1,000 signatures reached
To: DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell
Keep ALL Oil & Gas Wastewater Off Our Roads!
More than 2.2 million gallons of toxic, radioactive oil & gas drilling wastewater were spread on PA roads between 2018 when the DEP declared a moratorium on the practice and the end of 2020. A ban of the spreading of fracking wastewater in 2016 has been effective in stopping road spreading of unconventional wastewater, but conventional drillers are using a loophole called Coproduct Determination to continue spreading their waste legally in spite of the moratorium. The conventional drillers' industry association PIOGA states very clearly that conventional drillers now frack and that some even use horizontal drilling. The only difference now is that conventional wells are drilled in limestone layers that sit atop the shale. Studies have shown, however, that there is a relationship between the limestone layers and the shale rock below and that, in some cases, higher levels of concerning chemicals have been found in the limestone layers than in the shale rock. The threats to public health and the environment are too grave to allow this further road spreading. It's time to ban ALL road spreading.
Why is this important?
When the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Oil and Gas division put a moratorium on road spreading in 2018, conventional drillers turned to a different arm of the agency, the Bureau of Waste Management, to find a loophole that would allow them to keep spreading toxic, radioactive drilling wastewater on unpaved roads in PA.
The loophole is called Coproduct Determination. Owners of any waste product can legally make determinations that their waste is essentially a product capable of performing the same function a commercially-available product performs. And then they can start using it. At no time are they required to tell the DEP.
Should the DEP find out and request a copy of the determination report, the waste owner must provide a copy. In early 2021, for the first time since drillers started availing themselves of the loophole, the Bureau of Waste Management requested determination reports from 17 drillers.
The Better Path Coalition requested copies of the reports and put together our own list of companies reporting road spreading in the DEP's Oil & Gas Waste Report. We came up with 29 companies. DEP provided copies of 8 reports that included one that wasn't on our list because the company had not reported road spreading after the moratorium.
What we found in the so-called determination reports was alarming. Not one driller came close to doing a proper determination following guidance laid out in 25 PA Code Section 287.8. Some just turned in random lab tests. Others submitted reports filled with extraneous information.
When we tried to do our own tracking of the waste, we found the DEP's reporting system to be seriously flawed and missing critically important information.
We chronicled all of this in our new brief, The Moratorium Morass. You can read it here, https://www.betterpathcoalition.org/betterpathbriefs.
Public health and the environment won't be protected until there's an outright ban on spreading dangerous drilling waste!