Natural-gas driller under fire

Criminal charges filed against Exxon Mobil subsidiary for Marcellus Shale wastewater spill

Criminal charges have been filed against Exxon Mobil subsidiary XTO Energy Inc. for a 2010 wastewater spill related to natural-gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale in the northeastern United States.

In early September, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced the charges against XTO “for discharging more than 50,000 gallons of toxic wastewater from storage tanks at a gas-well site in Lycoming County,” according to an article at In July, XTO agreed to pay a $100,000 fine and “deploy a plan to improve wastewater-management practices,” as the result of a federal civil suit.

“We have been very concerned about enforcement in the Marcellus, and we welcome the attorney general’s taking an active role,” said Myron Arnowitt, Pennsylvania director of national water-advocacy organization Clean Water Action.

Proponents of Kane’s action see it as a “departure from the soft treatment [the natural-gas] industry has received from Pennsylvania regulators,” the article noted.