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INDUSTRY FOCUS


But in the long run, the best insurance is to use best practices, avoid negligence and undertake a pre-operational sampling pro- cess. Everyone involved in injection well drilling or converting an existing well to injection operations should collect a water sample at appropriate depths before the injection well is operated. Pota- ble water aquifers typically exist at depths shallower than 1,000 feet below the surface; beyond that, it’s difficult to find potable water as determined from a total dissolved solids perspective. Most produced fluids injection zones in Pennsylvania probably are more than 4,000 feet below surface, so you should have at least 3,000 feet of solid rock (with impermeable seals) between the point of injection and drinking water. A pre-drill water sample is one way of protecting yourself and establishing a baseline for the public to see what existed before injection activities.


MQ: How can we help the community understand the need for UIC wells and alleviate concerns about them?


Rodiek: Neither the public nor the gas development industry wants groundwater to be polluted. They also don’t want seismic events. These are legitimate concerns. But opponents to gas de- velopment sometimes introduce frivolous issues in the permitting process as leverage against shale development, ignoring good science and engineering. That slows the permitting process and ends up hurting the very things people are trying to protect.


Right now, for example, it takes up to three years to get these wells permitted, at a very high cost. The MSC would like to see a more rational process that allows for permits to be granted in a shorter period of time. The EPA has argued in public ven- ues that the process is defined by existing statutes and regula- tions. There are mandated reviews at multiple stages, appeals processes and vetting of appeals by an environmental appeals board. Moreover, anyone can introduce an objection at any time in the process, necessitating review of that claim.


The MSC wants to initiate a public policy forum for all inter- ested stakeholders to discuss the issues. This would be an open dialogue that educates folks about best practices and airs public concerns about produced fluid handling and dis- posal. The coalition also will help sponsor a series of indus- try training sessions to demonstrate best practices to each sector of the industry. We need full disclosure. Let’s own up to incidents that have occurred and pledge to do a better job—always. Adoption of best practices and routine stake- holder engagement will increase public trust in our industry.


Neither the public nor the gas develop- ment industry wants groundwater to be polluted. They also don’t want seismic events. These are legitimate concerns. But opponents to gas development sometimes introduce frivolous issues in the permitting process as leverage against shale development, ignoring good science and engineering. That


slows the permitting process and ends up hurting the very things people are trying to protect.


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Marcellus Quarterly 2014


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