Monday, April 24, 2017

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates  March/ April 2017 

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates   March/ April 2017 

*  For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
*  To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting  information
*  To contact your state legislator:
  For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
*  For information on PA state gas legislation and local control:
Newsletter information-Please Contact Jan Milburn

SEE  the Citizens to Preserve Ligonier Valley’s first billboard on Rt 30 heading west from Ligonier to Latrobe !


***Comments on Methane Regs Proposed by Gov. Wolf Due June 5 Please write a supportive paragraph or two. We have little regulation of gas emissions in PA. – The PA DEP has opened a 45-day public comment period to accept input for reducing methane at well sites and compressor stations associated with gas drilling and transport.
Address:  Policy Office, Department of Environmental Protection, 
Rachel Carson Office Building, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105
You can Ask that Best Available Technology be used to reduce methane emissions at gas operations. 
And--Leak detection should be done monthly on an on-going basis to immediately detect problems that could result in accidents.  (Under the current proposal, companies are required to do leak detection and repair surveys only quarterly.) 

***Contact Your State Senator --Oppose SB 175-- Weakens DEP and Methane Regs
"Republican senators continue their pursuit to limit DEP in fulfilling its mission and defending our kids’ right to a healthy and abundant life.... The bill states:
“… the board may not promulgate ambient air quality standards, emission or performance standards, control measures or other requirements, and the department may not impose permit or plan approval conditions, for methane that are more stringent than those promulgated by the EPA for new sources.”
In effect, the bill would stop new standards in Pennsylvania to reduce methane leaks from natural gas drilling and transportation. It is a partisan political move.”

***County Commissioner KOPAS and WCCC  On The Wrong Side Of Fracking Issue Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas touted the wonders of the gas industry at the Shale Summit at WCCC . While Maryland and New York ban fracking due to health and environmental concerns, our county commissioner supports priming our students to work in the fracking industry.
"I see folks from industry, from labor, concerned citizens, municipal government, education, workforce development. All the partners, all the right people are sitting right here in this room and that’s a wonderful sight to see. .... There are jobs galore out there." 
Yes Ted, and they are all representing the gas industry. 
 This was from the Shale Summit held at WCCC. All the speakers and sponsors were gas industry-industry related. There was no one listed to speak on the health and
environmental harm of fracking. If you disagree with this emphasis, email Ted Kopas and the community college about the harm done to our students and our county by advocating  fracking. jan
Westmoreland Co. Commissioner Ted Kopas
Dr. Tuesday Stanley President WCCC

***WMCG usually meets the second Tuesday of every month. This month we will meet Apirl 25 at 7:30. Email jan for directions.

A Chance to Take Part in the Second People’s Climate March
Washington, D.C., April 29
As an act of resistance, a diverse coalition has organized a Second People’s Climate March on April 29, this time in Washington D.C. We have arranged for three buses to take folk from SW Pennsylvania to the Washington march. The current list of sponsors includes 350 Pittsburgh, Clean Water Action, GASP, Marcellus Protest, Moms Clean Air Force, OnePittsburgh, SEIU HCPA, and the Sierra Club.

***Sister Climate March in Pittsburgh, April 29 10:00 Oakland  4426-4444
 Bigelow Blvd Pittsburgh Contact for more information

Permits/ Decisions
***More wells fracked at Beaver Run Reservoir
"As of 2013, 41 deep wells have been drilled on 6 pads. The drillers are Consol Energy's CNX Gas.
Some of the chemicals used by Consol for fracking have been listed online by the MAWC. There is no information on the location, date, or total quantities of chemicals used, but Material Safety Data Sheets discuss the hazards and properties of these chemicals and others:
hydrochloric acid;
DAP-901-1, which contains methanol and phosphoric acid, and other toxic chemicals;
DWP-938-1, which contains methyl alcohol and other toxic chemicals;
DWP-944-3, which contains polyethylene glycol and other toxic chemicals; and crystalline silica"
CNX GAS CO LLC reports drilling started on 2017-03-05 00:00:00 at site AIKENS 5 AIKENS5MHSUT in Washington Twp township, Westmoreland county
CNX GAS CO LLC reports drilling started on 2017-03-05 00:00:00 at site AIKENS 5 AIKENS5JHSUT in Washington Twp township, Westmoreland county

***PA Gas Drilling Permit Issued in Hempfield Township
Gas permit issued on 2017-03-27 to APEX ENERGY (PA) LLC for site EISAMAN SOUTH PAD-43 2H in Hempfield Twp, Westmoreland County

***Apex To Build 7 Well Pads in Level Green, Penn Twp. 
"Apex Energy has cleared nearly all local hurdles in its plan to build seven
unconventional gas well pads in Penn Township. It now needs only permits from the state before drilling can begin.
The township Zoning Hearing Board approved special zoning exceptions for the Backus, Drakulic and Deutsch pads in Level Green, following last month's approval of the Numis well pad near Pleasant Valley and Beulah roads.
This rapid series of approvals follows the township settling with Apex to avoid a $300 million lawsuit. The zoning hearing board last year rejected three well pads, prompting a series of lawsuits from Apex.
The township settled in December, reversing the rejections of the Beattie, Draftina and White well pads. Apex agreed to several stipulations."

***Upper Burrell "Cari Armstrong, a new homeowner in Upper Burrell, pleaded with the supervisors to consider the long-term impact of fracking over the potential short-term cash windfall.
“There is already evidence that home values suffer when fracking comes into a rural community.”  Armstrong cited a study from Duke University that showed home values decreasing from 1995-2012 across 36 Pennsylvania counties where fracking occurs.
According to the study, the value of homes within 1.5 kilometers of a drilling operation decreased by an average of about $30,000. The same study showed that homes within 1 kilometer lose an average of about 14% of their value.
Ron Slabe accused the board of making decisions about the township without all of the information available and with more concern for money than residents.
“You really don't know how many wells there will be, do you?” he asked.
“I don't,” board Chairman Ross Walker III replied. “You don't either.”
Slabe accused Walker of changing his stance on the issue.”

Court Cases
**Gorsline Case----Jugovic Says--Not in a Residential Back Yard--
"You're making it the universal 'Not in My Back Yard' argument," Justice Max Baer told George Jugovic of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, who represented the landowners.
"At least when it's a residential backyard," Jugovic replied.
Justice Christine L. Donohue asked Jugovic to specifically address the public service determination, noting that the word appeared in some of the language that the zoning board considered.
Jugovic responded that the central purpose for the project is private enterprise, not serving members of the public.
"What if you want to put in a nuclear power plant, would that be a public service?" Justice David Wecht asked.
Susan Smith said that use may be similar to a public, or essential service, so the zoning board could potentially grant that use.
Toward the end of the arguments, Donohue asked several questions about Smith's assertion that there was no evidence in the record regarding the constitutional issues the landowners raised before the high court.
Smith had told the justices that, after the board permits a conditional-use, objectors can only enter objective facts into evidence. Smith acknowledged that there was testimony on that issue, but said there was no actual evidence from the objectors.
"Merely raising a concern is not evidence," Smith said.
Donohue did not appear convinced.
"I truly do not understand that conclusion," Donohue said. "It's contrary to any notion of evidence I've understood."

Gorsline Background "Four residents, represented by the environmental organization PennFuture, challenged Fairfield Township’s decision to allow Marcellus Shale wells as a conditional use in an area zoned for residential and agricultural uses. They argue that the township disregarded its own zoning commitments by introducing industrial drilling into a residential district designed to preserve its quiet character.
A Lycoming County court judge sided with the residents, but the Commonwealth Court reversed that decision. The appeals court reasoned that a shale gas well is similar to types of facilities that provide a broad public service — such as a power substation or a water treatment plant — that can generally be located in any zone. Some municipal parties in the Robinson Township case wrote that their case restored to municipalities the power to make local decisions about where to allow drilling, but did not give local governments the discretion to allow it everywhere. They urged the court to declare a bright-line rule that oil and gas development is an industrial land use incompatible with non-industrial zoning districts."

***Rice Energy Sues West Pike Run Twp. Over Compressor Station Approval With gas wells come compressor stations, and here's how the industry works it. They get approval for a small compressor station then demand approval of an expansion. Some compressor stations in SW PA are now producing large amounts of pollution due to this unlimited expansion. jan
"A subsidiary of Rice Energy has sued West Pike Run Township in Washington County Court, seeking approval to expand a compressor station on a farm in the municipality.
The commission voted Oct. 10 to not recommend the land-development application, the lawsuit alleges.
Residents attended supervisors meetings last year to complain about noise from Blue Moon and another station in West Pike.

Ordinance Activity
***Murrysville The Need for Risk Assessment- Amy Mayberry: "The need for a formal risk assessment - quantitative data: Murrysville resident Amy Mayberry, who
has a masters degree in environmental management from Duke University where she specialized in environmental toxicology, chemistry, and risk assessment, spoke before Council last night (March 1, 2017) on the need for a formal risk assessment to the community of fracking at various setbacks. This is a step that Council should take before enacting the ordinance because it provides justification for decisions about setback distances.
She says, "First, it would include an 'effects assessment' or a 'dose response assessment'. Essentially, that tells you how much of a hazardous chemical someone needs to have in their body before it can actually cause harm."
"Second, it would include an 'exposure assessment', and this is the part I really feel might have been missing up till now. The exposure assessment tells you exactly what level of contaminants you can expect in each part of Murrysville, depending on where that setback is, depending on how many feet you set it at... It will tell you how many people are likely to be exposed to what levels."
"The third and final section... puts the information from those first two sections together. It tells you exactly how likely it is that residents' health will actually be harmed at various distances from the wells."

Murrysville Meeting -John Smith, lead attorney in the Act 13 case that struck down portions of the then-Pennsylvania law regarding gas drilling, likened Murrysville's pending ordinance to a case of spot zoning.
“People made decisions based on the stated purpose of your zoning district,” Smith said. “I'd ask you to review your zoning definition of the rural-residential district; it does not include industrial uses. Adding an overlay district does not change the underlying (residential) character of the district.”
 Jack Milburn: “The argument that a lot of gas-industry people make is, ‘Well, it's not really industrial.' Well, it is,” Milburn (Jack) said. “The U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA identify gas operations as industrial, as did the (state) supreme court by the way. They're assigned an SIC code, a standard industrial classification. It's an industrial activity, and therefore it belongs in an industrial zone.”

***Wilmington—Supervisors declined a major request of fracking opponents — to prohibit gas drilling in agricultural areas.

***Penn Trafford Appeals-   “Protect PT has asked a Westmoreland County judge to halt development of four hydraulic fracturing well pads in Penn Township. The appeals are against the Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board, but the real target is Apex Energy, said Gillian Graber, executive director of Protect PT, a group of residents from Penn Township and other communities near the proposed drilling sites.
The appeals are based on three main arguments:
• Plans for the well pads would require storing more toxic wastewater than is allowed under Penn Township ordinance.
• Plans do not call for pollution monitoring stringent enough to protect residents' rights to “clean air and pure water,” as defined by the state constitution and township ordinance.
• The wells would have an “adverse, abnormal or detrimental impact on the public interest” if built, the appeals state."

***Upper Burrell “It appears that a decision regarding a controversial gas well pad in Upper Burrell won't be coming soon. 
One hurdle involves approvals that Huntley and Huntley Energy needs before it could install and operate a pad containing three gas wells on the Slahtovsky family farm off of Geyer Road. Another involves a zoning challenge brought by a neighbor.
And then there's public sentiment voiced at Wednesday night's supervisors meeting that the township should wait until a series of court rulings regarding natural gas well drilling elsewhere in the state are decided. 
The ordinance that allows gas wells in agricultural-residential zones is being challenged by a resident through the township's zoning hearing board.”

Other Fracking News

***Maryland Frack Ban Is Final
Maryland Officially Becomes the third state to ban fracking joining New York and Vermont!
The governor of Maryland signed the statewide fracking ban into law!

***Health Care Professionals To Gas Industry-Stop the Legal Challenges
"A group representing thousands of Pennsylvania doctors, nurses and other health care professionals has sent a letter to the Marcellus Shale Coalition, requesting that it stop legal challenges and lobbying against regulations aimed at controlling drilling air emissions and safeguarding public health.
The letter to the shale gas industry states that drilling operations can have deleterious impacts on public health, especially children, seniors and people with existing lung problems, and urges the industry to abide by emissions controls proposed for methane, volatile organic compounds and other pollutants.
“Reducing this pollution will have a positive impact on Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable communities,” the letter says. “As health care and public health professionals, we are asking that you stop attacking these reasonable safeguards for the Pennsylvanians we are committed to protecting.”
The letter is signed by about 40 individual doctors, nurses and health care workers, and organizations representing more than 40,000 doctors, nurses, researchers, and health professionals, including the Philadelphia and Harrisburg/Hershey chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility; the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, a nonprofit that addresses health concerns in the state’s gas patches; and SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the state’s largest health care workers union.”

***Hempfield Gas Leak-Truck Backs Into Gas Well 
Hempfield Township — Officials shut down Route 136 in Westmoreland County after a tractor trailer accident caused a large gas leak. According to emergency dispatchers, the tractor-trailer reportedly backed into a large gas well, tearing off the head of the well.  Firefighters and Hazmat teams were called to the scene.  So far, there have been no evacuations in the area. However, officials will be monitoring the air to determine if that is necessary.

***Penn Trafford Schools Reject Free Air Monitoring-- Protect PT, which opposes fracking, offered free monitoring for particulate matter and chemical pollution via the Southwest PA Environmental Health Project and the Clean Air Council.
 Protect PT President Gillian Graber said she did her best to convince district officials that independent monitoring would be a benefit.

***Carroll Twp (Note the date-- this all started in 2007.  Yet the industry says they can do what they want because it’s temporary. Jan) 
“Another issue is that previously in drilling, five compressors were used. Now, 15 or 17 compressors are being used,” he said.
Deafening noise, excessive dust, road congestion and sleepless nights were some of the concerns raised to Carroll Township supervisors about an EQT gas drilling operation.
Ernie Koontz, who lives in the Ripepi housing plan, asked the board what action can be taken to address the noise and excess dust from the gas drilling. Koontz said the back of his house is covered in dust, including his windows, doors and garage door. The dust has also ruined his home air-conditioning compressor more than once.
“I am constantly cleaning up this muck from my garage. My son and my wife can’t sleep at night,” said Koontz. He added that since the drilling began in 2007 at the site, he has been dealing with these problems. During the first round of drilling, an
abatement wall was built to offset the noise."

***EPA Says PA Has Not Enforced Safe Drinking Water Act
"EPA blamed inadequate staffing at the DEP. Gov. Wolf wants to borrow $15 million in each of the next three years to help fund local water quality projects."

***PA Gas Facilities Get Away With Polluting By Adding On Little By Little-
There are less stringent regs for smaller operations
"Earthworks new report, "Permitted to Pollute" explains how oil/gas facilities are getting piecemeal permitting for huge polluting facilities like the Bluestone natural gas processing plant in Butler County which is featured in the report. The permitting for parts of facilities at different times gives industry the ability to be classified as a lower polluting facility under state minor source general permits instead of under a much more stringent and protective EPA Title V major source permits which they should be classified. 
The Bluestone facility has grown from 31 to nearly 380 acres, about 288 football fields. Each phase was built separately and was permitted under the less stringent general permits. Our state regulatory agency does not take into account any facilities that are already existing in the area or the amount of pollution the other facilities emit. This is good information to take to township supervisors if it makes sense to do so."

***Pruitt EPA Scraps Methane Reporting From Oil/Gas Operations
"The EPA said it is withdrawing an Obama-era request that oil and gas companies provide information on methane emissions at oil and gas operations. 
"This appalling decision shows how quickly Pruitt is turning the EPA into an oil industry vending machine," said Vera Pardee of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group."

***Penn State Discusses Property Value
In a review of peer- reviewed research on property value and fracking:
**Estimates range between 2 and 21% reduction in the value of homes near well pads
**During the early development of fracking decisions about land use were based only on positive economic impacts available at the time. There are also negative impacts.
**Properties with private water wells that are located within 1.5 k of a fracked well experience significant negative property value impacts. 
**Properties close to major roadways can experience continuing negative impacts past the drilling state. 
(From Latrobe Bulletin, March 11, 2017)

***Judge Carlson Overturns Compensation to Families With Frack Contaminated  Water
"A federal judge struck down a jury’s award of more than $4 million to two Pennsylvania families who claimed their well water was contaminated by gas drilling, saying the award bore little or no relationship to the evidence presented at the 2016 trial.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson of the Middle District of Pennsylvania ordered a new trial of the case brought by the families in Dimock, led by Scott Ely, who said at the original trial that their water had been contaminated since 2008."

***End Of Mandatory Notification of Spills Affecting Drinking Water Ends  Despite Court Ruling
"Mandatory notification of spills affecting public water supplies will end next week, because the Legislature refused to take action. The Supreme Court ruled last fall that regs had to be rewritten to include notifying private water well owners as well as public water suppliers. To avoid providing this notification, legislators did nothing, so ALL mandatory notification ends. The Legislature has made no attempt at all to meet the court's deadline."
***PA Approves More Waste Injection Wells 
"Pennsylvania has approved two new underground injection wells to take in wastewater from the gas industry. Pennsylvania already has six active injection wells.
The two new injection wells will be operated by Seneca Resources in Elk County, and Pennsylvania General Energy Company in Indiana County. Both have faced significant pushback from the local municipalities.  "

***PA DEP Sues The Townships That Try To Block The Injection Wells
While NY and MD pass bans, the PA DEP is suing townships that are trying to block injection wells. 
"The PA DEP is suing two rural townships that attempted to block underground disposal wells for oil and gas wastewater.

***WPX Fined $1.2 Million for polluting the drinking water of 5 households south of Ligonier, in Donegal Twp, in 2012 
“A leak from a frack waste pit polluted the water below the Kalp well site. WPX is required to investigate the extent of the impacts and remediate the site --soil, groundwater, and any surface water impacted by the leak.”(Latrobe Bulletin)
"Brown said she noticed she was getting dizzy spells about the time they found out their water was contaminated. But I didn't know it was a problem with our water,” she said.
Families Still Without Water South of Ligonier After Frack Pit Leak
"More than four years after a WPX Energy Appalachia wastewater impoundment leaked and contaminated the drinking water of five Westmoreland County families, the shale gas company has agreed to pay the state a $1.2 million penalty.
But the families still don’t have sufficient, permanent water supplies, said Melissa Marshall, community advocate for the Mountain Watershed Association.
The families, who live near Stahlstown, must supplement the filtered water with bottled water. The company also installed water softeners at the homes, but those do not filter out or otherwise treat wastewater chemicals.
“The filtration systems are completely insufficient in providing for the water needs of the families, and that’s been true for years,” Ms. Marshall said. “As a result, the residents are depressed and disillusioned, and still cooking and cleaning and living on bottled water. This settlement doesn’t help the residents, who are still in dire need.”

***CA Cuts Methane Leaks by 45%--Come On PA Get With the Program 
"The California Air Resources Board voted unanimously to enact regulations that will curb the amount of methane the oil and gas industry can leak and vent during production and storage.
The new rule — years in the making — requires oil and gas companies to monitor infrastructure and repair leaks. It is a massive step forward for California’s air quality programs, and it is the strictest in the nation.
The Air Resources Board expects the new rule will reduce methane leaks by 45 percent over the next nine years.

***Colorado Wins Fracking Suit
 Gas Development Will be Subject to Protection of Health--Colorado 
"We therefore conclude that the commission erred in interpreting [the Oil and Gas Conservation Act] as requiring a balance between development and public health, safety and welfare."
"The clear language of the act ... mandates that the development of oil and gas in Colorado be regulated subject to the protection of public health, safety and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources."

***Tens of Thousands of Teachers Are Getting Climate-Denying Propaganda in  Their Mailboxes
The Heartland Institute, a libertarian, climate-denying think tank, is mailing its book Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming and an accompanying DVD to every science teacher at American public schools. About 25,000 teachers out of a targeted 200,000 have already gotten the package."

***Students Oppose Pipelines 
Students from 19 Pennsylvania colleges and universities delivered a statement to Governor Tom Wolf’s Capitol office demanding no new natural gas pipelines and immediate investment in green jobs.
Ms. Funk, a Westmoreland County resident and environmental engineering student at Wellesley College and Olin College of Engineering said, “I grew up playing in a waste coal dump behind my house and in a community impacted by what the coal industry left behind. My science education has made me deeply concerned that Marcellus Shale drilling and pipelines to support it are going to lead us down the same dark path. We are here to tell Tom Wolf that our young minds can answer the question of what’s next for clean energy and green jobs to bring economic opportunity to our communities. We don’t want our livelihoods to continue to be disrupted by unsafe water and an unstable climate.”

***Workers Routinely Exposed To Benzene
"Some workers at fracking oil/gas sites are routinely exposed to high levels of benzene, a colorless gas that can cause cancer, according to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Over the course of a 12-hour shift, workers open the hatches and stand above them one to four times per hour, breathing in the fumes for two to five minutes each time. This could add up to dangerous levels of exposure to various volatile organic compounds from the chemicals used in fracking, or from the hydrocarbons themselves.
The oil and gas industry has a fatality rate “of 27.5 per 100,000 workers (2003-2009) – more than seven times higher than the rate for all U.S. workers,” according to NIOSH. Most fatalities are the result of accidents."

***SW PA Disproportionately Affected By Trump Budget Cuts “Because SW PA still has high levels of pollution, we will be disproportionately affected by Trump's budget cuts. The result will be more asthma, lung disease, and cardiovascular disease
*PA has been awarded over $12 million in 8 years to cut toxic diesel fumes. Trumps budget would cut funding 100%.
*The Air Pollution Control Program in Allegheny County has received federal money for air monitoring. That would be cut 30%.
*The Targeted Air Shed Grant is at risk of being eliminated. It reduces pollution in areas that have the highest levels of ozone and PM2.5 which is this area of PA. It would be eliminated
*Western PA has radon levels far above the national average. Funding for radon programs would be eliminated.
*Programs for lead, brownfield remediation, compliance monitoring and civil enforcement--all cut.” 
Summarized from GASP.

***Trump's Pollution Plan
"Increased air pollution means a rise in asthma attacks, a rise in heart disease and stroke associated with particulate pollution, a rise in the premature births and low birth-weights associated with fracking pollution, a rise in the neurological damage mercury causes in the developing brains of babies.
All members of Moms Clean Air Force should be aware of exactly how huge the Trump/Pruitt Polluter Plan is. Here’s a partial list:
-Encourage more coal-fired power plants to spew mercury, a neurotoxin that harms babies’ brains, into the air.
-Get rid of protections against fracking pollution.
-Undo the smog protections that help prevent asthma attacks.
-Kill the fuel economy standards for cars that help us save money at the pump.
--Do nothing about dangerous climate change—except deny it.
Ignore the Supreme Court ruling that EPA must regulate greenhouse gases.
--Let power plants unleash carbon pollution.
-Attack climate scientists.
-Attack science research and data collection.
-Kill plans for flood programs”

***Trump Says No Carbon Tax Despite Republican Elders Supporting It To Avoid  Climate Change
"Donald Trump's administration is not considering a carbon tax, a White House official said, Trump administration officials met with a group of Republican elder statesman who called for a $40 per ton tax on carbon emissions to fend off global climate change.
In response to that meeting, the White House official said: "The Trump Administration is not considering a carbon tax."

***Trump Executive Order to Eliminate Clean Water rule
“Trump's executive order has been sharply criticized by environmental groups. Earthjustice accused the president of "demonstrating that he puts the interests of corporate polluters above the public's health."
When the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, it defined waters that would need protection from pollution as "navigable." For most of us, that means big enough to float a boat. Over the years, though, it became clear that smaller streams and wetlands needed protection as well, especially those that feed into rivers and lakes that provide drinking water. But Congress and successive administrations tried, and failed, to clarify exactly which waters were subject to the act. The Army Corps of Engineers interpreted the act differently in different regions of the U.S., and courts only added to the confusion.
The Obama administration tried once and for all to settle the question with the Waters of the United States rule in 2015. At the time, it was hailed by the Obama administration as protecting the water supply for about 117 million Americans."

***Pruitt EPA Plans To Allow Unlimited Dumping Of Fracking Wastewater In The  Gulf of Mexico 
“Attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter warning the EPA that its draft plan, which would continue to allow oil and gas companies to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and wastewater directly into the Gulf of Mexico, was in violation of federal law.”

Research/ Reports
***PA Frackers Pay Few Fines
4,351 PA Frack Violations in 8 years-- that’s 1.4 per day
“A new report released in March by PennEnvironment shows that for the past eight years, fracking companies in PA have together committed 4,351 environmental and public-health violations.
That amounts to 1.4 violations per day in the state. This number is pretty significant as is, but PennEnvironment also pointed out that only 17 % of those violations were issued a fine. Additionally, that average fine was only $5,263.

**500 Feet from Well Fire Second Degree Burns in 30 Minutes
" Marsha Haley, M.D., is a radiation oncologist at two of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospitals. She’s also a concerned mother of a 10-year old.
Dr. Haley became more and more concerned about the proximity of wells to school children. It’s not easy to evacuate a school and Dr. Haley particularly was worried about blast zones should an explosion at a well pad occur.
500 feet from a well fire would inflict second-degree burns within 30 minutes. Ohio firefighters were exposed to a therapy-grade radioactive isotope that was found onsite in a fracking truck"

***Study: Natural Gas Power Plants Emit up to 120 Times More Methane Than Previously Estimated
Researchers at Purdue University and the Environmental Defense Fund have concluded that natural gas power plants release 21–120 times more methane than stated in earlier estimates. 
The study also found that for oil refineries, emission rates were 11–90 times more than initial estimates. The scientists measured air emissions at three natural gas-fired power plants and three refineries in Utah, Indiana, and Illinois using Purdue's flying chemistry lab, the Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research (ALAR). They compared their results to data from the EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
 “Power plants currently use more than one third of natural gas consumed in the U.S. and the volume used is expected to increase as market forces drive the replacement of coal with cheaper natural gas,” the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said in a press release. “But if natural gas is going to deliver on its promise, methane emissions due to leaks, venting, and flaring need to be kept to a minimum.” Environmental Science and Technology

Methane Leaks Travel Great Distances and Affect Groundwater  "A new University of Guelph study proves what many western Canadian landowners have long documented — that methane gas leaking from energy industry wells can
travel great distances in groundwater and pose safety risks, contaminate water and contribute to climate change.
The study, published in Nature Geoscience , also concluded that current monitoring for gas leakage, usually at ground level and adjacent to wells, is inadequate to detect contamination.
“Current surface and subsurface monitoring efforts of shale gas development are thus insufficient to meaningfully detect or assess methane impacts to atmosphere and groundwater,” the study found. Impacts on groundwater are not being systematically monitored."

*** Fracking Causes 6,648 Spills in Four States, Duke University
"For the study, the researchers examined state-level spill data to characterize spills associated with unconventional oil and gas development at 31,481 fracked wells in the four states between 2005 and 2014. On average, that's equivalent to 55 spills per 1,000 wells in any given year, lead author Lauren Patterson, Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.
North Dakota reported the highest spill rate, with 4,453 incidents. Pennsylvania reported 1,293, Colorado reported 476 and New Mexico reported 426. We also found that across all states, over 75 percent of spills at these wells occurred within the first three years of a well’s life 
Fifty percent of spills, including those spills whose cause was unknown, occurred at tanks or pits, and flowlines. In tanks and pits, the cause of those spills can vary widely, from equipment failure that manifests in a tank overflow due to corrosion, to human error, to lightning strikes. Many of the flowline leaks were due to corrosion or being punctured by equipment.
The researchers created an interactive map of spill sites in the four states.”

***PA Gas Facilities Get Away With Polluting By Building Little By Little
 There are Less Stringent regs for smaller operations
"Earthworks new report, "Permitted to Pollute" explains how oil/gas facilities are getting piecemeal permitting for huge polluting facilities like the Bluestone natural gas processing plant in Butler County featured in the report. The permitting for parts of facilities at different times gives industry the ability to be classified as a lower polluting facility under state minor source general permits instead of under a much more stringent and protective EPA Title V major source permits which they should be classified. 
The Bluestone facility has grown from 31 to nearly 380 acres, about 288 football fields. Each phase was built separately and was permitted under the less stringent general permits. Our state regulatory agency does not take into account any facilities that are already existing in the area or the amount of pollution the other facilities emit. This is good information to take to township supervisors if it makes sense to do so."
Link to report - .WLYbivnyuUk

Letters To Editor: 
Dear Editor:
Recent studies show the continued negative impacts of unconventional gas drilling on the health, safety, and property values for residents living nearby. The fracking industry’s history is one of contaminated air and water, exploding wells and pipelines, plummeting home values, and even earth quakes.
Such activities take place even after the landmark Robinson decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In that decision, the Court warned that this “heavy industrial” process would “produce a detrimental effect on the environment, the people, their children, and future generations.” Yet the warning goes unheeded.
As Robinson stated, those living in rural and residential areas had certain “expectations” when building their homes and raising their families. Those expectations were not to live anywhere near a polluting industrial activity which the Court has so identified unconventional gas drilling. As the court noted, such activity is not compatible with existing land use, noting “the pig belongs in the barnyard, not in the parlor,” a violation of the due process rights under Article 1, Section 1 of the PA Constitution.
The Court will soon address again the fracking issue in what is known as the Gorsline case. The concerned public demands that the Court finally put the proper restraints on the fracking industry and guarantee us the “expectations” of living with clean air, pure water, and the aesthetic values of the areas we long ago decided to put roots. That “expectation” was never one of living in an environment of toxic waste."
Ron Slabe, Upper Burrell

***Trading Health for Boom Bust Jobs in Shortsighted
“We should be making investments in transitioning workers to jobs that will last many generations, jobs that will not negatively impact the health of the region and expose workers to fires and explosions. We need jobs that will not give our kids asthma and cancer and ruin the air, water and land that we all rely on to survive."
"Why would we ever want to put all our eggs in one basket [natural gas/petrochemicals] again? Creating an economy that relies on the health of a single industry that is historically boom or bust is, in my opinion, egregious and shortsighted. Have we not learned our lesson? The people of southwestern Pennsylvania deserve better from our business leaders and elected officials."
Leah Andrascik

Frack Links

***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking

***To sign up for Skytruth notifications of activity and violations for your area:

*** List of the Harmed--There are now over 1400 residents of Pennsylvania who have placed their names on the list of the harmed when they became sick after fracking began in their area.
*** To See Water Test Results of the Beaver Run Reservoir
IUP students test for TDS, pH, metals- arsenic, chromium, and strontium.
We have not seen results for other frack chemicals including the organics BTEX group, or cesium for example. Here is a link to the IUP site:

***Dr Sahu on air modeling vs. air monitoring
 ***Tracy Carluccio radio interview

Additional Resources on fracking!additional-resources/c21bh 

Newsletter information-Please Contact Jan Milburn

Friday, March 10, 2017

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates January/February 2017

To receive our news updates, please email jan at

*  For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
*  To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting                information
* Our email address:
*  To contact your state legislator:
                For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
*  For information on PA state gas legislation and local control:      

* *Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group- Second Tuesday of      the month, 7:30 PM, email Jan for directions
**CPLV  Third Tuesday of the month , 7:30 PM, UU Church in              Ligonier
*Gorsline Case March 8 in Philadelphia
*Pittsburgh- Tuesdays With Senator Toomey Facebook site- copy    and paste

***Contact your PA Senators!
PA Senators Want to Forbid PA Air Regs From Being More Stringent Than EPA's
"Senate Bill 1327 seeks to amend a state air pollution bill dating to 1960. The amendment would bar the DEP from imposing any air pollution standards “more stringent than those promulgated’’ by the EPA. This would happen just as the new Donald Trump administration appears keen to relax those EPA restrictions.
The 10 senate co-sponsors, including Guy Reschenthaler-R of Jefferson Hills, Elder Vogel Jr.-R of New Sewickley, Camera Bartolotta-R of Monongahela and Scott Wagner-R of York County (who formally announced his campaign for governor on Wednesday). According to Marcellus Money, a project of Common Cause Pennsylvania and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, the gas industry contributed $8,500 to Ms. Bartolotta, $4,500 to Mr. Reschenthaler and $3,250 to Mr. Vogel in the first half of 2016…/Put-meth…/stories/201701150133
               According to (DEP), in 2014 the gas industry in PA emitted 115,000 tons of methane. DEP has said that estimate - based on industry self-reported engineering calculations - could actually be many times higher.
               Reducing methane leaks from the oil and gas sector, the largest source of methane pollution in the country, is an essential step in combating climate change.               Last January, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled a four-point plan to sharply curtail methane emissions from gas production in PA.
               The plan is smart because it's based on effective measures that are already being used by industry-leading companies, or mandated by other gas-producing states. So, the plan is reasonable - maybe even a no-brainer, right? Not according to some in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
               For those of us struggling to get air pollution enforcement on unconventional natural gas infrastructure, the EPA's methane rules have been about the only thing that's given us any leverage at all.”
               Dr Ketyer Responds to Industry's Claim That Gas Makes PA Air Cleaner
                              Senator Reschentahler-R is wrong about regulations and clean air
February 3, 2017 12:00 AM
“Seeking to prevent much-needed rules on methane emissions from shale gas infrastructure, state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler badly misreads the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s 2015 Asthma Focus Report by cherry-picking data showing asthma-related hospitalizations declining from 2009-2013 and jumps to a careless conclusion that “Pennsylvania’s air is getting cleaner because of increased natural gas production” (“Natural Gas Is Improving Our Air,” Feb. 1 Perspectives). Had the senator read the report more carefully, he would have noted that emergency room admissions for asthma increased significantly in Pennsylvania during this period to an “all-time high.” Furthermore, there is a map clearly showing that the highest rates of hospitalization for asthma outside Philadelphia County occur in the Marcellus shale gas patch in southwestern Pennsylvania.
No, senator, natural gas development isn’t making the air cleaner. It’s making it dirtier, and the growing body of medical science and practical experience says it’s making people — especially children — sick with a variety of ailments, including asthma.
Strengthening rather than weakening methane rules is a win for consumers and businesses that have to pay fuel bills, a win for the industry (capturing fugitive emissions means more product gets to market), a win for the public’s (especially children’s) health by halting toxic emissions into the air we breathe, and a win for the planet’s climate system. The suggestion by Sen. Reschenthaler that commonsense methane standards would “make no meaningful impact on the environment” is irresponsible and wrong.
The writer is a pediatrician and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health.…/Senator-…/stories/201702010058

***Comments on Methane Due March 22 Comments on methane regulation as proposed by Gov. Wolf are needed. I will be sending out a special notice about this.
               Harrisburg, PA – The PA DEP has opened a 45-day public comment period to accept input for reducing methane at well sites and compressor stations associated with natural gas drilling and transport.
The comment period opened on Saturday, February 4, and will run until Tuesday, March 22, 2017. Some information:

Local Permits/Violations
(I only copy a few of local interest. Please join Skytruth Alerts for a comprehensive list-link at bottom of newsletter. Jan)
***PA Permit Violation Issued to WPX Energy Appalachia Llc in Derry Twp, Westmoreland County
Environmental Health & Safety violation issued on 2017-01-24 to Wpx Energy Appalachia Llc in Derry Twp, Westmoreland county. 78.91(a) - PLUGGING - GENERAL PROVISIONS - Upon abandoning a well, the owner or operator failed to plug the well to stop the vertical flow of fluids or gas within the well bore under 25 Pa.

   Court Cases
***Unbelievable. PSATS Files Against Gorsline Case
The PA Association of Township Supervisors filed an amicus brief against the Gorsline Case-the Supreme Court case we have been waiting for. That's against all of us who do not want fracking permitted in residential- agricultural areas.
The township supervisors association wants "the decision to grant Inflection Energy the permit for the construction of an unconventional natural gas well in the Township's Residential Agricultural District.” This would affect rulings across the state of course, not just one well.
So who pays for the membership for these local supervisors in the association? Our tax dollars?

***Court Ruling Limits DEP Pollution Fines
“It was the worst spill / pollution case that DEP had experienced in their dealings with the oil & gas industry. Wastewater from an impoundment owned by EQT polluted high quality streams, an exceptional value wetland and an expansive area of groundwater, and triggered an unprecedented $11 million cleanup.
               DEP had calculated that the maximum possible penalty under the Clean Streams Law to be $157 million for each of three violations that continued for more than 1,500 days. EQT argued that the fine should be based only on the 12 days that the spill continued.
Siding with EQT, the Commonwealth Court determined that fines for spills into state streams and groundwater must be based on how long the initial release lasts and not on how many days the pollution lingers.
               The Commonwealth Court’s decision will sharply narrow the scope of the possible fine. According to EQT, the most it should be fined is $10,000 per day for the 12 days.
DEP spokesman Neil Shader said that his agency will be appealing the decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

***A Win—Meaning The Case Can Proceed---- Lauff vs. Range Resources
"It means the case can proceed against the landowners who allowed the use (fracking) on their property.  Maybe landowners will now think twice about leasing their land and harming their neighbors. This case is based on a nuisance claim.
This is the first lawsuit here of this kind. It is not precedent setting at the trial court level, but it is instructive."

Ordinance Activity

***Murrysville Council Votes For 750 ft Buffer- Residents Ask for 1500 ft
Voting against the larger setback was-Korns-wife of solicitor Korns, Spadaro, Lorenz, and Kase.
“Council voted 4-3 Wednesday in favor of a version of the ordinance that places a 750-foot setback between any protected structure and the edge of a fracking gas well pad.
               Council members Josh Lorenz, Jamie Lee Korns, Tony Spadaro and Loren Kase voted in favor. Jeff Kepler, David Perry and council President Joan Kearns, who preferred a setback of at least 800 feet, voted no.
               Resident Amy Mayberry, who holds a master's degree in environmental management with a focus on environmental toxicology, said even an 800-foot setback is “absolutely not sufficient” to protect residents.
“How many times have we realized only in retrospect that our failure to protect the environment has had devastating consequences on our families?” she asked.
               Christa Ross of Murrysville, who works for real estate company Re/Max, cited a 2016 Duke University study of Pennsylvania homes that found the distance between homes and fracking wells directly affected sale prices, showing up to a $30,000 drop in price for homes located within 1.5 kilometers of a well. A kilometer is five-eighths of a mile. The 750-foot setback would permit wells less than 0.25 kilometers, or less than two-tenths of a mile, from homes.
“The fact is that being near a fracking well makes a home less desirable and makes it sell for less,” Ross said."

***Jan Milburn’s Response to Murrysville Meeting-LTE  “I attended the Murrysville Council meeting on Wednesday, where I heard articulate and heart-felt pleas made on behalf of the children of the community. Yet, despite the research-based statements made by parents and professionals, Murrysville Council refused to provide families with even an 800-foot buffer. Flower Mound and Dallas, in gas dominated Texas, provide 1500-foot buffers for their families. Shame on council. There is no excuse for this lack of concern for the health of our children.
And in response to lessors’ claims—No, you do not have the legal right to do anything you want with your property. First you live in a zoned community, zoned by law not for profit but for the protection of the health, welfare, and safety of the community. Second, the law does not allow you the right to do harm to your neighbors. Murrysville will clearly degrade into a less desirable, more industrial community with lower property values thanks to a council that is too weak to protect its residents, its children.
Jan Milburn
Grandmother of Two Franklin Regional School Children

***Some Gain/ Some Loss on Pipeline Safety
               "President Obama's administration scaled back new safety measures for the sprawling network of pipelines that crisscross the US, following oil industry complaints that proposed changes would cost companies billions of dollars.
               The long-delayed regulations cover almost 200,000 miles of pipelines that transport oil, gasoline and other hazardous liquids. If the changes stand, pipeline companies will be required to conduct more rigorous inspections of lines in rural areas and install leak detection systems that are meant to speed up emergency response times when accidents occur. Documents show the pipeline repair criteria was altered to give companies more flexibility in when to do the work following a meeting of officials from the Transportation Department and White House with representatives of the oil industry"

***Dems Oppose, But Republican-Controlled House Votes To Overturn Obama                  Flaring Regs
 Lawmakers voted 221-191 to roll back the Interior Department rule that had clamped down on oil companies that burn off natural gas during drilling on public lands. Three Democrats voted in favor of repealing the rule, while 11 Republicans opposed
               Environmental groups and public health organizations opposed the rollback, saying the new rule will reduce the risk of ozone formation in the air and ozone-related health problems, including asthma attacks, hospital admissions and premature deaths.
Methane, the primary gas burned off during flaring operations, is strong contributor to climate change."

Other Fracking News

***Public Herald Finds 9,442 Citizen Complaints About Fracking
"After a three-year investigation in Pennsylvania, Public Herald has uncovered evidence of widespread and systemic impacts related to “fracking.”
Ending over a decade of suppression by the state, this evidence is now available to the public for the first time.
In 2011, Public Herald’s first file request to DEP for complaints never produced a single document, and we learned that complaints were being held as ‘confidential.’ When asked why, an attorney from DEP’s Southwest Regional Office explained that Deputy Secretary Scott Perry didn’t want complaints to ‘cause alarm.’”
…. Today, due to this work, anyone can access these cases via the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Complaint Map. At the end of our reviews, we submitted a final Right-to-Know request for the DEP database of all citizen complaints. On December 30, 2016, DEP responded in an email with a new list revealing a statewide total of 9,442 complaints from 2004 through November 29, 2016.
Throughout Pennsylvania, DEP has determined that only 284 water supplies have ever been impacted by oil and gas operations in the state. This means that DEP considers 94% of drinking water complaints to be completely unrelated to oil and gas."

***Protect PT Asks School Board For Air Monitoring
"Protect PT President Gillian Graber asked the Penn-Trafford school board to consider working with a third party to monitor air quality at schools near the proposed wells.
Level Green Elementary is the nearest to the wells proposed by Apex Energy. It is about a mile from both the Deutsch site on Saunders Station Road and the Backus site near Sedona Lane and Meadowbrook Road. It is also a little more than a mile from the Drakulic site on First Street and Numis site at Pleasant Valley and Beulah roads.
The district's other schools are two miles or more from proposed well pads."

***Not good for Westmoreland -Rigs Move In
               "The company is currently operating two rigs in the dry-gas portion of the Utica shale in Monroe County, Ohio, but plans to move those units to southwest Pennsylvania to drill some new Marcellus shale wells. That will be followed by more drilling in the deep, dry-gas Utica in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

***Chartiers’ Residents Complain of High Noise Levels “We didn’t ask for any of this,” Plonski said. “We didn’t know this was going to happen.....Our position is Range decided that they wanted to engage in this activity in a residential area,... Township manager Jodi Noble said readings at the property line of Range Resources’ Moritz well site showed noise levels that violated the 60-decibel limit township supervisors imposed when they approved the well application."

***Dr. John Stolz Receives Grant To Further Examine Water Pollution Near                Frack Sites "Residents of southwest Pennsylvania can learn if their well water has been contaminated by fracking operations for free — all thanks to a Duquesne professor and his students.
               John Stolz, director of Duquesne’s Center for Environmental Research and Education, received a $48,000 award from the Heinz Endowments earlier this month for his project. Stolz said he and some of his students travel to homes in Allegheny, Butler, Greene and Washington Counties to find any potential contaminants in residents’ well water. So far, about 1,000 water samples have been taken and the wells of about 250 homes have been tested."

***PA Tax Increase Pays for Fracking Damage To Roads
               " The primary reason for the highest gas price is because of fracking.
The Tom Corbett administration and Republican legislature had welcomed gas drillers to the state and gave them benefits to drill into the Marcellus shale, using a technology that sacrificed health and the environment for what has proved to be short-term benefits.
Fracking requires as many as 200 truck trips per day—each truck bringing water, chemicals, or heavy equipment—to each developing well site. Those trips cause severe damage to roads that were not built to sustain such traffic. Although corporations drilling into Pennsylvania have agreed to fund repairs of roads they travel that have less than two inches depth of asphalt on them, the fees don’t cover the full cost of repair."

***Act 13 Money Being Spent Inappropriately
"Municipalities and counties are independently interpreting the flawed language of Act 13. Under the law, fracking impact fees should be used for things like: road repairs; bridges; repairing water, storm water and sewer systems; environmental programs. However money is being spent on things like landscaping equipment, legal fees, even parties and community events. Act 13 contains no penalties for spending money improperly.

***Well Pads Change Configuration To Fit Topography The industry will be using long skinny well pads instead of square due to topography in some areas. (This is the first I have heard of changing pad shape to fit topography.)

***Communities along Mariner East 2 Pipeline Route Brace For Construction
                “Sunoco asked for and received more time to respond to the September deficiency letters and on December 5 the company submitted their responses to DEP, which are posted online.
Landowners and activists along the route say they are preparing lawsuits to file if and when DEP issues the permits. “The fight is now in the courts,” said the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s Maya van Rossum. “The other option is for people to rise up in protest.”
Neil Shader, a spokesman for DEP, declined to say if or when the department would make a decision on the permits.”

***PA Quakes Due To Fracking “Quakes were recorded last April in Lawrence County, about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh and close to a gas well pad owned by Houston-based Hilcorp Energy Co. The company was using a technique at the well called "zipper fracturing," essentially the simultaneous fracking of two abutting horizontal wells. To reduce the likelihood of future quakes, Hilcorp agreed to discontinue the practice for wells less than a quarter-mile apart in the three townships where the quakes were recorded.
               DEP also required Hilcorp to operate its own seismic monitors in the townships, to notify the agency within 10 minutes of any quakes of 1.0 or greater magnitude and to suspend fracking in the event of larger quakes."

***Baltimore Sun Supports Fracking Ban in Maryland
"This is not a position we take lightly. Western Maryland has an unemployment rate above the statewide average — between 4.4 and 5.2 percent by county compared to the statewide average of 4.0 percent. But it is also highly dependent on tourism the state's $16.4 billion visitor business. Still, it isn't just a matter of image. The risks posed by fracking are real. Often, the problem is the method of disposal for wastewater from well injection sites — the technology involves forcing a mixture of water, chemicals and sand under high pressure into underground rock to release trapped gas — and its impact on local groundwater. In neighboring West Virginia, for example, the U.S. Geological Survey found Wolf Creek in Fayette County contaminated with sodium, chloride, strontium, lithium and radium traced to a nearby underground well.
But that's not all. The potential adverse impacts include damage to human health, clean air and water; excessive noise pollution and even micro earthquakes."

***New Marcellus Development Boom Will Triple Greenhouse Gas Emissions from                PA Gas
"The report forecasts thousands of new natural gas wells. To meet projected demand, 1,600 to 2,000 new shale gas wells will need to be constructed each year, researchers say — nearly doubling Marcellus production by 2030 over 2014 levels. As these new wells come on line, climate-impacting emissions from the sector — primarily methane — will increase 50% to 87% over 2014 levels.
Researchers note that the new projected development would constitute a second drilling boom for Pennsylvania.
“The build-out of Marcellus Shale gas in Pennsylvania will release methane at an alarming rate,” said Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper…/press%20release%20PSE%  

***Trump Puts Gag Order On EPA
"The EPA is frozen-stopped. All grants and contracts are suspended immediately. (this affects all aspects of our environment)
EPA can make no public pronouncements.
No press releases
No use of social media
Trump administration will review all EPA webinars
Will review all speaking engagements
Will review all media content
There will be no new web content.
EPA can send only critical messages at this time"
This segment on Rachel Maddow starts at about 12:00. It is the most surreal report on what Trump has just done to the EPA, to the democratic process.…/…/rachel-maddow-1-24-17-episode

*** Trump Administration Forces the EPA to Delete All Of Its Pages on Climate Change
“The move comes as part of a much broader crackdown on postings by all agencies who track the effects of global warming on the environment. All of those organizations – as well as others, like the National Parks Service – have been banned from talking to the public by the US government.
Now scientists are scrambling to save some of the most important parts of the EPA's website before they are deleted off the internet entirely."

***H. R. 861  To Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
February 3, 2017
Mr. Gaetz-R, Mr. Massie-R, Mr. Palazzo-R, and Mr. Loudermilk-R introduced the following bill HR 861
To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.

***Fracking And Dirty Air- Lawsuit in LA
 She does, however, notice the persistent cough she’s been fighting for five months; the asthma that affects her, her mother and her sister; and the cancer rate in her neighborhood, one of the highest in Southern California.
In 2015, Youth for Environmental Justice and other groups, sued Los Angeles. The suit said the city had permitted drilling without performing required environmental reviews, not only in Wilmington but also South Los Angeles, a low-income area where most residents are black or Latino.
In 2013, Dallas Texas passed an ordinance banning drilling within 1,500 feet of homes."

                                      New Research/ Reports
***Childhood Leukemia Study: “The findings from our registry-based case control study indicate that young Coloradans diagnosed with one type of childhood leukemia are more likely to live in the densest areas of oil and gas sites. More comprehensive research that can address our study’s limitations is needed to understand and explain these results.”
               "Funded by the CU Cancer Center and published in the journal PLOS ONE, the study shows children and young adults between the ages of 5 and 24 with acute lymphocytic leukemia were 4.3 times more likely to live in the densest area of active oil and gas wells than those with other cancers. (4.3 times more likely to live within 10 miles of an active oil and gas well than kids with other types of cancer.   The study focused on rural areas and towns in 57 Colorado counties and excluded urban areas of more than 50,000 people.
According to the report, U.S. oil and gas development has grown rapidly over the past 15 years and this industrial activity has the potential to emit toxic substances into air and water, including carcinogens like benzene.

***Fracking Noise Harms Health "Fracking creates noise at levels high enough to harm the health of people living nearby, according to the first peer-reviewed study to analyze the potential public health impacts of ambient noise related to fracking.
               Environmental noise is a well-documented public health hazard. Many large-scale epidemiological studies have linked noise to adverse health outcomes including diabetes, depression, birth complications and cognitive impairment in children. Noise exposure, like other health threats, may disproportionately impact vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.
               High-decibel sounds are not the only culprits; low-level sustained noises can disturb sleep and concentration and cause stress. They found that noise from fracking operations may contribute to adverse health outcomes in three categories, including anxiety, sleep disturbance and cardiovascular disease or other conditions that are negatively impacted by stress."

*** Fracking Causes 6,648 Spills in Four States, Duke University
"For the study, the researchers examined state-level spill data to characterize spills associated with unconventional oil and gas development at 31,481 fracked wells in the four states between 2005 and 2014. On average, that's equivalent to 55 spills per 1,000 wells in any given year, lead author Lauren Patterson, a policy associate at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, told ResearchGate.
North Dakota reported the highest spill rate, with 4,453 incidents. Pennsylvania reported 1,293, Colorado reported 476 and New Mexico reported 426. We also found that across all states, over 75 percent of spills at these wells occurred within the first three years of a well’s life
Fifty percent of spills, including those spills whose cause was unknown, occurred at tanks or pits, and flowlines. In tanks and pits, the cause of those spills can vary widely, from equipment failure that manifests in a tank overflow due to corrosion, to human error, to lightning strikes. Many of the flowline leaks were due to corrosion or being punctured by equipment.
The researchers created an interactive map of spill sites in the four states.”

***Methane May Not Last Long In The Atmosphere — but it drives sea level rise for centuries  “If you’ve ever made a cup of tea on the stove you know that hot water expands,” said Susan Solomon, a professor of environmental studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s simply basic physics, and it’s something that the planet can’t get away from.”
Even if humans stopped emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere tomorrow, the expansion effect would continue in the oceans for centuries more, making it effectively irreversible in our lifetimes. new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, written by Solomon and colleagues Kirsten Zickfeld of Simon Fraser University and Daniel Gilford of MIT, underscores the fact that even greenhouse gases that don’t last long in the atmosphere — methane, for instance — can have centuries-long impacts on the expanding oceans.
“The ocean never forgets — that’s the essential message of this paper,” Solomon said."

***Too Dirty Too Dangerous-Physicians For Social Responsibility  
 “Physicians for Social Responsibility released a report detailing the threats methane pollution from gas poses to public health. The report highlights, among others, the threat to expecting mothers living near highly active hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations, which increases the likelihood of high-risk pregnancy and the likelihood of giving birth prematurely. Preterm birth and low birth weight are leading causes of infant death and childhood disability.
               The report also challenges natural gas based on methane’s powerful contribution to climate change. We are already seeing the health impacts of climate change in our medical practices, from increases in allergies, respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, and heat injury, to pollution-related premature deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke and an increase in anxiety and depression, to name a few. Sadly, these health issues disproportionately affect children, the chronically ill, the elderly, the homeless and our minority communities,” added Lynn Ringenberg, MD, immediate past president of PSR’s national board and professor emeritus at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.  “Fracking and related operations that release natural gas into the atmosphere will worsen these health issues in the years and decades to come.”

***Environmental Integrity Project’s Report, “Don’t Believe the Job Killer Hype,” examines data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as reports from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and more than two dozen economists and researchers.
               The federal government data show that only about two tenths of one percent of layoffs are caused by government regulations of any kind, including environmental regulations. Layoffs are caused far more often by corporate buyouts, technological advances, and lower overseas labor costs.
“The evidence shows that there is simply no truth to the idea that regulations kill jobs or stifle growth,” said Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Environmental Integrity Project. “In fact, regulations provide huge economic benefits to our society, with minimal, though generally positive, effects on jobs and productivity. On the other hand, the absence of regulation can have severe economic consequences, with perhaps the most notable example being the 2008 financial collapse.”

Frack Links
***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking

***To sign up for Skytruth notifications of activity and violations for your area:

*** List of the Harmed--There are now over 1400 residents of Pennsylvania who have placed their names on the list of the harmed when they became sick after fracking began in their area.

*** To See Water Test Results of the Beaver Run Reservoir
IUP students test for TDS, pH, metals- arsenic, chromium, and strontium.
We have not seen results for other frack chemicals including the organics BTEX group, or cesium for example. Here is a link to the IUP site:

***Dr Sahu on air modeling vs. air monitoring

Additional Resources on fracking

Newsletter information please contact Jan Milburn

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s GroupMission Statement
               WMCG is a project of the Thomas Merton Society
      To raise the public’s general awareness and understanding of the impacts of Marcellus drilling on the natural environment, health, and long-term economies of local communities.

To receive our news updates, please email jan at