John Hanger for Governor, August 07, 2013. See original for links.
Gas well wastewater storage pits are unwanted by people who live near them, and the gas drillers don’t need to use them. Open pits that store toxic gas well wastewater foul the air, heighten the possibility of spills and leaks of the toxic waste, and present hazards to wildlife and domestic animals.
The gas drilling industry has good alternatives to using open pits to store wastewater. Many companies have adopted other practices, especially closed-loop systems that recycle the wastewater for reuse in fracking. In fact, the gas drilling companies that have signed on to the Center for Sustainable Shale Development’s standards have agreed to phase out the use of all gas well wastewater pits by 2015. But some drilling companies still use this outdated and unnecessary way to handle their highly toxic wastewater.
That’s why banning the pits is one important element of my plan to enact world-class drilling standards. I will also maintain the moratorium on leasing more state forestland for gas drilling that I and former DCNR Secretary John Quigley wrote, double the gas drilling enforcement staff, enact an extraction tax, increase permit fees and bonding requirements, ban drilling in environmentally sensitive areas of the Loyalsock State Forest, and restore local government ability to manage the impacts of drilling in their communities.
I know these actions are necessary and I know how to get them done. When I was DEP secretary, I doubled gas drilling oversight staff and significantly strengthened gas drilling regulations. I enacted new regulations requiring drillers to treat gas well wastewater to drinking water standards before discharging it into rivers and streams, modernized gas well construction standards, increased permit fees and more.
I will be a tough regulator. Pennsylvania communities and environment deserve world class drilling standards.