On June 12, 2015, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board dismissed an appeal filed by a Washington County landowner who asserted that Range Resources-Appalachia, LLC, polluted his drinking water supply through unconventional gas operations.
Landowner filed an appeal objecting to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)’s determination that the unconventional wells drilling were not the proximate causation of the polluted water supply. The landowner argued that DEP made various errors in reaching its decision based on their method of reporting laboratory results and that DEP was not informed of such pollution until after it made its decision.
In the opinion, the Hearing Board concluded that the landowner “did not demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that a hydrogeological connection exists between his water well and Range’s operations at the [well-site].” The Hearing Board reached this conclusion even though they determined in the Finding of Facts that Range Resources-Appalachia, LLC, failed to report water sampling results to the DEP that may have showed a leak in the impoundment.
Despite established evidence of leaks and spills discovered from 2010 to 2011, and the presence of several chemical components into the water, the Hearing Board, in its Finding of Facts, emphasized that “the consistency of [the landowner]’s water sample results over time indicates that the water quality is attributable to natural conditions, rather than spills or releases related to oil and gas activities.”
Full text of the adjudication can be found at: http://ehb.courtapps.com/public/index.php - docket No. 2011149.
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow
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