April 13, 2010
Cumulative Environmental Impacts
of Marcellus Natural Gas Drilling Unknown:
CBF Calls for More Complete Review and Study
(WILLIAMSPORT, PA)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), released this statement following a state House Majority Policy Committee public hearing, held today.
Today's public hearing was held to discuss the environmental issues surrounding the Marcellus Natural Gas Drilling and the impacts to Pennsylvania's waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.
Matt Ehrhart, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director said:
"CBF is very concerned about the cumulative impacts of the drilling in the northern tier of Pennsylvania. This region remains densely forested and is home to some of our most pristine streams; many of which drain directly into the North Branch of the Susquehanna River, the Bay's largest tributary."
Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania State Scientist presented comments to the hearing panel, and said:
"The current pace of permitting by the PA DEP is moving faster than we can evaluate the impacts, with over 5,000 permits projected this year alone. The multitude of well pads, access roads, pipelines and other infrastructure associated with the development can add up to significant cumulative loss of forest cover.
"We believe that DEP should abandon the expedited permit process, and require drilling companies to conduct careful site reviews and pre-application planning to avoid damage to our water and land. Drilling also presents serious challenges regarding the safe disposal of wastewater generated from the hydrofacking process.
"We commend the industry for moving forward with increased recycling and reuse of wastewater to meet these challenges. However, the high volume of drilling anticipated in Pennsylvania in future decades will mean that, even with recycling and reuse, large volumes of highly contaminated wastewater will have to be properly disposed. Strong treatment requirements for wastewater discharged to our rivers and streams must be put in place, and we commend DEP for proposing regulations that would set such standards.
"These environmental challenges and more underscore the need for the state to undertake a comprehensive cumulative analysis of the environmental and quality of life impacts of long term drilling in Pennsylvania."
You can download a copy of CBF's testimony here.