Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Oil & Gas Company Challenges DEP Order Relating to Water Supply Contamination

On September 3, 2015, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation filed an appeal before the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board challenging a DEP order that presumes the corporation responsible for the pollution of a water supply in Susquehanna County.

Cabot Corporation began drilling unconventional wells at the site in September 2014. In October 2014, DEP received a complaint that the water supply for a retreat temple had turned orange for approximately one month. After investigation, DEP concluded that Cabot presumably violated section 3218(c)(2) of the 2012 Oil and Gas Act “because the Water Supply is located within 2,500 feet of the unconventional vertical well bore and the pollution occurred within twelve months of the later of completion, drilling, stimulation or alteration of the unconventional Wells.”

As a result, DEP issued an order dated from August 6, 2015, requiring Cabot Corporation to provide an alternative water drinking supply to the retreat temple as well as a plan to permanently restore or replace the polluted water supply.

In the notice of appeal, Cabot Corporation alleged that “[t]he Order is not supported by necessary findings, the findings are not supported by the evidence, and the Order is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, not in accordance with the law, and violates Cabot’s constitutional rights.” As part of its claims, Cabot declared that pre-drilling samples already attested that iron and turbidity were present in the water supply before any drilling operations and, based on section 3218(c)(2) of the 2012 Oil and Gas Act, there is a presumption for responsibility of pollution only if the pollution occurs after drilling.

Further information on the case is available at docket no. 2015-131. 

Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow

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