PA AG Brings Criminal Charges Against Fracking Company For Spill


'So these guys were all like, 'Whoa, we can't believe you're bringing criminal charges against us for a spill when we said 'Oopsie!''

Oh dear, Attorney General Kathleen Kane is creating a "hostile business environment"! Maybe if the business environment is a little less friendly, these companies will be a little more careful about the poison they so frequently "accidentally" spill:

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane's decision to prosecute a major Marcellus Shale natural-gas driller for a 2010 wastewater spill has sent shock waves through the industry. But environmentalists Wednesday hailed the prosecution of the Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary as a departure from the soft treatment they say the industry has received from Pennsylvania regulators. "We have been very concerned about enforcement in the Marcellus, and we welcome the attorney general's taking an active role," said Myron Arnowitt, Pennsylvania director of Clean Water Action.

Kane's office announced charges Tuesday against XTO Energy Inc. for discharging more than 50,000 gallons of toxic wastewater from storage tanks at a gas-well site in Lycoming County.

XTO in July settled federal civil charges over the incident by agreeing to pay a $100,000 fine and deploy a plan to improve wastewater-management practices. The consent decree included no admissions of liability. The Fort Worth, Texas, drilling company, which Exxon acquired in 2010, said it had worked cooperatively with federal and state authorities to clean up the spilled waste, known as "produced water." XTO excavated and removed 3,000 tons of contaminated soil from the site.

"Criminal charges are unwarranted and legally baseless because neither XTO nor any of its employees intentionally, recklessly, or negligently discharged produced water on the site," XTO said in a statement. Kane's office said it did not need to prove intent to prosecute the company for crimes.

XTO is charged with five counts of unlawful conduct under the Clean Streams Law and three counts of unlawful conduct under the Solid Waste Management Act.

Industry leaders said the prosecution of a company for what they called an inadvertent spill creates a hostile business environment. "The incident has been fully addressed at the state and federal levels, and this action creates an untenable business climate that will discourage investment in the commonwealth," Kathryn Z. Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said in a statement. The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry also protested.

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