Water at Risk: In response to Marcellus Shale Coalition
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FracTracker Alliance thanks the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) for amplifying the reach of “Water at Risk,” our recent digital atlas exploring the impacts the oil and gas development in the Lycoming Creek watershed. In a way, their contorted rebuttals in the PA Environment Digest Blog and Marcellus Drilling News help increase awareness of the disconcerting scale of unconventional oil and gas activity on both public and private lands in this bucolic part of Pennsylvania. Disseminating our insights to the max furthers our mission, and fuels our passion.
While the MSC accuses us of lying about fracking realities, their disingenuous methods misrepresent available data, and demonstrate poor reading comprehension skills. For example, the MSC claims the average Marcellus well uses five to ten million gallons of water during the completion process. This is an outdated statistic. Based on self-reported data from the industry’s hydraulic fracturing fluid registry, FracFocus, the average amount of water used to stimulate wells in the Lycoming Creek watershed in 2020 was 17,512,356 gallons. The MSC also claims that FracTracker believes the average well uses 1.21 billion gallons of water. This fantastical figure was conjured out of thin air by MSC via creative interpretations of our report.
The FracTracker report specifically states that 592 wells had been proposed in the watershed and 384 drilled, but, in another example of twisted accounting, the MSC says: “It seems even basic math eludes the FracTracker Alliance [sic]. They claim the watershed is home to 592 wells while publicly available data shows there are actually 417 wells within the watershed.” FracTracker’s data came straight from the PA DEP. If MSC has records of another 33, drilled, unconventional wells in the watershed, both the DEP and we would like to know.
The MSC suggests the industry has a 97% statewide compliance record and complains that many violations on the DEP website are duplicative. If the latter is true, that seems like a gripe they should direct at the DEP. If the former is true, then we suppose everyone should ignore the more than 634 violations in the Lycoming watershed since 2008, or the 17,220 violations assessed to unconventional well sites statewide since 2005. Accidents happen. Mistakes occur . . . again, and again. The repetition is exhausting, like reading the litany of fabrications and diatribes in the narratives of the MSC and Marcellus Drilling News.
The data sources used in Water at Risk are linked in the report and listed in the “Details” section of each map.
Feature image of FracTracker Brook Lenker documenting oil and gas infrastructure in the Lycoming Creek watershed. Dick Martin, 2021. Photo courtesy of FracTracker Alliance.
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