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Ohio Utica Shale

Pennsylvania farmer jailed over pipeline construction issues

By Bob Downing Published: December 18, 2012

From the Marcellus Effect blog:


Last Friday a Pennsylvania farmer was tossed in jail for telling pipeline workers to cease illegally dumping sulfur water on his fields.
Yup, you heard that right.
When 73-year-old Joe Bezjak, of Nicolson Township in Fayette County, PA discovered contractors with Laurel Mountain Midstream pumping sulfur water onto his property, he did what any right-thinking farmer would do: he asked them to stop. And that landed him in the pokey over the weekend.
The irony: the gas pipeline employees were working on Bezjak’s farm against the court’s direction. They, however, got a “get out of jail free” card.
From interviews with the press, it seems that last spring Bezjak signed a contract with Laurel Mountain Midstream of Williams Companies LLC to allow them a right-of-way for a 16-inch gas pipeline through his 700-acre cattle farm. Bezjak raises Black Angus – about 200 head. At the time, the pipeline company agreed to work with him to ensure that the construction work did not interfere with his farming. A promise unfulfilled…
Bezjak and his neighbor discovered cut and broken fences, stray cattle and dead calves. They also discovered a Bentonite spill in a local creek, and reported the violation to the PA Department of Environmental Protection.
A county judge ordered Laurel Mountain to replace fencing. But because Bezjak and his neighbor had tried to run the pipeline folk off their fields, he ordered the landowners to remain at least 50 feet away from the company’s right-of-way until the project is finished.
At the same time, PA state environmental inspectorshalted the project indefinitely, due to the contamination from the bentonite spill.
So, when Bezjak saw pipeline workers – who weren’t supposed to be on his land by DEP order – dumping pollution illegally, he did what any right-thinking person would do. He told them to stop. He told them to leave. And he was the one tossed in jail.
“I couldn’t stop myself,” he told the press. “I am not against drilling but I do believe in being a good steward of the land.”




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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.