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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

DEP: Oil and gas operations damaged water supplies 209 times since end of ’07

"Oil and gas operations have damaged Pennsylvania water supplies 209 times since the end of 2007,** according to official determinations compiled by the Department of Environmental Protection that the agency is preparing to release for the first time. State environmental regulators are planning to post the information on DEP’s website this month, but an early version of the spreadsheet was provided to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in response to an open records request. The spreadsheet lists the 209 affected water supplies by county, municipality and the date regulators concluded that activities related to oil or gas extraction were to blame for contaminating or diminishing the flow to a water source. The document does not disclose property owners’ names or addresses and it does not detail which companies that were deemed responsible for the damage, what caused the disruptions or what pollutants were found in the water.

DEP’s deputy secretary for oil and gas management, Scott Perry, said the agency intends to enhance the spreadsheet by adding links to the letters or orders related to each case at some point, which should reveal more information about how water was affected. Environmental regulators are required by law to determine within 45 days of getting a drilling-related water complaint if oil and gas operations contaminated a water supply or reduced its flow. DEP reports its findings in letters to property owners. It also issues orders to companies to fix the damage in cases where oil and gas operations are found to be accountable or are presumed to be the cause because of the proximity between drilling activities and a disrupted groundwater source. Those conclusions are public records."

State map showing impact:

Note: The areas where the damage is worst is where the industry has been the longest. As the drilling increases in WPA, we will see Bradford, PA-like results here, and they have plans to "carpet-drill" the entire state. Where residents have fought back in other states, the drilling activity has been stopped, along with the damage. There are other ways to feed our appetite for cheap energy...where there's a will in America, we always find a way. Our leaders need the will to do more than enrich the stakeholders of the oil and gas industry...or our children will hold us responsible for our lack of action.

**And how many waterways were affected without reports filed to the DEP....? This is likely the tip of the iceberg.