Kathleen Kane

September 25, 2013

Pa. well site will be focus of fierce legal battle

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 22, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The Marquardt well site is indistinguishable from most Marcellus Shale drilling locations: It encompasses about five acres of graded farmland, covered with gravel, containing two active natural gas wells.

But this well pad was the scene of a crime, according to state Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office, which on Sept. 10 announced charges against a subsidiary of the oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. for a spill that occurred here in 2010.

Three years ago, the site contained about 50 steel storage tanks, parked side by side, including some that held toxic drilling wastewater to be treated and recycled. The state says that more than 50,000 gallons — about 10 tractor-trailer loads — leaked through an open valve, flowed through a ditch, and polluted an unnamed creek.

Exxon Mobil’s subsidiary, XTO Energy Inc., is mounting a fierce legal and public-relations defense, saying the criminal charges are “unprecedented, baseless, and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion.”

XTO portrays the spill as a minor event — closer to 6,300 gallons leaked — for which it has already made amends, and says there was no lasting environmental damage.

“They cleaned it up pretty quickly,” said Robert Marquardt, the cattle farmer whose fields of corn and alfalfa surround the wells.

He has no beef with XTO. But Kane does.

“The severity, the extent of the spill, was significant in this case,” said Joe Peters, a spokesman for the attorney general.…

September 16, 2013

Shale criminal charges stun drilling industry

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 12, 2013
Posted on: http://fpn.advisen.com<\span>

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s decision to prosecute a major Marcellus Shale natural-gas driller for a 2010 wastewater spill has sent shock waves through the industry.

But environmentalists Wednesday hailed the prosecution of the Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary as a departure from the soft treatment they say the industry has received from Pennsylvania regulators.

“We have been very concerned about enforcement in the Marcellus, and we welcome the attorney general’s taking an active role,” said Myron Arnowitt, Pennsylvania director of Clean Water Action.

Kane’s office announced charges Tuesday against XTO Energy Inc. for discharging more than 50,000 gallons of toxic wastewater from storage tanks at a gas-well site in Lycoming County.

XTO in July settled federal civil charges over the incident by agreeing to pay a $100,000 fine and deploy a plan to improve wastewater-management practices. The consent decree included no admissions of liability.

The Fort Worth, Texas, drilling company, which Exxon acquired in 2010, said it had worked cooperatively with federal and state authorities to clean up the spilled waste, known as “produced water.” XTO excavated and removed 3,000 tons of contaminated soil from the site.…