In its rush to cast a wide net of blame on the natural gas industry for potential adverse impacts to groundwater in Pennsylvania, the Post-Gazette left a couple of important matters behind in its July 28 editorial stating “DEP must do better” in responding to and reporting the findings of groundwater impact investigations.
The Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association supports the release of information about documented impacts to groundwater from natural gas development and a fact-based discussion on the nature of those impacts and the response by our industry.
Omitted from the editorial about 209 incidents of groundwater impacts during 2007-2012 is the fact that more than 20,000 new wells were drilled in that period — an incident rate of 1 percent.
A separate media report on three groundwater impacts identified in Butler County provides an important glimpse into the state’s investigation and industry’s response and shows why the details of these incidents need to be released and reviewed.
In one case, methane migration — which is a safety concern, not a pollution incident — was resolved in three days. A second incident involved the release of fluids from a faulty impoundment to a spring that took all of one day to resolve, and the third required the installation of a short-term treatment system to remove iron and manganese, naturally occurring metals that can temporarily mix in an aquifer during the drilling process, from a private water supply. That incident was resolved in six days.
In these three instances, the water in question was returned to “pre-drill” conditions in 10 days. These are the types of facts that must be reported objectively when this information is released by the commonwealth.
The Post-Gazette has a civic duty to report all pertinent facts accurately and truthfully rather than defaulting to its obvious anti-industry bias using incendiary adjectives and inappropriate leaps of logic.
LOUIS D. D’AMICO
President and Executive Director
Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association