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Protecting Pennsylvania Waters From Fracking

The Monongahela River, flowing through Pittsburgh, PA.

The Monongahela River, flowing through Pittsburgh, PA.

Photo courtesy of Michael Righi

What's at Stake

Pennsylvania was permitting discharges of fracking wastewater into the state’s waterways. Earthjustice fought the practice and won—securing new protections and establishing a strong precedent for similar fights across the state.

Case Overview

Pennsylvania is awash in new fracking operations, which generate huge amounts of toxic wastewater. When drillers were told that they could not send their waste to sewage treatment plants, the state faced a slew of new applications for industrial wastewater treatment plants.

Some of the early proposals would have allowed inadequately treated wastewater from fracking operations to be discharged directly into pristine cold water fisheries and rivers like the Monongahela that are already impaired by pollution.

On behalf of Clean Water Action, Earthjustice challenged an agreement between Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and the developer of a new wastewater treatment facility on the Monongahela River.

These efforts prevented the plant from discharging a single drop of waste into the river and produced a new permit that will ensure proper treatment of wastewater for recycling.

This critical victory will help in the fights to protect other water bodies in the state from natural gas drilling wastewater.

Case ID


Case Updates

April 12, 2011 | Blog Post

Lawmakers Probe Impacts of Gas Drilling Boom

In a hearing, today, lawmakers on Capitol Hill probed the health and environmental impacts of a gas drilling boom fueled by the controversial gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Using this technique, companies blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to force natural gas from underground deposits.

March 11, 2011 | Blog Post

PA Gov. to Energy Exec: You’re the Boss of Everyone

Fresh off his state’s radioactive river scandal, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has once again landed in hot water (no pun intended) over a line in his proposed budget which hands the energy executive he appointed to head the state's economic development agency "supreme" decision-making power to fast-track gas drilling permits in the state.

January 27, 2011 | Blog Post

And the Oscar Goes To…

I don’t want to jinx anything, but we’re positively thrilled to see GASLAND—the truth-telling/irreverent film about toxic gas drilling—get an Oscar nod for best documentary. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s readily available on DVD.