Attorney General of Pennsylvania Using Grand Jury to Investigate Shale Drilling Activities

by Duane Nichols on March 27, 2019

In 2014, the fracking industry was also under investigation, for example

KDKA Investigates: State Grand Jury Probing Shale Gas Industry

From an Article of KDKA Broadcasting, Pittsburgh, March 25, 2019

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Marcellus Shale drilling industry has had a positive economic impact on the region, but for some people who live near gas well sites, their calm lives have been turned upside down.

Back in 2010, KDKA introduced you to June Chappel of Hopewell, Washington County, who says her life became a nightmare when shale gas drillers moved in next door. “It was criminal what they did to us,” she said then.

Chappel told KDKA the drilling rig meant round-the-clock pounding and truck traffic, coupled with massive flares that lit the night. Worse perhaps was a fracking pond filled with chemical-laced frack water to blast the shale below.

The pond is gone now, but Chappel says she’s still haunted by the night its liner caught fire. “I was absolutely terrified here. I thought we were going to be just blown to smithereens,” she said.

Over the past decade, shale gas exploration has made some landowners rich and brought employment and economic energy to parts of Washington and Greene counties.

But others like Chappel says it has shattered their once peaceful existence and left residual scars. “Now I’m left with loud hissing in my ears that has never stopped for 10 years now, and it just… it makes me pretty darn mad,” she said.

Now, Attorney General Josh Shapiro has taken up their cause, presenting witnesses like Chappel in front of grand jury investigating the shale gas industry. Shapiro’s office will neither confirm nor deny the existence of a grand jury but KDKA’s Andy Sheehan has learned that state agents have interviewed several others who have complained of disruptions to their lives and environmental damage in their towns.

While Chappel testified in January about her experiences with the shale gas exploration company, Range Resources, indications are the grand jury probe is broader than just one company. Still, Range defended its environmental record in a statement, saying it has used best practices in minimizing impacts, including chemical disclosure and water recycling.

“We firmly stand by our corporate philosophy to be a good steward of the environment and the communities where we live and work,” the statement said in part.

Normally, the shale gas industry is regulated by the state Environmental Protection Agency, but Shapiro has the power to file criminal charges.

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