SB 790 Sign-On
UPDATE! We WON! The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee removed road-spreading of drilling waste from the bill. It will now have to go back to the Senate where they may try to re-insert it, so please sign the letter below. But we also need to fight the remainder of the bill, so please consider signing our new letter that focuses on the many other bad things in SB790.

October XX, 2019
Addresses of Senate Leadership

Dear Senators,
On October 21, the Senate passed SB 790 by a vote of 26 – 23. The vote was held as soon as the bill left the Appropriations Committee and was conducted without debate. The bill is a controversial one with many concerning provisions, including one that allows for the spreading of brine from conventional drilling on unpaved roads as a dust-suppressant. We, the undersigned, are writing to protest your refusal to follow the established process in a rush to get a win for the industry you have come to believe you represent.

Just last year, a team of PennState researchers published a peer-reviewed study that found that “in Pennsylvania from 2008 to 2014, spreading O&G wastewater on roads released over 4 times more radium to the environment (320 millicuries) than O&G wastewater treatment facilities and 200 times more radium than spill events.”

Earlier this year, another study from PSE Healthy Energy that looked at oil and gas waste management from 1991 – 2017 found that about 30 percent of waste came from conventional drilling. Road spreading of waste was first reported in 1995.
PA Environment Digest summarized the findings reported by lead author Lee Ann Hill. “The study found 5,725,353 barrels [240,464,826 gallons] of wastewater from conventional oil and gas wells were applied to roads between 1991 and 2017. 97.9 percent of that waste -- 235,415,065 gallons-- remained in Pennsylvania and was spread on roads.

“In 2017, approximately 193,000 barrels [8.1 million gallons] of wastewater from conventional oil and gas operations were used for road spreading. This accounted for 0.3 percent of all wastewater generated in 2017, according to Hill.”

As you know, the DEP put a moratorium on road-spreading of brine in 2018 as a result of a 2017 Environmental Hearing Board appeal. Then, in May of this year, days after the PSE Healthy Energy study was published, the Pennsylvania Grade Crude Development Advisory Council (CDAC) wrote in its Annual Report , “At public comment at various meetings during the year the presidents of PIOGA and PGCC complained to CDAC about the oil and gas production constraints and the economic hardship suffered as a result of the dwindling number of produced water options.

“Among other things the presidents of the trade organizations called upon CDAC to direct its efforts to the re-initiation of the brine spreading/dust suppression program suspended by the DEP, but which had operated previously for several decades.”

Our state government has a sad tradition of catering to every whim of the natural gas industry. Among the members of CDAC are Senator Hutchinson, a co-sponsor of SB 790, Senator Yudichak, DCED Secretary Dennis Davin, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell, Representative Martin Causer, prime sponsor of HB 1635, a similar measure introduced in the House, and Representative Ryan Bizzarro.

Doing the bidding of the natural gas industry is not your job. You are in Harrisburg to represent the best interests of Pennsylvanians. You are failing us, regularly and miserably. We call on the House to stop both SB 790 and HB 1635. Should they fail to represent our best interests, we call on Governor Wolf to commit to vetoing whichever bill reaches his desk.

Karen Feridun, Kutztown, 19530

cc: House Leadership
Governor Tom Wolf

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