Anti-fossil fuelers are once again riding their high horse “demanding” that the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County block any more shale drilling on county-owned property located near Beaver Run Reservoir. Even though CNX’s shale drilling has been going on there since 2011 with zero impacts on the reservoir and its water supply.
Antis are using a recent CNX well problem to push a frack ban in the region. It’s not the first time they’ve pushed for a ban, it’s just that an opportunity has presented itself and you know lefties: “Never let a good crisis go to waste” (Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, page 89).
CNX was fracking their Shaw 1G Utica well in Washington Township (Westmoreland County) near the reservoir on Saturday, Jan. 26, when they detected “a strong drop in pressure” and stopped fracking (see CNX Hits Major Problem Fracking Utica Well Near SWPA Reservoir). Turns out the well was “communicating” (i.e. losing gas to) several nearby conventional wells.
The working theory is that the well has a faulty casing (cement and pipe in the borehole) about a mile down. The casing leaked and the gas found its way via cracks to other wells in the area–some nine nearby conventional wells that had to be flared (see CNX Says Well Casing Issue, Not Fracking, Caused Rogue Utica Well and CNX Rogue Utica Well in SWPA Affects 9 Vertical Wells, Maybe More). CNX hired a well control company to “kill” the Shaw 1G well.
Several weeks ago in a revised 2019 guidance slide deck CNX revealed they will spend $30 million on the Shaw pad this year, including remediation costs (see CNX Faulty Utica Well in SWPA Will Cost Company $30M+). They will permanently plug Shaw 1G, but no decisions have yet be made on whether or not they will finish fracking the other three wells on the same pad.
Just to add insult to injury, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection sent CNX a “notice of violation” for the accident, which is a notice warning CNX they will have to fork over tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of dollars in fines once this is all over and done.
Using the the Shaw 1G “crisis” as an excuse, so-called environmentalists pressured Westmoreland officials on Friday:
Environmentalists on Friday demanded board members of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County halt deep well gas drilling at the agency’s Beaver Run Reservoir property in Washington and Bell townships.
The plea came nearly two months after a well at the reservoir property malfunctioned when a drop in pressure at one of the Utica wells operated by CNX Resources prompted drilling to be temporarily halted. The problem well eventually was capped, but drilling is expected to continue at the site, officials said.
“We want you to request the (Department of Environmental Protection) to stop drilling, fracking and refracking at Beaver Run,” said Dr. Cynthia Walter of Hempfield. “If you do not publicly oppose such risky activities near our water, the MAWC board — that’s you people — will be considered willfully negligent.”
Authority officials said the incident did not impact the public drinking supply.
The state environmental agency last month issued a notice of violations against CNX related to the Beaver Run incident. The state’s investigation is ongoing.
CNX leases property at the reservoir site, where 52 wells have been drilled. The authority last year earned more than $3.8 million in royalties from gas collected from the reservoir property wells and at other locations owned by the utility.
Drilling opponents maintain the fracking activity is a continuing danger to the public water supply.
Jan Kiefer of Scottdale told authority members the activity is likely to result in toxins that could impact the water supply. The pressure anomaly that resulted in the well breach in January is just one of many potential risks, he said.
“It was completely foreseen,” Kiefer said.
Authority officials said legal contracts with energy companies prevent the authority from halting the drilling activity.
“Our primary responsibility is to monitor the activity, and all the sampling indicates normal water quality in and around the reservoir,” authority business manager Brian Hohman said.
Officials said they will continue to monitor the drilling activity to ensure CNX is in compliance with regulations said.*
Westmoreland has tested the water in the reservoir every two days since 2012, increasing it to daily during the recent “crisis.” And still nothing. After all that time. Even with an “accident” like the Shaw 1G. No contamination from fracking of any kind–methane, chemical…NOTHING. And yet these loons “demand” that all drilling stop. We DEMAND they quit being so stupid! (We’re not holding our breath.)
*Pittsburgh (PA) Tribune-Review (Mar 8, 2019) – Residents want gas drilling to stop at Beaver Run Reservoir
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