WEST CHESTER April 17, 2024 – State Senator Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks), chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee, and Senator Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester), minority chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, co-hosted a virtual public hearing today on the environmental and public health impacts associated with spreading oil and gas wastewater on Pennsylvania roadways. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection declared a moratorium on spraying produced water from conventional wells onto roadways in Pennsylvania in 2018. However, despite that moratorium, reports cited at today’s hearing indicate that companies disposed of over 3.5 million gallons of toxic, radioactive drilling wastewater on Pennsylvania roads since 2018.

“The looting and polluting of Pennsylvania really needs to stop – we need government leaders to take the issues of environmental protection and public health seriously and to stop allowing industry profits to drive policy decisions in Harrisburg,” Muth said. “As we heard today, the spreading of toxic, radioactive oil and gas wastewater has no benefit and only causes harm to our roadways, our environment, and Pennsylvania residents.”

The current moratorium on road spreading contains a dangerous loophole that an outright ban would close – companies are allowed to make a coproduct self-determination that allows well owners/operators to self-determine the brine as a coproduct that is safe and has a beneficial use on the roadways. Senator Muth has introduced two bills that would effectively ban road spreading of oil and gas waste by closing the state’s hazardous waste loopholes. Senate Bill 26 and Senate Bill 28 would repeal the language under Title 58 that exempts the oil and gas industry from complying with the provisions of this law and include drilling waste in the Solid Waste Management Act’s definition of “hazardous waste.”

“Wastewater from oil and gas wells should not be dumped on roadways in Pennsylvania. Spreading chemical contaminants, heavy metals, and radioactive material is a threat to environmental health and public health. It has no benefit except to help drillers dispose of dangerous and toxic byproducts,” Comitta said. “Thank you to my friend and legislative colleague, Senator Katie Muth, for calling this hearing and to all those who participated.”

Participants in the hearing included David Hess, former DEP secretary and editor of PA Environmental Digest; Karen Feridun, co-founder, Better Path Coalition; Dr. William Burgos, Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Penn State University; and Siri Lawson, a Warren County resident, submitted a statement that was read at the hearing.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection declined an invitation to participate in the hearing but did submit written testimony that is available at this link.

For more information on this policy hearing and to access all submitted testimony and a full recording of today’s hearing, visit www.SenatorMuth.com/policy.

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Panel 1: Efficacy and Safety of Road Spreading Oil & Gas Wastewater

Panel 2: Advocates & Impacted People

Additional Testimony