Federal and state regulators have proposed a $1.9 million fine against Chesapeake Energy for damaging dozens of wetlands and streams at its gas drilling sites in Pennsylvania.
According to a complaint lodged in federal court in Williamsport, Oklahoma-based Chesapeake illegally damaged wetlands and streams at 76 well sites, in Beaver, Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Wyoming counties.
The regulators say the company filled in, dredged, or otherwise encroached on protected waterways at the sites without obtaining the proper permits.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says the company alerted regulators about the possible violations in 2014, after a similar investigation in West Virginia found the company had diverted or impacted over 2 miles of streams.
The company conducted an internal audit of its Pennsylvania operations and found it diverted or filled in over 28 acres of wetlands and 2,300 feet of streams.
As part of a proposed consent decree with federal and state regulators, the company will restore a total of 55 acres of wetlands and repair over 4,000 feet of streams.
“This settlement resolves many violations over several years and leads to a net increase of wetlands and restored streams,” said DEP secretary Patrick McDonnell, in a statement. McDonnell applauded Chesapeake for coming forward to disclose its violations.
The investigation and subsequent agreement in Pennsylvania was held up by Chesapeake’s bankruptcy case, which ended in January.
“Having voluntarily disclosed these issues with the DEP and EPA seven years ago, we are pleased to resolve this legacy matter,” Gordon Pennoyer, a Chesapeake spokesman, said in an emailed statement.
The agreement, filed in U.S. District Court in Williamsport and subject to a judge’s approval, will undergo a 30-day public comment period.