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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.


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

October 16, 2013 | Feature

Down to Earth: On the Fracking Frontlines

From the California coast to Maryland ports, Earthjustice is fighting to protect communities and special places from fracking. Listen to an interview with Deborah Goldberg, managing attorney of the Northeast regional office.

June 26, 2012 | Feature

Down to Earth: The Dark Side of the Fracking Boom

Deborah Goldberg, managing attorney of the Northeast regional office, discusses her litigation work on fracking, a controversial form of extreme gas drilling that can contaminate the air and water.