A deeply biased Rolling Stone propaganda piece, which posted online this week, seeks to scare, instill fear and flatly misinform readers about an Indiana County community where anti-energy activists are waging an unconstitutional battle against a local company’s state- and federally approved proposed operations.
The so-called “story” is long on inflammatory and provably false claims and woefully short on legitimate facts surrounding responsible oil and natural gas development.
Below are five facts that provide a more complete picture of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund’s (CELDF) harmful and highly-coordinated tactics to keep Pennsylvanians from enjoying the benefits tied to abundant American natural gas.
1. Oil and gas operations pose no threat to area waterways, including Little Mahoning Creek, the state-designated high-quality fishery seven miles away from the disposal well. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has called injection wells – in use since the 1930s – “a safe option for the disposal” of wastewater.
2. Grant Township and many neighboring communities in Indiana County have a long history of supporting oil and gas development. PGE’s plan is to convert one of hundreds of existing production wells in the township into a disposal well, and some people in the community have voiced support for the project.
3. Pa. DEP – which enforces one of the nation’s most robust oil and gas regulatory frameworks – spent nearly three years conducting what Gov. Tom Wolf’s top environmental lieutenant, Sec. Patrick McDonnell, called a “thorough review” of this and another injection well permit application before determining in March they “meet all regulations, are sufficient to protect surface water and water supplies, and would abate pollution.”
4. In attempting to cast doubt on Pa. DEP’s enforcement, Rolling Stone cited a shoddy “report” by Public Herald, an activist blog whose anti-energy funders include some of the same groups that support the fringe CELDF, such as the Heinz Endowments.
5. CELDF has taken a failed approach to fighting the legal and responsible development of shale resources that Boston College law professor Kent Greenfield called “flatly unconstitutional.” Courts have consistently struck down CELDF-drafted ordinances in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, leaving local taxpayers to foot massive legal bills.
While this blogger may have made his best effort to redirect the conversation away from the industry’s long and clear record of protecting our environment as well as the health and safety of the communities where we’re privileged to work, invest and create jobs, the fact remains that tightly-regulated, job-creating American natural gas is widely supported by Pennsylvania voters.
It should also not be lost on anyone that CELDF, and its fringe allies including Rolling Stone, are promoting wildly out of the mainstream policies that if enacted nationwide could eliminate 15 million good-paying American jobs, creating immense pain for middle-class families.