Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer says deep injection wells are not “an issue that the Commonwealth needs to grapple with at this time.” Deep injection wells take fracking waste water and send it deep within crevices of the earth. Only five of these wells are currently operating in the state. Krancer wrote a letter in response to a request by state Rep. Camille Bud George, who has proposed a two-year moratorium on new injection wells. George had written to Secretary Krancer seeking to start a dialog him and his staff about boosting regulations. But Krancer responded that because the federal government has primacy, his staff has a limited role in permitting deep injection wells.
Unlike his territorial battles with the EPA in the past over drilling related concerns, in his letter to Rep. George, Secretary Krancer praised the EPA’s role in oversight of these wells.
“…it is fortunate that both state and federal regulators have over three decades of experience overseeing the practice at tens of thousands of deep injection well sites around the country.”
Krancer told George that he does not favor a moratorium on new wells.The Clearfield County Democrat’s bill, called the Injection Well Safe Water Act, would lengthen the minimum distance from water supplies, and fault lines. It would also expand the DEP’s role in reviewing fault lines and monitoring seismic activity.
One of Rep. George’s main concerns is earthquakes. As natural gas drilling expands, so does the need for deep injection wells. A study released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has connected more earthquakes with deep injection wells.
Rep. George criticized Krancer’s rejection.
“This response from the DEP is representative of the Corbett administration’s overall lackadaisical approach to environmental protection,” Rep. George said. “Both the governor and I want to see the gas companies do well in Pennsylvania, but we have to do this right – and that means proper and safe disposal of the drilling wastewater.”
Several new deep injection wells are in the planning process, one in Brady Township, Clearfield County and two in Warren County. On New Year’s Eve, a deep injection well in Youngstown, Ohio caused an earthquake that registered 4.0 on the richter scale.