The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is continuing to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for their errors and shortcomings. Their fine levied against Rice Midstream Holdings is one of the most recent examples of such enforcement of the law.
The DEP enforces numerous laws and guidelines for construction operations pertaining to maintaining water and soil quality and mitigating any negative effects of construction. Pipeline development can cause copious amounts of environmental issues if the proper legally mandated precautions and standards are not maintained. In fact, oil and gas companies must acknowledge the law to receive the proper permits to begin pipeline development.
In 2017, Pittsburgh-based Rice Midstream operated a construction site in Greene County, PA, where the development of the Beta Trunk natural gas pipeline was underway. According to the DEP, numerous regulations were violated, ultimately causing “industrial waste”, in this case, sediment, to seep into tributaries, thus negatively affecting water quality and conditions. The DEP also states that much of the ill effects could have been avoided, but instead, Rice had not properly implemented or maintained various safeguards to prevent erosion and sedimentary issues.
As a result, the DEP has levied a fine of $1.5M against the company. However in 2018, Rice Midstream Holdings was part of a merger, and its assets, including the Beta Trunk pipeline, are now owned and operated by Equitrans Midstream Corp. who will now foot the bill.