XTO Energy withdraws permit to build gas well near Lake Arthur



XTO Energy has withdrawn a permit for a controversial Marcellus Shale gas well a half-mile from Moraine State Park in Butler County.

Two environmental organizations, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Save Lake Arthur Watershed, challenged the company’s plan to drill at a site straddling two sensitive watersheds, saying the state Department of Environmental Protection had failed to adequately assess the risk to surface and ground water that the Franklin Township well posed.

The DEP had approved a site permit and an erosion and sediment permit for the well a mile from Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park and within the watershed of Shannon Run, a state designated “High Quality Cold Water Fishery” that flows into Lake Arthur, and Mulligan Run, another Cold Water Fishery stream that feeds Connoquenessing Creek.

Maya van Rossum, of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, said the groups appealed the permits because the DEP had failed to consider the “natural, scenic and aesthetic values of our environment” and was concerned about “the dangerous precedent” that would set.

Connie Fleeger, a leader of the Save Lake Arthur Watershed organization, said the groups appealed DEP’s permit approvals because the department didn’t properly review the company’s stream antidegradation plan or the cumulative impacts of the gas well, which also would have been located less than 1,000 feet from private water wells.

As the appeal hearing before the state Environmental Hearing Board approached, XTO withdrew its erosion and sediment permit application, and the DEP canceled its approval of the permit. John Poister, a DEP spokesman, said XTO, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, notified the department it was withdrawing from its permit on Aug. 19 for the well in Franklin Township, Butler County.

“[The DEP] realized the permit wasn’t fully filled out, and the permit was a faulty permit,” Ms. Fleeger said. “After DEP withdrew its approval of the erosion and sediment plan, XTO withdrew from the site permit.”

She said she expects the company will reapply for new permits for the well.

Don Hopey: dhopey@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1983.

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