EIP Report: Anadarko Safety Record Unsuitable For Major Natural Gas Development In Pennsylvania's Loyalsock State Forest

Not a Steward for Pristine Forest: Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Cited for 246 Violations from 2009-2013; Water Pollution Record Ranks 7th Worst Among 600 Operators in Pennsylvania

EIP Report on behalf of Save the Loyalsock Coalition

Feb 06, 2014, 14:33 ET from PennFuture

PITTSBURGH and WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A plan by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation for major drilling and development of natural gas in Pennsylvania's unspoiled Loyalsock State Forest should raise major caution flags given the company's long list of pollution and compliance problems over the last five years, according to a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) discussed today in a telephone press event hosted by PennFuture.

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EIP conducted the analysis of Anadarko's track record on behalf of the Save the Loyalsock Coalition, a group of organizations working to protect the Loyalsock State Forest, including the Appalachian Mountain Club, Audubon Pennsylvania, Keystone Trails Association, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association, PennEnvironment, PennFuture, the Pennsylvania Forest Coalition, the Responsible Drilling Alliance, the Rivertown Coalition for Clean Air and Water, Shale Justice, and the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter.

The EIP report provides hard data to back up the Coalition's concern that Anadarko should not be entrusted with development of the pristine "Clarence Moore Lands" of the Loyalsock State Forest, located in northcentral Pennsylvania.  The Clarence Moore Lands contain some of the most unique and sensitive features of the Loyalsock, such as Rock Run, an "Exceptional Value" stream widely considered to be the most scenic in Pennsylvania, and the 27-mile Old Loggers Path hiking trail.

Adam Kron, attorney and lead report author, EIP said: "Anadarko has the dubious distinction of being Pennsylvania's seventh-worst oil and gas company when it comes to keeping its pollutants out of rivers and streams. The Commonwealth's own data demonstrates this fact. With one of Pennsylvania's most pristine streams at the center of Anadarko's drilling plans, it's hard to see how DCNR could find this to be in the interest of the Commonwealth and its citizens."

Mark Szybist, staff attorney, PennFuture said: "Unconventional gas activities cause significant impacts on people, natural resources, and recreational opportunities even when conducted in strict compliance with the law. This alone should give the DCNR pause as it considers granting Anadarko a right-of-way to drill on the Clarence Moore lands. The fact that Anadarko's activities have resulted in so many discharges of pollution to waters of the Commonwealth – that is a fact the DCNR cannot ignore."

The Hon. Greg Vitali, minority chair, House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Pennsylvania House of Representatives said: "Loyalsock is a Commonwealth treasure. The DCNR should do everything in its power to preserve it to the greatest extent practical. Drilling is a highly industrial activity. Even if Anadarko executed its development plan without violation, it would cause unacceptable degradation to Loyalsock. As this report makes clear, there is no reason to expect Anadarko will do that."

Barbara Jarmoska, vice president and treasurer, Responsible Drilling Alliance said:  "As a property owner, living on land adjacent to the Loyalsock State Forest and bordering an EV designated stream, I am an eye witness to the devastation wrought by the gas industry on Pennsylvania's rural landscape, majestic scenery, and culture.  I ask myself on a regular basis why our government would allow the destruction of this unprecedented natural beauty."

EIP conducted its review of Anadarko's history as an oil and gas operator in Pennsylvania using compliance data, including the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's (PA DEP) Oil and Gas Compliance Report over a five-year period, January 2009 to December 2013.

According to the Oil and Gas Compliance Report, PA DEP conducted 2,928 inspections of 488 wells operated by Anadarko Exploration and Production Onshore, LLC ("Anadarko E&P") between 2009 and 2013. In that same five-year span, PA DEP conducted 72 inspections of facilities operated by Anadarko Marcellus Midstream, LLC ("Anadarko Midstream"). From these inspections, PA DEP identified 246 violations: 207 at Anadarko E&P facilities and 39 at Anadarko Midstream facilities.

Major Anadarko violations included: 87 violations related to discharge of pollutants to waters of Commonwealth; 77 violations for failure to properly store or manage wastes or pollutants; 21 for failure to minimize erosion or stabilize/restore site; 27 for failure to post permit/authorization; 17 well casing violations; nine violations for miscellaneous noncompliance; five incidents of failure to submit or maintain records on site; and three for failure to notify DEP of a pollution incident, which casts a serious shadow of doubt on the company's willingness to take responsibility for illegal discharges, spills and other incidents of pollution that might slip under the radar of state agencies.

EIP report key findings include:

  • For overall number of violations between 2009 and 2013, Anadarko has a top-twenty ranking out of nearly 600 operators, which places it within the top three percent of violators statewide.
  • Anadarko has a history of discharge-related violations out of proportion to its overall violations. More than one out of every three of Anadarko's violations between 2009 and 2013 was due to a discharge to waters of the Commonwealth or a related offense.  During this time period, Anadarko ranked seventh statewide for number of discharge-related violations.
  • Given that the Clarence Moore Lands contain most of the watershed of Rock Run—a pristine, scenic, and "Exceptional Value" water of the Commonwealth—it is hard to reconcile Anadarko's history of discharges with DCNR's duty to ensure that the interest of the Commonwealth be protected and promoted.
  • Anadarko's history of violations should give the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) reason to carefully scrutinize Anadarko's plans for natural gas development in the Clarence Moore Lands of the Loyalsock.
  • The EIP report (and streaming audio of telephone press event) are posted here: http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/news_reports/02_06_2014.php

The Save the Loyalsock Coalition is a group of organizations working to protect the scenic lands and waters of the Loyalsock State Forest from the effects of shale gas development.  Member organizations include: Appalachian Mountain Club; Audubon Pennsylvania; Keystone Trails Association; the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania; the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association; PennEnvironment; PennFuture; the Pennsylvania Forest Coalition; the Responsible Drilling Alliance; the Rivertown Coalition for Clean Air and Water; Shale Justice; and the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter.

The Environmental Integrity Project (http://www.environmentalintegrity.org) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established in March of 2002 by former EPA enforcement attorneys to advocate for effective enforcement of environmental laws. EIP has three goals: 1) to provide objective analyses of how the failure to enforce or implement environmental laws increases pollution and affects public health; 2) to hold federal and state agencies, as well as individual corporations, accountable for failing to enforce or comply with environmental laws; and 3) to help local communities obtain the protection of environmental laws.

CONTACTS: Patrick Mitchell for EIP at (703) 276-3266 or pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com or Elaine Labalme, of PennFuture and for the Save the Loyalsock Coalition at (412) 996-4112 or labalme@pennfuture.org.  

SOURCE PennFuture