PEC Explores Abandoned Mines and Wells in June’s “Environmental Focus”

Contact: Alex Oltmanns
Date: June 17, 2016
Phone: (412) 481-9400
Email: [email protected]

Pittsburgh – The environmental legacies of Pennsylvania’s industrial past and the challenge of remediation and restoration will be the topic of discussion in the June installment of “Environmental Focus,” the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s (PEC) monthly environmental affairs television program.

The program will air on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) on Sunday, June 19 at 4 p.m.

Two hundred years of extracting natural resources such as timber, oil, gas, and coal have taken a heavy toll on the Pennsylvania landscape. And many of the facilities that used to process those materials have been abandoned, leaving behind contaminated brownfields. The historical impacts of this extraction have left Pennsylvania with major environmental challenges and insufficient funds to pay for the cleanup.

The half-hour television show features an interview with Joe Pizarchik, the director of surface mining reclamation and enforcement at the U.S. Department of the Interior, who describes the complexity of reclaiming abandoned coal mines and preventing the pollution of streams and waterways from mine discharges, a task he estimates will cost as much as $15 billion.

Abandoned mines roundtable photo
DEP’s Kurt Klapkowski and PEC president Davitt Woodwell joined the roundtable discussion.

Then a roundtable discussion picks up on this topic with Kurt Klapkowski, the director of oil and gas planning and program management at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Davitt Woodwell, president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

“There is somewhere in the neighborhood of 180,000-200,000 abandoned orphaned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania,” says Klapkowski. “We’re trying to discover where they are because they can cause all kinds of problems.

“The funding to address these legacy issues is relatively limited,” he adds. “At the current rate, we think it’s going to take somewhere around 100 years to address all the legacy wells that are out there.”

Previous editions of “Environmental Focus” have featured topics such as methane emissions from natural gas development, gas pipelines, diseased fish in the Susquehanna River, conservation of the Delaware River watershed, the Pennsylvania capital budget, and other topics.

To view past episodes of “Environmental Focus,” click here.

About the Pennsylvania Environmental Council

Founded in 1970, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council is the leading environmental organization in the state, and was instrumental in the passage of nearly every major piece of legislation and regulatory initiative affecting clean air, clean water, land use and conservation, hazardous materials, and other major public policy actions since that time. Today, the organization is heavily engaged in a number of critical initiatives surrounding the development of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, trail and green space development, green energy and climate change programs, water quality, and watershed protection projects.

PEC serves the entire state with programs and staff spanning the Commonwealth.

About Pennsylvania Cable Network

PCN (the Pennsylvania Cable Network) is a Government-access television cable television network dedicated to 24-hour coverage of government and public affairs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It features live coverage of both Houses of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, as well as other forms of informational and educational programming.

The bulk of PCN’s operations are located in Harrisburg, the Commonwealth capital, but it also has bureaus in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

For more information, visit