Exxon Mobil is facing criminal charges over a wastewater spill in Pennsylvania.
As a defense, it is arguing that the state’s attorney general illegally singled it out to stop hydraulic fracturing.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Wednesday Exxon’s claims are false.
Prosecutors allege that Exxon subsidiary XTO Energy is criminally liable for a water spill in 2010 at a fracking site in north-central Pennsylvania.
“The case involves the first criminal charges filed against a public company drilling in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale,” the Wall Street Journal said.
About 57,000 gallons of wastewater from a fracking operation leaked from storage tanks on an XTO site and into a tributary of the Susquehanna River.
In November 2010, a Pennsylvania inspector found wastewater leaking from a partially open valve.
“XTO says it had turned over the site to contractors, didn’t cause the spill and can’t be held liable for it. The company also says that biologists from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection studied the tributary and found no impact from the spill,” the Wall Street Journal said.
A year ago, XTO paid $100,000 to settle civil charges under the federal Clean Water Act. And it agreed to do a clean up estimated to cost $20 million.
“Two months later, Pennsylvania prosecutors filed eight criminal misdemeanor charges against the company. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of $25,000 a day,” the Wall Street Journal said.
XTO’s lawyers have said in court filings that the criminal charges “may be part of an arbitrary and improper law-enforcement agenda . . . to end hydro-fracturing in Pennsylvania altogether.”
Prosecutors have acknowledged that the state attorney general is opposed to fracking.
But the state denies that it has singled XTO out for improper reasons.