Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jan's Updates March 12, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group Update March 12

(Hyperlinks are in Purple)
For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us at facebook.
To view permanent documents, reports, general information and meeting information http://westmorelandmarcellus.blogspot.com/
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-
DONATIONS REQUESTED: At our steering committee meeting, 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 county residents 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 online go to the Donations page at the 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
Visual Assessment Training by Mountain Watershed Association
Do you want to help prevent pollution from Marcellus Shale development in your
community? Visual assessment training provides information on
permit tracking, air and water pollution, safety, and filing a complaint with DEP.
When: Thursday, March 29, 2012 from 6pm to 9pm
Where: Cook Township Community Center
1698 State Route 711
Stahlstown, Pa 15687
For more information call Veronica at 724-455-4200 ext. 4# or email
Quotes of the Week
“If someone is sick, you don’t first pave their driveway,” Mike Atherton speaking at the County Commissioner’s Meeting about the need for impact fees to be dedicated to the study of health problems related to fracking. He noted that roads and bridges should be taken care of by other programs.
“I hope the state is here to actually do real science and get real results and not just try to impede the work the EPA is doing.”President of Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens, John Fenton, referring to the delay of peer review of EPA’s report on water contamination since the state is now getting involved in testing.
1. Westmoreland County Commissioners Meeting-Members Make Front Page of Latrobe Bulletin
Attendance from our group was very good at the meeting on March 8. Jan Kiefer is coordinating this effort to have representation at each of the next 9 meetings as the discussion of the impact fee evolves. Please email him if you can attend -- jkief7@aol.com
(The next meetings are March 22nd April 12th and April 26th at 10:00 AM at the Westmoreland County Court House)
Environmentalists advocate that the fee be used for remediation of drilling impacts. Health/environmental projects like air and water monitoring or hiring of a staff person responsible for record keeping of that data, for example, should take precedence over non-drilling related projects
Issues Addressed at the meeting:
Proposed thus far by the commissioners is the use of fees for road and bridge repair.
Mike A. noted that road and bridge repair should be addressed by another revenue source. He emphasized that the impact fee should be used to address the impact on human health, not just infrastructure. “If someone is sick, you don’t first pave their driveway”
Cindy W. addressed the deterioration in air quality that will occur noting that Westmoreland County already has a D rating. Therefore, she proposed some of the fee be spent to monitor and document the quality of the air, water, and public health of Westmoreland County. Road repair should be paid for by those who damage the roads. She noted the significance of a possible incident at Beaver Run Reservoir where 80, 000 people would not have water.
Water buffalos have been seen increasingly in some areas. Andy reported seeing trucks dumping along an interstate highway on a Sunday night. He called the state police but there was no indication they would investigate. Commissioners advised calling a legislator. Attendees questioned calling a state legislator on a Sunday night to stop dumping.
Lou recommended training local law enforcement officers to recognize and report problems.
Homeowners are not able to get insurance to cover damages for air, water, or noise problems when caused by drilling operations from outside property boundaries. Bridget also noted that if a homeowner sells a property, the gas right can be severed and the new owner has no control over activities. Also, unseemly drills devaluate property. She knows of a particular area resident living near wells who cannot “give her home away”.
Commissioners replied that they have not yet decided how the money will be spent and that they have no legal basis to control health or other issues related to fracking.
The commissioner’s approved accepting the drilling fees which will amount to $2-4 million to the county this year.
(Latrobe bulletin, reports from members and county commissioners approve new impact gas drilling fees, by tony sonita, 3-9-12)
Mike Atherton’s and Dr. Cynthia Walter’s complete statements can be read on our blogspot. (address listed at top of updates)
Note from Cindy: please thank the Latrobe bulletin for having a reporter attend the meeting and report on this important local news.
TAKE ACTION: Email commissioners about use of the impact fees. You may want to use some of the suggestions other members discussed above.
**Joe Evan’s comments (see attachment ) provide valuable material in an easy to read format . The GASP site also has very good information you can use (info below). You can pull from these documents to write a letter.
From Gloria: We got a PUBLIC HEARING on the Frazer Twp. compressor station!
(note: We encouraged everyone to send an email requesting this hearing. Jan)
A public hearing will be held regarding the proposed issuance of this minor source installation permit on March 27, 2012 at 6:00pm, Allegheny County Health Department, Clack Health Center, Bldg. 7 Conference Room Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Phone: 412-578-Oral testimony must be scheduled by calling Ms. Adina Savage at 412-578-8115 no later than 4 PM Friday, March 23, 2012
Written copies of comments should be submitted at the time of testimony. Copies of the draft permit, the application and other relevant information are open for public inspection at 301 39th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201-1891 [412-578-8115].
*Written comments may be submitted to the Department at the same address or by e-mail at aqpermits@achd.net on or before Tuesday, March 27, 2012. A copy of the proposed Installation Permit and the original notice are also available on the Internet at http://www.achd.net .
GASP websitefor helpful info on this issue:
3. Encana Gas Doesn’t Like EPA Pavillion Contamination Report-Process Stopped
Peer review of the EPA report on contamination of water in Pavillion, Wyoming has been delayed. President of the Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens, John Fenton, said he hoped, “The state is here to actually do real science and get real results and not just try to to impede the work the EPA is doing.” The people of Pavillion had praised the EPA report of their well water which began to reek of chemicals around the time fracking increased in their neighborhoods in the early 2000’s. They asked EPA to investigate only after they met reluctance to do so by state officials
Encana objected to the EPA study, “Today’s announcement demonstrates the EPA report was rushed without peer review and the assertions aren’t supported by the data, Encana spokesman, Don Hock, said. “Additional testing should be focused on a rigorous evaluation of the taste and odor complaints on each of the domestic wells in question and on the chemistry in the domestic water well zone of the subsurface”
(EPA Wyoming tribes agree to more groundwater tests, AP,Latrobe Bulletin, 3-9-12)
{This pattern of gas companies putting political pressure on the EPA to back off so that states, arenas where the gas industry exerts even more political clout, have more control over regulation of the industry is becoming too common. Citizens know full well that the involvement of states in an effort to supercede the work of the EPA does citizens no good and benefits only the gas industry. The “rigorous evaluation of taste and odor complaints” by state agencies is too often a euphemism for discrediting residents as resulted in PA residents being told their well water odor was from slugs or the acrylonitrile in their water was from a plastic lawn ornament. jan}
4. NOAA Finds Air Pollution from Drilling Operation Far Higher than thought
A soon-to-be-published study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that airborne emissions from gas drilling are far higher than previously believed, causing alarm among scientists about climate change implications.
When burned, natural gas is far cleaner than other fossil fuels like coal and oil, butunburned natural gas, or methane, is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas.
Unburned methane is a major concern because it often leaks from pipes, compressor stations and drilling sites and there has been heated debate about whether proponents of more natural gas drilling are accurately accounting for the harmful effects of these leaks. The NOAA study, which took air samples from gas fields near Denver, Colorado, focused not on pipeline leaks, but air emissions tied directly to drilling. The federal scientists found that drilling companies are releasing roughly 4% of the gas from their wells directly
into the atmosphere, more than double prior official estimates. This corroborates findings by scientists from Cornell, who concluded last year that natural gas may be worse than coal when it comes to global warming.
(gas drilling may be leaking twice as much gas as previously thought, study finds by Nicholas Kusnetz, InsideClimate News, 2-9-12)
5. Important US Geological Survey Report Released
{The information contained in the following report discusses many of the water contamination issues raised by members of our group at meetings and hearings. Why are those concerns being taken seriously in New York where the US Geological Survey produced a report detailing contamination problems from drilling, but not in Pennsylvania? Many of the geohydrologic issues are the same but PA rushed into a drilling frenzy with insufficient study and consultation with experts outside the gas industry Jan}

The US Geological Survey, the federal government’s expert on the geology and hydrology of oil and gas drilling, is widely regarded as impartial and authoritative on drilling issues. The USGS is putting pressure on NY Gov. Cuomo to not proceed with a drilling plan that could endanger water wells, municipal aquifers and the NYC drinking water supply. Costs of a clean up would be tremendous—a water filtration plant costing at least $8 billion with a yearly operating expense of $200 million and even then there is not guarantee the water could be purified.
USGS say NY plan is flawed in several ways:
*A 500 foot buffer around aquifers that supply municipal water systems is a one size fits all that may provide only partial protection to aquifers
*A 500 foot buffer for water wells and springs provide limited protection and does not take local geohydrologic conditions and topographic setting into account.
Changes from drilling can occur at significant distances from a disturbance-especially if a water well is downhill from a well pad.
*The map used by the state grossly under -represents the number and extent of faults in the Appalachian basin. Ground that is riddled with faults could channel pollution from drilling in to underground aquifers.
*Information is incomplete on underground freshwater sources that could be polluted by drilling. Drillers should maintain detailed logs that would identify and protect these aquifers.
*USGS disputes the state’s premise that drilling could be safely conducted 500 feet from water supplies. USGS said in some cases, drilling might need to be prohibited within 5 miles of aquifers to protect them.
*In Colorado, Ohio, and PA, gas contaminants have polluted underground water supplies at distances much further than 500 feet. In Garfield, Colo, poor cementing caused gas and contaminants to travel more than 4000 feet laterally which contaminated a creek with benzene. After 7 years, three ground water monitoring wells near the creek still show unsafe levels of benzene.
*In Bainbridge, Ohio, drilling contaminated 23 water wells, 2 were more than 2300 feet from the drill site.
*In Dimock, 3 of the wells contaminated were farther than 1000 feet from the wells. Cabot still disputes the findings.
*New York’s water aqueduct, an underground tunnel that brings water to the city from the Catskill Mountains, could be endangered. Naturally occurring underground pathways near the tunnels can extend up to 7 miles laterally and up to 6000 feet in depth. These mechanisms could permit migration of contaminants. The city has recommend barring drilling within 7 miles of several aqueducts and 2 miles from other water tunnel.
*The USGS reports that the depth of underground drinking water sources are not well documented and must be so that drillers can designs casing and cementing to prevent migration of gas or saltwater into underground drinking water supplies.
(Federal Scientists Warn NY of Fracking Risks, by Dusty Horwitt, Senior Counsel EWG, 2-29-12)
6. Public Comments Do Help -Improvements Added to
Compressor in Lycoming
The Clean Air Council and PA residents wrote public comments about the permit application for the Barto Compressor Station in Lycoming County. DEP indicates that they still plan to issue this permit, but they also made two changes based on public comment that will help protect public health – a victory in itself. One change dealt with requirements to optimize engine performance and prevent blow-downs. The second change requires Chief to perform emissions tests about every 100 days. Quotes from the document :
“As a result of evaluation of the Gas STAR recommendations, the Department has included additional maintenance requirements to optimize the operation of the engine, and requires the ESD (Emergency shutdowns) system and purge pressure shut down controls to be operated in such a way as to prevent blow down of gas into the atmosphere.”
“…the Department is now requiring additional emissions testing every 2500 hours of operation of these engines.
Matt Walker Clean Air Council
7. Diesel Spill into Pristine Patterson Run Creek, Greene County
480 gallons of diesel fuel spilled when the fuel was being emptied from one EQT Co. tank to another near Patterson Run in Center Township, Greene County. The spill occurred on Dec 8, but DEP was not required to alert the public and did not do so, consequently news sources were not informed. Contaminated soil was vacuumed and dug up accorded to an EQT spokesperson.
8. Ban on Treating Wastewater in Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls City Council voted to ban the treatment of wastewater from fracking. Sam Fruscione, the Niagara Falls, New York council chairman,
summed up his views on the question of the city dealing with the fracking waste this way; “You’re talking about putting it in people’s drinking water,” he said. “People are worth more than millions of dollars. … so in my mind I’ll have a good conscience walking away thinking I did the right thing for the community and I didn’t sell out to money.”
(Latrobe Bulletin 3-7 -12, Niagara falls won’t treat drilling wastewater)
9. Tom Corbett Being Sued Over Money Made from Drilling State Forests
Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation sued Gov. Corbett to stop the state government from using money from gas drilling in publicly owned forests for anything other than improving public lands. Both Govs. Rendell and Corbett used money from leases and royalties on state forests for general government expenditures in violation of a constitutional provision to conserve and maintain public resources. (lawsuit targets pa’s use of forest drilling money, AP, 3-12, Latrobe bulletin)
10.Truck Overturns on Pandora Road, Bradenville
Haz Mat responded to a crash involving a truck said to be carrying water for drilling operations. No spill was reported but there were no further details as of Thursday’s news.
(water truck overturns on Pandora road, marie mccandless, 3-9-12, latrobe bulletin)
11. In Austria, Farmers and Tourism Stakeholders Unite (from Sandra Steingraber)
Feel free to repost and send a congratulatory note to Andreas in
response to his last sentence below.
We have reached an important target in our anti-shale gas campaign in Austria. Today the two governing mayors of the towns Herrnbaumgarten and Poysdorf announced that they will not give their permission for the two planned test-drillings at the beginning of 2013.
This target was reached because of the massive resistance against the shale gas project of the following groups: farmers, wine-farmers, tourism stakeholders and a lot of people who have given their sign against this project. So as a result the oil and gas drilling company OMV announced that the project will be stopped after a dramatic loss of public confidence due to wrong and poor information strategy.
Our major target now is to force the government to change the law so that shale gas exploration will be banned in the future.
We are very happy about this message today and it shows us and everybody that the work we do is so important for us and the next generations living in our loved homelands.
Bye, Andreas Czezatke,3-2-12 www.weinviertelstattgasviertel.at
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group—Mission Statement
To raise the public’s general understanding of the impacts of Marcellus drilling on the natural environment, health, and long-term economies of local communities.
To work for the protection of environment, health, and property values in county communities.

Officers: President-Jan Milburn
Treasurer-Wanda Guthrie
Secretary-Ron Nordstrom
Facebook Coordinator-Elizabeth Nordstrom
Blogsite –April Jackman
Science Subcommittee-Dr. Cynthia Walter
Mt. Watershed Representative-Veronica Coptis

All it takes for the gas industry to triumph is for good men to do nothing. jan