adopt Meaningless (?) Injection Well Ban

Last November we updated you on a lawsuit filed by a group of anti-fossil fuelers in Penn Township (Westmoreland County), PA (see Penn Twp Ninny Nannies File Lawsuit to Block Apex, H&H Wells). A group calling themselves Protect PT, backed with money and legal help from Big Green group PennFuture, filed a lawsuit to try and stop Apex Energy and Huntley & Huntley (H&H) from drilling wells in the township. The lawsuit finally made it to a county judge who heard testimony in April (see Penn Twp Antis Try to Use PA ERA to Block Shale Drilling). The peril with Protect PT’s lawsuit is that it uses Pennsylvania’s so-called Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA), which liberal PA judges have, in recent years, breathed new life into. The argument is that fracking denies those who live near this temporary activity their “right” to enjoy Mom Nature, therefore it should be banished forever. Protect PT is attempting to pull off a total frack ban in the Penn Township. Meanwhile, Protect PT is working on a parallel effort. They’ve convinced (pressured, bullied) the town board to adopt an injection well ordinance that essentially bans injection wells in the town. Here’s the thing: Nobody has even whispered the hint of wanting to locate a wastewater injection well in Penn Township–ever. It is a meaningless gesture–unless you consider that Protect PT calls the injection well ordinance a “victory” and (our inference) if they can get this injection well ordinance passed, then maybe they can get a more restrictive drilling ordinance passed too. That is, the injection well ordinance is the back door to getting a wider frack ban enacted by a now-susceptible and weakened town board…
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EQT Continues to Fight PA DEP Fine re Wastewater Impoundment

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court (an appeals court) heard oral arguments over how to prove whether contaminants in the soil have moved into groundwater. The case dates back to 2014 when the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) slapped EQT with a $4.53 million fine for a leaky wastewater impoundment in Tioga County (see PA DEP Levies Biggest Fine Ever, $4.5M Against EQT). EQT did not say there wasn’t a problem with leaks at the site, but they did say the way the DEP calculated the fine was unreasonable and arbitrary. EQT appealed the fine and the case all the way to the PA Supreme Court, and in early April the Supremes ruled in favor of EQT, saying that the DEP’s levied fine was excessive and that the DEP misinterpreted language in the 1937 Clean Streams Law (see PA Supreme Court Axes DEP $4.5M Fine in EQT Tioga Wastewater Leak). We thought (mistakenly) that was the end of the case. But it’s not. The Supremes ruled on “water to water” contamination in the case, but not on ground to water contamination. PA law allows for companies to be on the hook for each day a contaminant enters the water table. What lawyers argued this week was whether or not, and how, the DEP can prove contaminants in the ground, there because of EQT’s leak, can be proven to have leached into the water on any given day. DEP is calculating a revised $1.1 million fine based on assumptions about how many days the contaminants leaked out of the ground. EQT is forcing DEP to use more than just spitball estimates in calculating the fine…
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Univ of Cincinnati Utica Groundwater Study Finally Published!

From January 2012 to February 2015, researchers from the University of Cincinnati collected 180 groundwater samples in Eastern Ohio, from water wells located close to Utica Shale drilling activity. In early 2016, the lead researcher shared some high level results from the study. The preliminary results showed that fracking in areas where there are water wells doesn’t affect those wells (see Antis Not Happy with Results of OH Fracking Study They Funded). Two anti-drilling groups were the primary funders of the study–Deer Creek Foundation in St. Louis and the Alice Weston foundation from Cincinnati. The two groups immediately cut their funding when they heard results they believe they didn’t pay for (see Anti Groups Abruptly Cut Funding for OH Fracking Study). Since that time, no more of the study’s results have been released, for over two years! That is, until now. The full peer-reviewed study, titled “Monitoring concentration and isotopic composition of methane in groundwater in the Utica Shale hydraulic fracturing region of Ohio,” was published last week in the scientific journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. Summing up the results of the full study in the words of the researchers themselves: “We found no relationship between CH4 [methane] concentration or source in groundwater and proximity to active gas well sites.” And, “…our data do not indicate any intrusion of high conductivity fracking fluids as the number of fracking wells increased in the region.” Finally! An honest study using Big Green money, that Big Green tried to cover up and silence, is now available for the whole world to see…
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EPA Launches Study to Dispose Frack Wastewater in Lakes, Rivers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week announced it has launched a study into the possibility of treating oil and gas wastewater and (gasp) releasing the cleaned-up wastewater into lakes and rivers, instead of injecting it back down holes in the ground. The EPA is seeking “input” from everyone–the industry and Big Green–to help guide their research efforts. The truth is wastewater from oil and gas wells is far less toxic than the stuff leaching out of landfills and the waste from chemical plants. But you never hear that said out loud by Big Green supporters. We’ve personally spoken with people at several companies that recycle and clean shale wastewater who say such cleanup is easy compared to cleaning up other types of wastewater. Why shouldn’t the EPA look to at least study it–and perhaps even encourage it?…
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Seneca Resources Wastewater Recycling Plant Largest in PA

A few years ago Seneca Resources (wholly-owned drilling subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company) purchased a wastewater treatment facility at the McKean County Landfill and began using it to recycle Seneca’s brine (wastewater). The operation was renamed Highland Field Services and now handles all of the “sourcing, handling and recycling of fluids associated with the Seneca’s Appalachian development program.” Because of the facility, last year Seneca was able to recycle 100% of it’s brine/wastewater, and because of that, some 75% of all the fluids Seneca used in their 2017 drilling activities came from the Highland facility. Put another way, Seneca had to acquire and use fresh water sources for only 25% of all the water they needed to drill and frack–far less fresh water was needed in Seneca’s operations last year than in previous years. Not only did the Highland facility handle 100% of Seneca’s wastewater, it also handled wastewater for other drillers too–a total of 7.9 million barrels between Seneca and other drillers, making Highland the largest oil and gas wastewater recycling facility in PA…
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Another Look at Aborted Coudersport Wastewater Treatment Plant

MDN previously reported on a promising brine wastewater treatment plant planned for Coudersport, PA by Epiphany Water Solutions. After JKLM Energy walked away from the project, in pretty short order the Coundersport Area Municipal Authority (CAMA) voted to revoke agreements it had with the project, which recently led us to declare the project dead (see Planned Potter County Frack Wastewater Treatment Facility is Dead). A local newspaper editor penned what is one of the most thoughtful, reasoned editorials we’ve seen in the fracking debate–about the Epiphany project’s demise. The editor says when you clear away the inflammatory verbal clutter surrounding the project, if the technology is sound and produces water from wastewater that is “clean enough to drink,” that’s laudable and “still worth pursuing.” The editor encourages Epiphany to find another location in PA for this much-needed project. Here’s an common sense editorial worth reading…
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Planned Potter County Frack Wastewater Treatment Facility is Dead

Those who once supported a cutting-edge technology wastewater treatment plant, proposed by Epiphany Water Solutions for Coudersport, PA, are now running away from the project as fast as they can. First was JKLM, the primary (only) customer for the project–the main reason for the project. As we told you on Monday, JKLM, which was rumored to also be the main financial backer, said they are no longer interested (see JKLM Pulls Support of Planned Potter County Wastewater Facility). Now comes the news that the Coundersport Area Municipal Authority (CAMA), which operates the local sewage treatment plant that was going to take the distilled water from the proposed Epiphany plant (clean enough to drink) and discharge it into the Allegheny River, has just voted to rescind the permits and contract they had with Epiphany. With friends like these…
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Clearfield County, PA Residents to Appeal Injection Well Approval

We suppose it was bound to happen. Several weeks ago MDN told you that the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) had given final approval to Windfall Oil and Gas to drill a wastewater injection well near Dubois, in Brady Township (Clearfield County), PA (see PA DEP Approves Wastewater Injection Well in Clearfield Count). Residents who live near the proposed injection well have opposed the plan from the beginning. They are now pledging to take the next step. What is that step? To appeal the DEP’s approval to the special court set up in PA to hear appeals of DEP decisions–called the Environmental Hearing Board. Clearfield County Commissioners are aiding residents in their fight against the injection well. However, the county and its residents are not putting all their hope in overturning the DEP approval. They’re also making backup plans in case the well is drilled–by testing water wells in the vicinity now, and by making “emergency plans” for the future–whatever that means…
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Trumbull Co. Residents Rally to Oppose 3 New Injection Wells

Town of Brookfield – Trumbull County, OH

Last December MDN told you about three proposed new injection wells planned for the Town of Brookfield, in Trumbull County, OH (see 3 More Injection Wells Coming to Trumbull County, OH). Highland Field Services (subsidiary of Seneca Resources/National Fuel Gas Company) brought two new injection wells online in Brookfield last year. Shortly after the two wells went online, Highland then floated a plan to build three more wells in close proximity to the existing two, a plan opposed by many in the town. Even though Brookfield Township trustees issued a “no more injection wells” letter to Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR), the ODNR ignored the letter and two weeks ago issued the necessary permits to build the three additional new wells (see ODNR Grants Permits for 3 New Injection Wells in Trumbull County). Last Thursday a group of town residents staged a rally against the three new injection wells. Do they have valid concerns?…
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JKLM Pulls Support of Planned Potter County Wastewater Facility

It’s always disappointing when our side backs down from a fight–especially when the other side is demonstrably lying. On Friday afternoon JKLM, the drilling company founded by Terry Pegula (owner of the Buffalo “Marcellus” Bills), announced it is no longer interested in processing brine (wastewater) from shale wells the company drills in Potter County at a proposed shale wastewater treatment plant in Coudersport, PA (see Shale Wastewater Treatment Plant Planned for Potter County, PA). The cutting-edge technology plant, proposed by Epiphany Water Solutions, was opposed by folks who, frankly, lied about it. The lies got so bad that lawyers for Epiphany (and JKLM) recently warned them to stop their lying (see Opponents Slandering Potter Co. Wastewater Facility Legally Warned). JKLM would have been the primary customer for the facility. On Friday, JKLM issued a short statement (below) to say they are no longer interested. We’re guessing they’ve pulled out because of the negative publicity, which is too bad, because it teaches antis that if they make enough noise and enlist lying media to aid them, they can shut down important projects like this one. Is this the end of the Epiphany project–at least in Potter County? JKLM was the primary customer AND financial backer. You do the math…
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Opponents Slandering Potter Co. Wastewater Facility Legally Warned

Is it free speech to make “false, destructive and defamatory statements” about a company and the project it proposes to build? Is it OK to pretend to be a news organization when you’re really just a shill for Big Green groups, and is your “speech” protected–when it’s false? Members of the Seneca Indian tribe and faux news outlet Public Herald have been put on notice, legally, by lawyers representing the proposed Epiphany shale wastewater recycling facility in Coudersport (Potter County, PA) and driller JKLM to “cease and desist” from their slandering, smearing false statements about the Epiphany project–statements that are misleading the public. Those served the legal notice say it’s an attempt to silence their free speech rights. What do you think?…
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