Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group Updates February 27

Hyperlinks are in purple text and underlined. Other addresses need to be cut and pasted.

                                           Jan's weekly update:
For articles, updates, reports, or to just vent, visit us at our blog site and facebook.
To discuss candidates for the upcoming election: http://www.facebook.com/groups/VoteProEarth/
For information on the state gas legislation and local control http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
Quote for the Week-- It is alarming to read that this station would emit 16.58 tons per year of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and 7.05 tons per year of formaldehyde. (Clean Air Council referring to the proposed Allegheny County Frasier compressor station compound, article below)
Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil welcomes the federal investigation of Washington County Marcellus Shale operations because of “lackluster regulation by the DEP”. (Article below)
Steering Committee Meeting Report-Everyone is invited to attend steering committee meetings. I announce the meetings periodically, but if you are interested in having your name placed on steering committee e-mail list please let me know. We fit meetings in between all the diverse activities the group has participated in regarding Marcellus drilling. In the past year, members of our group have attended countless planning meetings, sponsored public informational meetings, distributed handouts on problems associated with drilling, served on zoning committees, written and presented comments and testimony to the EPA, DOE, the Citizens Commission, local zoning boards, county commissioners meetings, and the Westmoreland County planning commission, met with state representatives, sponsored Gasland showings, created a blogsite, facebook page, and informational election site, and interacted with other groups across the state to advance our cause.
DONATIONS REQUESTED At our steering committee meeting last week we decided that we need to ask for donations to support our work. Thanks to those who have done so in the past. At this time we would use the funding to initiate a post card mailing to educate the public about the recent vote on Marcellus drilling- that it represented a vote against the public interest and how Westmoreland legislators voted on the bill. The voting record of legislators and the effects of the bill on local zoning has received little press coverage.
To donate to the Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group onlinego to the Donations page at:           Thomas Merton Center

and scroll down to Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group and fill out the form for Pay Pal.
To send a donation check:
Make check out to the Thomas Merton Center and write "Westmoreland Marcellus" on the memo line. Then send your check to:
Thomas Merton Center
5129 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
As of February 29th, Rex Energy will stop delivering water to families whose water has been contaminated since the gas drilling began in their area.
What can you do?
- Attend the rally to demand Rex Energy restores their water.
- Bring a Gallon of Bottled Water
When: Thursday, March 1st, 3:15 pm
Where: Butler Farmer’s Market, Butler, PA (between Race St. and Shore St.)
1. Westmoreland County Commissioner Meetings- Attendees Needed
The county will now be responsible for making a decision on whether to impose an impact fee on drillers and how to use it for reparations. We would like to have people attend those meetings for the purpose of asking if the county will be accepting the fee and how they plan to implement it as well as stating your thoughts about gas operations.
Jan Kiefer will coordinate this effort. If you are available, please email him to let him know the Thursday morning you can attend. We would like to have at least two people attend each meeting for the next ten meetings. jkief7@aol.com
The next four meetings are: March 8th and 22nd April 12th and 26th at 10:00 AM at the Westmoreland County Court House
About the Impact Fee---Unbelievably, part of the impact fee, assumed by voters to be used exclusively for problems caused by gas drilling, is to be used to bring more toxic pollution to the area by being earmarked to help develop a massive petrochemical refinery in southwest PA. The state plans to spend $490,000 for improvements at an industrial park that could be a location for the huge petrochemical refinery. Gov Corbett is doing everything possible to bring one of the dirtiest of industries to our area. This is not Cancer Valley and we don’t want to live in a highly industrialized, toxic environment. Our air is already polluted. Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties already have high rates of cancer and lung disease, and it is clear the Corbett administration will not act to implement tough controls if they win the fight to bring this industry to our state. Incentives are being offered to attract the Cracker plant.
Meanwhile, PennFuture does not help protect our air when statements are made by president Jan Jarett, such as “siting a huge new petrochemical plant in PA is "sort of like reviving our industrial heritage."
Southwest Pa is now also going to be the area of the state most impacted by gas operations. Companies are pulling rigs out of other parts of PA and shipping them to SW PA where the gas is more profitable. Commissioners from Washington County say their county bridges are straining to accommodate the industry’s heavy trucks, and that water and sewers system are becoming overtaxed with workers moving in. (County commissioners face decision on drilling fee, Latrobe bulletin, 2010-12, AP)
TAKE ACTION!! –Write to your representatives and tell them that pollution from drilling operations is significant and not sufficiently regulated. We do not additionally want a petrochemical refinery built in our part of the state.
2.State Drilling Tax is Peanuts
The impact fee enacted in the recent Marcellus law will rise and fall with the price of gas and inflation and is approximately equivalent to only a 1 percent tax according to Democrats; Republicans say 3 percent. Regardless, it is the lowest tax of any state in the United States thanks to Gov Corbett.
3. TAKE ACTION!! ON COMPRESSOR STATIONS—link from Matt, Clean Air Coalition-You do not have to live in Allegheny County
The Allegheny County Health Department is ready to approve a permit for Superior Appalachian Pipeline Co. toconstruct a compressor station in Frazer Township. The station would include 5 natural gas fired engines, 3 dehydrators/reboilers and 2 storage tanks. This station has the potential to emit tons of harmful pollutants each year into the air we all breathe, some linked to respiratory diseases, neurological issues, and cancer.
Please write your comments about this station and request a public hearing so that people can voice their concerns and have their questions answered in person. Clean Air Council has encouraged residents in other areas of Pennsylvania to write comments on natural gas permits. These residents have been successful in winning the first 4 public hearings on compressor stations ever in the state. Clean Air Council, Group Against Smog and Pollution, Marcellus Protest and Clean Water Action are teaming up to encourage residents to submit comments on the Frazer Township compressor station.
Please take a few moments to personalize the letter in any way you want. It is not important that all letters include the same concerns.

Matt Walker
Clean Air Council,Community Outreach Coordinator
Marcellus Shale Program 215-567-4004 ext. 121mwalker@cleanair.org
Note: This proposed station provides an example of the tremendous amount of air pollution emitted from these sources. Excerpted from the linked letter: “It is alarming to read that this station would emit 16.58 tons per year of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and 7.05 tons per year of formaldehyde. It is not only the direct emissions that will impact health, but the multiplying effect of some chemical reactions. It is well established that VOCs and nitrogen oxides mix to produce ground-level ozone, which causes a variety of respiratory problems including asthma. These emissions can contain fine particles and carcinogens associated with cancer, stroke and premature death. In addition, these kinds of hazardous air pollutants have been linked to elevated levels of cancer and neurological health issues.”
4. Project to Begin Studying Area Heath Problems
The Southwest Environmental Health Project, a non-profit group funded by Heinz Endowments, the Pittsburgh Foundation, and the Claneil Foundation, opened an office last week in McMurray to help those who feel their health has been affected by drilling. A nurse will make house calls in Washington County, but calls or emails from other parts of the state are welcome. They are also setting up a network of physicians to refer patients to. Dr. Helen Podgainy, a pediatrician who has treated children from Washington County said more studies need to be done assessing the health risks to those living near wells.
(Nonprofit to study gas drilling, public health, Latrobe Bulletin,2-22-12, AP)
Dr Marilyn Heine, President, of Pennsylvania Medical Society, has written an op ed that urges more research on health effects since doctors are getting questions form patients every day related to Marcellus operations and don’t have definitive answers to their questions. She says: “We must monitor and identify potential risks to public health and develop ways to minimize that risk” (editorial, Marilyn Heine, MD, 2-21-12, Latrobe bulletin)
5 EPA Looking at Pollution at Washington County Shale Operations
(Federal agency looking for violations in air, water, soil , February 13, 2012 By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Guest Editorial, Latrobe Bulletin, Pocono Record 2-23-12)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investigating whether Marcellus Shale drilling and compressor station operations in Washington County have caused environmental damage that violates federal regulations. EPA does have the legal authority to step in.
The federal investigation of air, water and hazardous materials impacts, began in late September when on-site testing was done, and will continue for several months. This is the initial stage of a possible enforcement action.
Compressor emissions including nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, airborne particulates and carbon monoxide are measured in hundreds of tons per year
Kathy Gresh, spokesperson for the DEP, would not comment. Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil welcomed the federal investigation because of “lackluster” regulation by the DEP.
6. Chloramine Instead of Chlorine Used to Treat Water
Because of high bromide (salt) levels in water, Wheeling and over 33 of plants in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia have violated the EPA’s limits on carcinogenic trihalomethanes over the last three years. The bromides from frack waste water which ends up in rivers and streams (bromides can also be produced by coal plants) then combine with chlorine to produce the trihalomethanes. Water authorities note that the spike in these problems began when fracking ‘took off’.
One of the trihalomethanes is chloroform. The hazard is considered greater from the gas-off in your shower than from drinking the water.
Chloramination is a treatment process in which ammonia diluted in water is combined with chlorinated water. Chloramine is very stable and will remain in water for weeks. Water companies say that a granular activate carbon filter is approved for chloramine removal. The NSF site for information is www.nsf.org/Certified/DWTU/
Local systems using chloramines include, SW PA Water Authority, Wilkinsburg Water Authority, and Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.
Chloramines can also cause lead from old lead pipes to be released --the pipe scale that had formed over years of chlorine treatment began to release lead into the water," Giammar says. It was a classic example of an unintended consequence.
(changes to your drinking water–notice from Evans City water and sewer authority)
7 Corbett DEP Appointee has Conflict of Interest and .. Corbett Forces Att. Stares to Resign
(Politics, resignations, add wrinkle to area's DEP office, 2- 20- 2012, Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a summary)
William Darr, the Corbett administration's appointee to chief counsel in the DEP , resigned because of a financial link to Consol Energy. He resigned rather than summit the required federal conflict- of- interest paperwork that would have shown he is eligible to receive a pension from Consol for his legal work. Tim Potts co-founder of democracy Rising Pa, said Corbett’s, attempt to politicize the job by appointing Darr is a disservice to Pennsylvanians who expect unbiased enforcement of public health and environmental regulation.
Ms. Stares, longtime regional counsel for DEP, described as a very capable excellent lawyer, was forced by the administration to resign after she refused to fire a DEP attorney who was working on a case involving Consol Energy—(a state Dept of Conservation study determined that Consol Bailey Mine caused subsidence that cracked a Dam in Greene County).
Ms Stares was told she could either resign or be fired. When she was escorted out of the building, several attorneys on her staff and other DEP employees wept. Robert Ging, an environmental attorney in Somerset County said the firing of Ms Stares seems to have had a chilling effect on the department throughout the state. “Everyone seems afraid to do their job regardless of what level they are in the bureaucracy.”
Emily Collins of U. of Pittsburgh Environmental Law Clinic, who has worked on the Consol case, said of the DEP legal staff, ‘Morale is noticeably low.”
8. New York State Supreme Court rules that NY towns can ban Fracking http://polhudson.lohudblogs.com/2012/02/21/state-judge-says-ny-municipalities-can-ban-hydrofracking/
A state Supreme Court judge in New York determined that is within its rights for a town to ban hydrofracking and natural gas drilling within its limits, setting up an expected showdown in a state appeals court. More than 50 New York communities have enacted bans.
Judge Phillip Rumsey found that a clause in the state’s oil and gas law that gives regulatory power to the state does not prohibit municipalities from banning gas drilling or using its zoning laws to prohibit it. He cited case law that allowed a town to issue zoning regulations for the mining industry, and said the “supercedure clauses”in the state laws governing the mining and gas industries serve the same purpose.
9. PA Farmer Blocks Fracking Trucks 2-20-12
"Mike Bennett of Henderson Township Pa, got fed up with the big well drilling trucks from a nearby well coming down his road to take a shortcut. The road was not bonded by Township supervisors for truck traffic from this well, yet the drilling company was using it anyway, despite Mike having asked them to go the way they are supposed to go. Those trucks are supposed to use another road to get to that well.
So Mike Bennett took his white pickup truck and parked it in the middle of the road; and then he called the State Troopers and the township supervisors to come sort things out. It caused quite a traffic tie-up of big drilling trucks as you can see. I hope that his action will lead to the company being properly fined for improper use of the road."
10. Pipelines
--Cabot and Williams plan a 1,290-mile high pressure, large- diameter pipeline from Susquehanna County to New York and New England markets, requiring federal approval.
--A judge has halted work on a pipeline in Northern Pa’s pristine Endless Mountains. Landowners are fighting the company over eminent domain and say Central NY Oil and Gas refused to negotiate on monetary compensation or the pipeline route. (Latrobe Bulletin, 2-20-12, AP, Judge halts work amid gas pipeline court fight)
11. Rep. George to Introduce Injection Well Moratorium Bill
State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D of Clearfield County, today said he is seeking support for legislation he is drafting to address concerns with injection wells used to dispose or store oil and gas drilling waste.
“I receive calls and e-mails about this issue nearly every day,” Rep. George said. “People are concerned about their water and the potential dangers associated with injection wells.”
At least eight injection wells exist in Pennsylvania, and an injection well has been proposed in Brady Township, Clearfield County, to dispose of waste from the Marcellus gas drilling. Roughly two dozen applications across the state are pending. Only injection wells drilled for the disposal of waste from oil- or natural-gas-related drilling would be affected by his legislation.
My bill provides for a two-year moratorium on the drilling of any new injection wells used for disposing of oil or gas waste,” Rep. George said. “The bill will not affect existing wells. However, any wells drilled after Jan. 1 of this year, including the well proposed in Brady Township, would not be allowed to accept the drilling waste.”
12. Chesapeake Energy Fined $565,000 for Violations
Chesapeake is fined for three separate violations of rules protecting streams and wetlands in Bradford County and Potter County. In one case, sediment from a well pad discharged into a high quality stream, the sediment damaging municipal water authority treatment filters. In one case a wetland was damaged, and in fluid from a well was allowed to enter Towanda Creek.