SWEPI Auctioning 189K PA/NY Conventional Acres, 1,500 Active Wells

SWEPI, formerly known as Shell Western E&P Inc., is the North American land-based drilling arm of giant Royal Dutch Shell. SWEPI has an active drilling program in the Marcellus/Utica region. Some of that active program has traditionally been in shallow, or conventional (not shale) drilling. Using a broker, SWEPI has put up a mammoth 189,000 acres of its conventional/shallow leases and wells for sale by auction. The leases and some 1,500 active oil and gas wells are located in Forest, Elk, McKean, and Warren counties in Pennsylvania, and Cattaraugus County in New York. The sale includes shallow rights (not shale rights) only. SWEPI claims there are another 10,000 potential well locations. Here’s the details…
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2 New Injection Wells Proposed for Warren, PA – EPA Reviewing

In early 2013, Bear Lake Properties in Warren County, PA (near the New York border) opened a new injection well to accept Marcellus Shale wastewater (see NW PA Frack Wastewater Injection Well Begins Operation). The new injection well faced stiff opposition. Columbus Township, where the well is located, originally passed and later rescinded a ban on injection wells under threat of lawsuit (see Columbus Twp, PA Ban on Injection Wells Rescinded). A few local residents tried to pressure the federal EPA, the agency that permits and oversees all injection wells, into reconsidering their approval (see Local Residents Protest 2 Wastewater Injection Wells in NW PA). In the end the EPA granted the permit. Since then, local residents have been testing just about every water source in the county to be sure the injection well isn’t leaking (see Concerned Citizens Test Water Near NWPA Injection Well, No Leaks). Good news: two more injection wells for Warren County are now going through the process of EPA reviews…
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Concerned Citizens Test Water Near NWPA Injection Well, No Leaks

In early 2013 Bear Lake Properties in Warren County, PA (near the New York border) opened a new injection well to accept Marcellus Shale wastewater (see NW PA Frack Wastewater Injection Well Begins Operation). The new injection well faced stiff opposition. Columbus Township, where the well is located, originally passed and later rescinded a ban on injection wells under threat of lawsuit (see Columbus Twp, PA Ban on Injection Wells Rescinded). A few local residents tried to pressure the federal EPA, the agency that permits and oversees all injection wells, into reconsidering their approval (see Local Residents Protest 2 Wastewater Injection Wells in NW PA). Finally, anti-drilling group Clean Water Action tried to get the EPA to reverse their decision (see Anti-Drillers Go After EPA on PA Injection Wells Approvals). In the end, it didn’t matter. The EPA reviewed and re-reviewed and said the location and construction for the well is safe. Since that time, a group of local citizens began and have continued testing every well, pond, creek, swamp and mud puddle anywhere close to the injection well, looking for evidence that the well is leaking. Guess what they’ve found? Nothing…
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WTC Upgrades Warren, PA Plant, Accept Marcellus Wastewater Again?

We’re returning to a story we last wrote about over a year ago. In October 2013 MDN told you the radical national anti-drilling organization Clean Water Action (CWA) had sued a small Pennsylvania company by the name of Waste Treatment Corporation (WTC) in Warren, PA in federal court claiming the company continued to accept, treat and discharge Marcellus drilling wastewater into the Allegheny River (see CWA Sues/Accuses Waste Treatment Corp of Continued Shale Pollution). WTC was supposed to have stopped that practice two years earlier, in 2011, after then-Secretary of the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), Michael Krancer, got all such operations to cease and desist. Responses to the CWA lawsuit from both the WTC and the DEP raised more questions than they answered for us (see Waste Treatment, PA DEP Respond to CWA Lawsuit). In September 2014, CWA announced they had reached a settlement of the case with WTC agreeing to immediately stop accepting/discharging Marcellus wastewater (even though they say they don’t), install expensive new equipment, and then restart accepting Marcellus wastewater processing again (see CWA v Waste Treatment Corp Wastewater Discharge Lawsuit Settled). The new news is that WTC has installed the aforementioned new technology, news that we get from a press release from the company that sold them the technology. What we don’t know is when, or if, WTC will once again begin to accept Marcellus Shale wastewater at the plant…
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EPA Fines PA Gas Plants for Accidents that Haven’t Yet Happened

Minority ReportIt’s something straight out of the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has fined the owner of five Pennsylvania natural gas processing plants and one West Virginia plant (six plants total) $50,221 for spills and leaks at the plants–that never happened. The EPA says Elkhorn Gas Processing hasn’t done enough to prevent such incidents from potentially happening, and therefore the EPA is shaking them down and making them pay for possible future violations. Perhaps it’s more like The Godfather than the Minority Report? Talk about an abuse of power! Do you need any further evidence that the Obama EPA is totally out of control?…
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CWA v Waste Treatment Corp Wastewater Discharge Lawsuit Settled

lawsuitIn October of last year MDN told you the radical national anti-drilling organization Clean Water Action (CWA) had sued a small Pennsylvania company by the name of Waste Treatment Corporation (WTC) in Warren, PA in federal court claiming the company continued to accept, treat and discharge Marcellus drilling wastewater into the Allegheny River (see CWA Sues/Accuses Waste Treatment Corp of Continued Shale Pollution). WTC was supposed to have stopped that practice two years earlier, in 2011, after then-Secretary of the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), Michael Krancer, got all such operations to cease and desist. Responses to the CWA lawsuit from both the WTC and the DEP raised more questions than they answered for us (see Waste Treatment, PA DEP Respond to CWA Lawsuit). Since last year, the lawsuit has been quiet–at least publicly. Yesterday CWA announced they’ve reached a settlement of the case with WTC agreeing to immediately stop accepting/discharging Marcellus wastewater (even though they say they don’t), install expensive new equipment over the next 8 months, and then restart accepting Marcellus wastewater processing again…
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Utica Shale Drilling Ripple Effect in Northern Part of Play

Just because you don’t see a drilling rig and holes being drilled in the ground, it doesn’t mean Utica Shale drilling isn’t having enormous, positive economic benefits in a community. So says Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber officials. They point to the hundreds of permanent new jobs at area manufacturers–jobs created and sustained directly by the drilling industry.

More on the Utica supply chain and how it’s benefiting areas that haven’t (yet) seen their own Utica wells drilled…
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PA DEP Consent Decree Against Waste Treatment’s Warren Plant

A month ago MDN told you a lawsuit had been filed by anti-drilling Clean Water Action (CWA) against the municipal sewage treatment plant in Warren, PA operated by Waste Treatment Corporation. The lawsuit claimed the Warren plant, based on testing of the Allegheny River, continues to process and dump treated frack wastewater into the river (see CWA Sues/Accuses Waste Treatment Corp of Continued Shale Pollution). A day after that story broke, both Waste Treatment and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection responded and said that no, the plant does not and has not treated shale frack wastewater since 2011 (see Waste Treatment, PA DEP Respond to CWA Lawsuit).

However, as we said at the time, the fact that the DEP had also (quietly) filed their own lawsuit against Waste Treatment raises more questions than it answers. We now begin to get some of those answers. Yesterday, the DEP announced a “Proposed Consent Decree” with Waste Treatment that will reduce the amount of total dissolved solids it releases into the Allegheny River. The (important) question remains: If the effluent from the Warren plant is not coming from processing shale fracking wastewater, where is it coming from? What is the source of this super-salty wastewater that’s being processed by this plant?…
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Penn State Gives Warren County Some Hard Truth, Hope re Drilling

Warren County, PA, located in the northwestern part of the state, is not in the “sweet spot” for Marcellus/Utica Shale drilling. That was the blunt (but kindly delivered) message from two Penn State Marcellus Education Team educators at a meeting yesterday at the Warren Public Library.

Warren County does have a few Utica wells: 12 permitted with 5 already drilled or being drilled right now. However, widespread drilling will not come to Warren in the near future. Question: Will it ever come to Warren? Answer…
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Waste Treatment, PA DEP Respond to CWA Lawsuit

Yesterday MDN told you about a wastewater treatment plant in Warren, PA that has been sued by Clean Water Action with claims the plant continues to receive, process and dump frack wastewater into the Allegheny River (see CWA Sues/Accuses Waste Treatment Corp of Continued Shale Pollution). Waste Treatment Corporation’s Warren operation was supposed to have stopped that practice in May 2011. The lawsuit says it’s still happening, based on the results of tests from last year by the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Both Waste Treatment Corp. and the PA DEP have responded with statements addressing the CWA allegations and lawsuit. Waste Treatment says they did stop processing Marcellus Shale wastewater in 2011. The PA DEP says the agency filed its own lawsuit against Waste Treatment in September of this year. Frankly, it’s not at all clear to MDN what the real facts are in this case–yet. After reading the responses, we have more questions than answers…
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CWA Sues/Accuses Waste Treatment Corp of Continued Shale Pollution

Is a municipal waste treatment facility in Warren County, PA (northwestern part of the state) still accepting and treating Marcellus Shale frack wastewater that is polluting the Allegheny River? That is the very serious charge made in a federal lawsuit filed yesterday by the radical anti-drilling organization Clean Water Action (CWA). Waste Treatment Corporation’s facility near Warren was supposed to have stopped receiving frack wastewater from Marcellus Shale drilling in May 2011, after a deal was made with then-Dept. of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer (see PA DEP, Marcellus Shale Coalition Admit Drilling Wastewater Likely Contaminating Drinking Water). According to CWA, Waste Treatment continues to accept Marcellus frack wastewater, process it and dump it into the Allegheny, thereby polluting it. The Allegheny is the source of drinking water for Pittsburgh and other municipalities.

The CWA also charges that the PA DEP knows about said dumping and is sitting on its hands, attempting to work out a new deal rather than shut the plant down or otherwise pull their permits to get them to stop…
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Final Appeal? Court Says Drilling in Allegheny Natl Forest Legal

When the federal government digs in its heels and is intent on obstructing justice, it can take a long time to remedy via the courts. But (sometimes) justice does prevail in the end. We now have–hopefully–a final resolution in the ongoing series of cases known as Minard Run Oil v. United States Forest Service. We wrote about this case back in 2011, but it goes back much further, to 2009 (see Drillers Sue US Govt over Allegheny National Forest Delays). As a brief background, the federal government purchased a number of parcels of land in 1923 that became the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) in northwestern Pennsylvania. However, the government did not purchase the mineral rights under most of the land–seems that back in 1923 the government didn’t just print the money it wanted (“quantitative easing” anyone?).

Even though they don’t own the mineral rights, in 2009 the U.S. Forest Service (federal agency managing the ANF) entered into what was an illegal out of court settlement with environmentalist groups stipulating that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) will govern all oil and gas drilling in the ANF. It effectively shut down any new drilling in the forest, denying private citizens the ability to benefit from their private property (mineral) rights. The drilling industry sued and the case has now gone through three appeals. The most recent appeal was heard by the federal U.S. Court of Appeals Third Circuit. The court ruled, once again, in favor of private property rights…
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“Enviro” Group Sues Wastewater Company, Alleges Illegal Dumping

Clean Water Action (CWA), an anti-drilling, anti-fossil fuel 501(c)(4) non-profit group is using money from the war chest of its big liberal donors to sue a legitimate, small, private business. In a press release yesterday, CWA announced they’re filing a lawsuit against Waste Treatment Corporation, alleging WTC is illegally discharging oil and gas drilling wastewater into the Allegheny River in violation of Pennsylvania state regulations. But wait–isn’t it the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) job to monitor and punish wrongdoers who break  the rules? Yep. But that doesn’t stop out-of-control groups like the CWA.

WTC says they are operating according to the letter of the law and have violated no DEP regulations…
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Marcellus Permits Nearly Double in Warren County, PA

Over the past decade, 11 permits for horizontal Marcellus Shale drilling have been issued in Warren County, PA: Range Resources got 6 of those permits, PA General Energy got 4 of them, and Hunt Marcellus Operating received 1 permit.

The number of permits has now almost doubled in Warren. SWEPI LP recently received 10 permits to drill—all of them for the Hook Run Farm in Mead Township.

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