Archive for the ‘US Energy’ Category

ADP sent the following Forest Watch report to the United States Forest Service (USFS), PA Fish and Boat Commission (PAFBC), the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Seneca Nation:

On August 21, 2010 an Allegheny Defense Project (ADP) Forest Watch Team investigated Oil and Gas drilling projects on Wolf Run Road and FR 370 (off of FR 202 north of Route 346/West Washington Street) in the extreme northeastern portion of the Allegheny National Forest. The drilling

areas we investigated (shown with red bubbles in image on above) are the projects of US Energy Development Corporation, of 2350 N Forest Rd Getzville, NY. This area falls within the Quaker Run Watershed and includes the tributaries of Yeager Brook, Chander Run, and Coon Run. On FR 370 ADP found multiple, flagrant violations in the new oil and gas drilling site—including (but not limited to) the Warrant 4917 Project; Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Well ID 083-53756, 083-53758, 083-53668, 083-53670, and 083-53679. See Map of Drilling Areas Here: http://www.communitywalk.com/location_info/480190/6798502

This area was defined by the USFS as Transitional Environmental Impact Statement (TEIS) Area 1a. The TEIS areas were developed under a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process that the USFS initiated after the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE), Allegheny Defense Project (ADP), and Sierra Club filed a complaint against the USFS in Federal Court (FSEEE et al. v USFS) because the USFS was not applying NEPA to private oil and gas developments on the ANF. The illustration below shows the wells planned by the oil and gas industry (as of Spring 2009), including US Energy, for the northern portion of the ANF. Each green dot in the illustration is one well.

Figure 2 TEIS Area 1, Each Green Dot = 1 Well

The USFS agreed to apply NEPA to private oil and gas developments on the ANF in a settlement between the plaintiffs and the USFS in early 2009. Shortly thereafter, the oil and gas industry filed a complaint in Federal Court against FSEEE, Allegheny Defense Project, the Sierra Club, the Department of Justice, and the USFS, and subsequently requested a preliminary injunction against the settlement reached in our complaint against the USFS (Minard Run Oil et al. v USFS et al.) In December 2009, a Federal Judge granted the request for a Preliminary Injunction, which allows oil and gas drilling to continue on the ANF while Minard Run Oil et al. v USFS et al. works its way through court. In the meantime, FSEEE, Allegheny Defense Project, and Sierra Club appealed the Preliminary Injunction to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. The USFS also appealed the Preliminary Injunction.

Residents and Camp owners in the area of Wolf Run Road have been alarmed at the impact drilling in the Allegheny National Forest is having on the Forest ecosystem and on their enjoyment of their homes and camps. Some of these citizens are primary residents of New York State with recreational properties in the footprint of the ANF. Recently they received letters from US Energy Development Corporation notifying them that US Energy planned to drill in the vicinity of their water wells, springs, and homes.

Along with the letters, came surveyors with stakes, pink ribbons, spray paint, and signs warning families that they soon would be only a few hundred feet from a hazardous waste area.

Concern of the citizens living in the area was also heightened when they learned of the contamination of Yeager Brook from the US Energy drilling in their area. The figures throughout this document show the severe impact of oil and gas drilling on the forested landscape.

The Forest Watch Team investigating FR 370 in the Yeager Brook Watershed documented three unlined fracking pits (see figures below). The unlined pits violate 25 PA Code §78.57(c) 2vi, which requires all fracking pits be impermeable. Further, all pits are required to have sloped sides (25 PA Code §78.57(c) 2v).
The poorly constructed oil and gas roads at this site and others throughout the ANF use local acidic sandstone, which causes sedimentation and acidification of streams and waterways. The conditions in the US Energy Development drilling area in the headwaters of Quaker Run are appalling. Erosion and Sedimentation Controls, for example, have failed or are absent. We witnessed roads and a well site built on springs, and sediment clogging culverts and running off the roads into the tributaries of Quaker Run.

Another very important issue involves the illegal taking of surface water for drilling and fracking activities in this area, throughout the ANF, and across western Pennsylvania. On July 26, 2010, the Allegheny Defense Project sent a certified letter to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary, John Hanger outlining DEP’s illegal practice of authorizing water withdrawals from surface waters, which are governed by Riparian Rights under Pennsylvania Common Law (see Attachment 1). Subsequently, ADP also sent a similar letter to ANF Forest Service Supervisor Leanne Marten (see Attachment 2). During our investigation we witnessed equipment in the US Energy drilling area positioned to take water from Yeager Brook. We also noted and documented the illegal damming of Yeager Brook to create a pool deep enough for their hose to draw water (see figure above). The stream in this area is very shallow, not even wetting the top of one’s boots when standing in the stream (see figure left). The water withdrawals are significant enough in shallow oil and gas well drilling like this one to run streams dry; but the future of the area is very likely to see Marcellus Shale gas drilling which uses millions of gallons of water each time a well is fracked. If this practice is not stopped now, you may find yourself with a much-altered watershed.

The US Energy drilling site also has tank batteries with leaks; permeable tank battery dike walls; inadequate dike volume to contain a spill; and no erosion and sedimentation controls (see figure below). Further, it is likely that these tank battery facilities, which clearly hold more than 1,320 gallons of oil, are also lacking Spill Prevention Containment and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans, which companies are required to develop with the Environmental Protection Agency. ADP is in the process of coordinating a FOIA file review with the ANF for any documents the USDA has relating to these plans.

Please also note that if you multiply the examples cited in text above and illustrated in pictures below by the 12,000 to 15,000 active oil and gas wells and 2,236 miles of oil and gas roads currently on the Allegheny National Forest (plus associated infrastructure of tank batteries, brine and fracking pits, compressors, generators, electric lines, gas lines, etc.) you will be able to understand the intensity of the impact that the oil and gas industry is having in Pennsylvania on our National Forest.

We request that you investigate the violations outlined above and in the pictures below, and the effect that this damaging industrial development is having on the Allegheny National Forest, the Allegheny State Park, and the Quaker Run Watershed. We also insist that the USFS and the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), as riparian owners or downstream riparians, put an end to the illegal withdrawals of surface waters by oil and gas drillers. We request that the USFS, PA Fish and Boat Commission, the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Seneca Nation take all necessary actions to protect the Quaker Run Watershed.

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