Pennsylvania is home to the first oil well in the United States, drilled in 1859, and is the second largest producer of natural gas in the nation. As this report details, Pennsylvania is also home to some of the worst pollution from oil and gas waste.
Today, there are over 129,000 oil and gas wells producing waste in The Keystone State, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) estimates up to 560,000 abandoned (orphan) wells are left over from days gone by. All of these wells puncture tens of thousands of square miles of Pennsylvania’s watersheds, producing oil and gas waste spills, leaks and polluting land, water and air.
Since Earthworks’ 2015 report Wasting Away, minimal protections have been gained via state law, and several key policy gaps remain that continue to expose the public to carcinogenic, radioactive toxins from oil and gas waste.
This update shares case studies, reveals the latest waste data trends, and offers recommendations for protecting Pennsylvania and communities downstream.
With FracTracker Alliance and using PA DEP data, Earthworks created a map allowing users to search and see how much PA oil and gas waste is being processed, transported, and disposed near them each year since 2011. States as distant as Idaho are involved. To use the interactive map:
- Click the below image.
- Zoom the map to your home, school, business, etc. by clicking the magnifying glass under the zoom tool and typing a street address.
- Click on specific individual dots on the map to see the amount of waste a facility near you has accepted from PA oil and gas operations between 2011-2018.
- Click inside a watershed boundary to show how much oil and gas waste is being processed and disposed of in your watershed.