Clean Air Council Seeks Federal Help on Marcellus Air Pollution

by Duane Nichols on June 30, 2012

Edna Molten, Washington County, Pennsylvania

Susan Phillips of StateIm­pact Pennsylvania has reported this story on the blog for National Public Radio and interested readers. Res­i­dents in the vil­lage of Rae, in Wash­ing­ton County, say they have com­plained to the PA DEP of bad odors they think are related to gas drilling. Edna Moten says they’ve been frus­trated by the agency’s response.

The Clean Air Coun­cil says res­i­dents who have con­tacted the PA Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion about gas drilling related air pol­lu­tion inci­dents are frus­trated by the lack of response.  The Coun­cil sent a let­ter to EPA Regional Admin­is­tra­tor Shawn Garvin, ask­ing the EPA to assist the PA DEP. The let­ter from Clean Air Coun­cil exec­u­tive direc­tor Joseph Minott details com­plaints from 13 res­i­dents who expe­ri­enced odors, or wit­nessed “opaque” emissions.

“The Coun­cil dis­cov­ered that in some cases, com­plaints were made to PA DEP and were never fully inves­ti­gated and in other cases, res­i­dents lost faith in PA DEP and stopped report­ing pol­lu­tion com­plaints to them.”

Minott says the Clean Air Coun­cil has since cre­ated its own sys­tem to log shale drilling related com­plaints. The online form includes report­ing on health issues the res­i­dents think might be asso­ci­ated with the odor, or vis­i­ble emis­sion inci­dent. Of those who have filled out the Clean Air Coun­cil sur­vey, 75 per­cent listed health impacts dur­ing the vis­i­ble emis­sions, includ­ing headaches, dizzi­ness and ver­tigo. More than 60 per­cent expe­ri­enced headaches soon after an odor event.

The Clean Air Coun­cil also says it’s tough to even reach the PA DEP to report a complaint.

“Res­i­dents reported that the PA DEP com­plaint tele­phone num­ber has not been work­ing on sev­eral occa­sions in the past 8 months, and res­i­dents and Coun­cil staff have called dur­ing nor­mal busi­ness hours and found that no one answered.”

And to make mat­ters worse, those who did reach the PA DEP, accord­ing to Minott, often described inter­ac­tions with rude and dis­mis­sive field agents.


Julie Archer of the West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization describes their most recent Newsletter. The Summer 2012 edition of Surface Owners’ News is now available.

In this issue:  

  • Details on the Governor’s Marcellus Bill
  • Session 2012 Recap
  • Rejoining Split Estates
  • WV-SORO in the Courts
  • Blocking Well Pads in Flood Plains
  • Inspectors Needed
  • WV Host Farms Program Launches
  • Rally & March in DC July 25 thru 28th
  • Update on EPA’s Hydraulic Fracturing Study
  • EPA’s New Air Rules: What Do They Mean?

Click here to read the newsletter.  

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