Industry advisory group talks brine

Officials with the Department of Environmental Protection have expressed a willingness to develop program guidelines to permit the spreading of oil and gas produced water – or brine – on dirt roads as a dust suppressant.

The issue was discussed during last week’s Pa. Grade Crude Development Advisory Council meeting on Aug. 19.

The council was established through statute in 2016 and is “required to examine and make recommendations regarding existing technical regulations and policies,” according to the Department of Community and Economic Development. The group also consults on new policy and is intended to support the conventional oil and gas industry. Audio of the discussion on produced water was published to the PA Environment Digest Blog.

Kurt Klapkowski, director of DEP’s Bureau of Oil and Gas, said DEP and Penn State are conducting a study that would provide data needed “to be able to defend a program of road spreading that, you know, we would approve under the regulations.”

He acknowledged that the DEP “got sued over the program that we had in place.” That was from a case that originated out of Warren County.

“That’s the reality that we live in,” Klapkowski said. “We have to be able to defend our decisions with data.”

He told the council that data is needed to develop a road spreading program “that would be defensible” in court.

The council was advised that study was supposed to be completed in June but has been pushed back to December due to laboratory issues.

Arthur Stewart, president of Cameron Energy, has a seat on the council as part of the Pennsylvania Grade Crude Oil Coalition, discussed the brine issue during the meeting.

He spoke about the importance of cooperation with DEP.

“There’s a history out there for how effective brine is” on dirt roads, he explained. “We’re spending this time in the laboratory and we’re creating an artificial laboratory setting when we could in fact be looking at the same things in the real world.”

He outlined the possibility of applying brine on a portion of road along with a section of MC-70 and then distributing questionnaires to residents and conducting air testing.

“It’s so tiresome to experience it all the time,” he said, where they are “constantly condemned in the fossil fuel industry… all the while in ignorance” of the industry’s benefits.

He said MC-70 is “mostly kerosene.

“So we’re complaining about using an oil and gas product in the form of free salt water,” he said, instead of a product that is a fossil-fuel based product.

The council agreed to draft a letter to Penn State about the possibility of working together more closely.


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