In 2014, Chesapeake Appalachia LLC informed EPA, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PDEP) that an internal audit had identified potential unauthorized discharges of fill material without applicable permits at multiple sites in Pennsylvania. Eventually, Chesapeake disclosed potential unauthorized discharges at a total of 76 sites across Pennsylvania, impacting about 26 acres of wetlands and 2,326 linear feet of streams.
On March 24, 2021, the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania settled the enforcement matter with Chesapeake. According to EPA’s news release regarding the settlement, Chesapeake has agreed to pay a $1.9 million penalty for violating federal and state clean water laws and agreed to restore or mitigate harm to the impacted water resources. The settlement, described in a proposed consent decree filed in a Pennsylvania federal court, will be subject to public comment before presentment to the federal judge for approval.
Restore or Mitigate Harm to Wetlands Resources and Ongoing Compliance
The proposed settlement requires Chesapeake to either restore the wetlands resources or seek after-the-fact authorization from USACE and/or PADEP to leave the fill in place. Any approval to leave the fill in place will require Chesapeake to offset the resource loss through off-site compensatory mitigation.
Also, Chesapeake must appoint a “Pennsylvania Compliance Representative” to oversee activities that involve or may involve discharges of dredged or fill material, earth disturbance activities, post construction stormwater management, or encroachment or water obstructions for Chesapeake’s oil and gas facilities.
To see EPA’s news release, which has a link to the proposed consent decree https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/us-pennsylvania-resolve-wetlands-water-violations-chesapeake-appalachia