State, county elected leaders take proactive steps for banning injection

By Mark Hofmann for The Observer-Reporter newsroom@observer-Reporter.Com 3 min read
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While the application for a proposed injection well in Fayette County may have been withdrawn, county and state leaders are looking for ways to stop similar applications in the future.

After G2 STEM applied for a permit to dispose of fluids associated with oil and gas production into the Balltown Sandstone Formation about 3,400 feet underground in Nicholson Township, state Rep. Charity Grimm Krupa circulated a co-sponsorship memorandum seeking a statewide ban of toxic oil and gas wastewater injection wells.

The Smithfield Republican said soon after her memorandum was circulated, a state senator from across the aisle contacted her about introducing companion legislation Senate.

The legislation, which she hopes to formally introduce next week, would prohibit the state Department of Environmental Protection from issuing any permits or authorizations that would allow for oil and gas waste water to be injected throughout the commonwealth.

“If successful, no community in Pennsylvania has to fight like this on this particular issue,” Krupa said.

Opponents of the injection well application in Nicholson Township – which included residents, elected officials and environmental groups – raised concerns that the waste can contain heavy metals, man-made chemicals and radioactive materials. G2 STEM ultimately withdrew its request for the well earlier this month.

“I’m very, very proud of how the community rallied and responded to this,” Krupa said, attributing the application withdrawal to the collective efforts of those who opposed the well. “In my role, I don’t want this to happen in Nicholson or Springhill (townships) or anywhere in state.”

Krupa’s memorandum cites concerns that those who live in communities where injection wells are placed could face severe consequences in the event of a spill or leakage from the well.

On the county level, Fayette’s commissioners unanimously voted last week to have the county department of planning, zoning and community development and the Fayette County Planning Commission develop an ordinance to limit the sites for injection wells. The goal of the ordinance is to amend the county’s zoning code, and then to have the county work with Fayette’s municipalities that manage their own zoning to achieve similar results.

The efforts of state and county lawmakers were discussed during a Monday community meeting organized by the Mountain Watershed Association (MWA). The MWA had scheduled the meeting before G2 STEM withdrew its application for the well. Despite the application withdrawal, the organization held the meeting so that stakeholders could discuss what steps could be taken to avoid a similar situation in the future.

About 70 people attended either virtually or in person.

Krupa, meanwhile, said she is working diligently on the final language of her bill to protect communities across Pennsylvania.

“The process takes time,” Krupa said. “I’m doing the best I can to push it through.”


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