Consol Energy Inc. subsidiary CNX Gas Co. LLC has agreed to pay the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) more than $450,000 for water withdrawals that violated the state's Oil and Gas Act and its fish and boat code.
CNX signed a joint consent assessment and settlement agreement with both agencies for the excess withdrawals, which occurred between 2011 and 2014. Both the DEP and PFBC, which helps oversee the state's waters, said CNX violated its draw-down permit and water management plan (WMP) by taking too much water during the period from a reservoir in Washington County. The company must now pay $345,750 to the DEP and $105,000 to the PFBC.
CNX, DEP said, did not adhere to its WMP. The agency determined that it exceeded its approved daily water withdrawal limits from the reservoir on 43 days between October 2011 and June 2013. CNX obtained a draw-down permit from PFBC that set further limits on how much water could be removed from the reservoir. But on 164 days from October 2013 to December 2014, CNX again withdrew water from the reservoir in an amount that was not approved under its WMP and draw-down permit.
The withdrawals, DEP said, resulted in lower water levels in the reservoir, drying out the shallow shoreline areas and surrounding forested wetlands. In order for operators to remove water for unconventional oil and gas wells in the state, a WMP must be approved by the DEP. It designates the sources to be used, the peak daily withdrawal limits and how quickly water can be removed from a source.
DEP also said CNX failed to keep proper records for water withdrawals and reservoir levels. The company could not be reached to comment about the fine on Friday.