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Environment & Energy

Lawmaker Wants Moratorium on Deep Injection Wells in Pennsylvania

Now that deep injection wells have been linked to a dramatic increase in earthquakes in Ohio, Colorado, and Oklahoma, a Pennsylvania lawmaker wants a freeze on such wells in the commonwealth. The state has five operating deep injection wells, but many more are proposed.

Deep injection wells shoot gas drilling waste water deep into the ground. Sometimes, the fluid hits a fault and causes an earthquake. Last year, a deep injection well in Clearfield County failed, the fluid leaked, and the EPA shut down the operation. State Representative Camille George (D-Clearfield County) says he's worried about earthquakes and contaminated drinking water supplies.

"There's no amount of gas, no amount of any mineral or anything in the ground that is worth one gallon of water," George said. "Without water you can't have schools, you can't build homes, you can't bring people in with industry, you can't do anything."

George has proposed a two-year moratorium on any new deep
injection well. He said before any new deep disposal wells are drilled in the state, the issue should be studied.

"With all the news that we're getting from Ohio and New York, I firmly believe that much more must be done to protect our most valuable resource, which is water," George said.

George's bill would also create new setbacks, distances of well sites, from known faults, public water supplies, private water wells, flood plains and trout streams.