As the State of Pennsylvania continues to battle with various oil drilling companies regarding environmental violations, fracking sits at the top of list. Comparing the elemental damages to the amount of these proposed fines may mirror a lopsided playing field of sorts. Proponents of the fracking phenomena apparently see nothing wrong with polluting the groundwater contained in nearby streams via mishandled wastewater, thus killing off seemingly countless schools of fish, and rendering otherwise healthy water supplies undrinkable. Many of those who oppose these fracking methods may have stronger legal legs to stand on, as the practice itself has gained some notorious national attention.
The fracking (aka fracturing) process is designed to extract fossil-based energy sources that lie deep beneath the earth’s surface. Drilling is one thing, yet injecting toxic chemicals into the core in order to hit pay-dirt is another. The increased risk of chemical leakage is now clear and present, as literally thousands of drinking water contamination complaints have been filed against subsidiary drilling companies that actually have legal permits to use the Marcellus Shale drilling site; one case in particular involves felony criminal charges that are still pending.
Exxon Mobil Corporation
District Judge James G. Carn ruled that each of the eight charges recently filed against the oil giant were all valid enough to warrant criminal proceedings. Two of these charges included violating the state’s Clean Streams Law and the Solid Waste Management Act.
Exxon Mobil is chiefly being accused of wastewater tank tampering; the removal of a plug from one of their refuse receptacles resulted in 57,000 gallons of the liquid seeping into the soil and subsequently causing harm to local residents and the surrounding strata. Contesting these charges, Exxon Mobil representatives asserted that the spill had “…no lasting environmental impact.”
The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) fined the Texas-based gas and oil company $4.15 million for employing the same illegal practices used by Exxon Mobil, all of which took place between 2009 and 2014. Range Resources repeatedly violated a number of the state’s environmental protection laws, yet the mishandling of wastewater topped the list of many fracking infractions committed at the very same Marcellus Shale drilling site. Even though the imposed fine is the largest in Pennsylvania DEP history, the profits made from these extractions heavily outweigh the penalty amount, which may simply be the price of doing business for big oil.
These two incidents are merely a drop in the bucket when it comes to the fracking boom and its latent functions. Exxon Mobil is the first company to face criminal charges, which may turn out to be a benchmark case to be used as precedent for future criminal fracking violations. Hopefully future companies can learn from their example, and the example of good green practicing companies like Great Canadian which does green roofing in Edmonton. The future will be brighter when businesses can raise the standard of their practices and incorporate more beneficial green works.