More Details On New York Regulators' Attempt To Fine A PA Drilling Site

  • Scott Detrow

As we noted earlier this week, New York environmental regulators are levying a $187,500 fine against Buffalo-based U.S. Energy, for allegedly polluting a major trout stream.
The twist:  the natural gas wells in question are located in Pennsylvania, not New York.
The Albany Times-Union takes a look at the issue:

Investigations by DEC and the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation — conducted in August 2010, November 2010, September and December 2011, and this month — found the company’s roads upstream were covered in thick, heavy mud that was being washed by rain into the brook.
Located about 60 miles southeast of Buffalo, the 65,000-acre park attracts more than 1.8 million visitors annually. A designated trout stream, Yeager Brook was rendered “cloudy and gray” because of the pollution, according to DEC.
“This enforcement action should provide a strong deterrent to other oil and gas well operators in New York and neighboring states whose operations impact New York’s natural resources,” said DEC Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel Steven Russo. “We will not allow U.S. Energy’s actions in Pennsylvania to negatively impact New York’s waters.”

The company tells the paper it will appeal the fine, since its operations are regulated by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, not New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
In fact, DEP did levy a $200,000 fine against U.S. Energy back in 2009.
An important note: the wells in question here do use hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas, but they’re the much smaller vertical wells – not the horizontal operations most people associate with fracking.

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