Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1, 2012

  Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens' Updates by Jan (and more):

Hyperlinks are in Purple. All other blue links must be cut and pasted.

Marcellus Shale's Deadly Secrets-PA Just Powers Radio Ad
A radio add that will be running on KDKA radio by Pa Just Powers. They are giving it away for free to anyone in the state who want to air on their own station. Contact them at…
Added on 3/25/12

For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us at facebook.
To discuss candidates for the upcoming election:
For information on the state gas legislation and local control
Quotes of the week:
* "We started to have more patients that would have open areas or recalcitrant lesions, that bled, ulcerated, didn’t quite heal. And usually they’re on their face. "Unfortunately we did find quite a few people that did have urine that had methane in it, toluene, and hippuric acid," she said. Dr. Amy Pare discussing health problems in Washington County.
* “The greatest health impact corresponds to the relatively short term but high emission well completion period due to exposure to trimethylbenzenes, aliaphatic hydrocarbons, and xylenes.” Lisa McKenzie, PhD, MPH, lead author of the study and research associate at the Colorado School of Public Health.
1. Lawsuit Filed to Stop Act 13
For those who say there are no heroes in our society I would challenge that they are looking in all the wrong places. All of the organizations and individuals who have sacrificed time and money to work to protect the health and property of area citizens are heroes. Supervisors of the townships involved in the suit and Att. John Smith have led the way for much of the legal fight in SW PA, and to them, residents owe a debt of gratitude.
“Seven municipalities, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Dr. Mehernosh Khan filed a legal pleading in Commonwealth Court today challenging Act 13, also known as HB1950, which was signed into law by Governor Corbett. The municipalities are: Township of Robinson, Washington County; Township of Nockamixon, Bucks County; Township of South Fayette, Allegheny County; Peters Township, Washington County; Township of Cecil, Washington County; Mount Pleasant Township, Washington County; and the Borough of Yardley Bucks County.
Act 13 amends the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, preempting municipal zoning of oil and gas development. It also establishes an impact fee on natural gas. The plaintiffs are challenging the new law on the grounds it violates the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions and endangers public health, natural resources, communities and the environment.
The lawsuit details how the constitutional rights of all citizens of the Commonwealth are egregiously infringed upon by Act 13. The legal filing explains how the law strips away constitutional rights and violates equal protection principles; illegally benefits the oil and gas industry who are basically put in charge of future land use in the state; extinguishes all existing zoning and planning by permitting oil and gas operations anywhere in a municipality (including residential neighborhoods, by schools, hospitals, and day care centers, and sensitive natural and public resources); deprives municipal officials of carrying out their
legally-binding duty to protect air, water, and natural environmental values as agents and trustees of the Commonwealth; prevents municipal officials from serving and protecting their jurisdictions through encouraging beneficial and compatible uses and planning through the Municipalities Planning Code, making predictable and comprehensive planning an exception rather than the rule; perverts the Commonwealth’s Police Powers by forcing oil and gas activities into municipalities through a state- mandated ordinance that does not serve the public health, safety, morality and general welfare interests of the community; economically devastates municipalities through sanctions and unreasonable unfunded demands; among other violations.
Counsel for Petitioners: John Smith Esq, Jonathan Kamin Esq, Jordan Yeager Esq, William Johnson Esq, Maya van Rossum (Delaware Riverkeeper), Tracy Carluccio (Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network)
HOW WE CAN HELP: We will develop a letter for residents to take to their supervisors’ meeting to request supervisors’signature on a letter of support for the lawsuit. I will send it out as soon as it is completed.
2. Township Supervisors' Conference Sponsored by Range Resources and Talisman
       The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, which represents those supervisors elected by us, the public, accepted funding from the gas industry for their 2011 state conference. The top two donors were Range Resource and Talisman.
Your tax dollars, (PSAT'S average membership dues are about $700 with some larger townships paying as much as $4000) , fund your supervisors’ membership in PSATS whose endorsement of Act 13 has been cited repeatedly by Gov Corbett as proof that Act 13 has the support of local township supervisors.
Many township supervisors lobbied the executive committee of PSATS to publicly oppose Act 13 since the abrogation of zoning rights resulting from the legislation is harmful to communities. Instead, PSATS executive committee supported Gov. Corbett and the industry.
Another statement was released this week from Gov Corbett’s office citing the backing of PSATS: “A spokesman for Corbett, Eric Shirk, said Thursday the governor's office hadn't yet seen the lawsuit. But he pointed out that negotiators worked closely with associations that represent local governments, including the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, and said the administration is confident the law will withstand judicial scrutiny.
What you can do: Recommend that your supervisors drop their PSATS membership as you do not want your tax dollars to work against your best interests as a homeowner and benefit the industry.
3. Ulcerated Lesions in Washington County Patients-Methane and Toluene Found In Urine
Amy Paré is a plastic surgeon in Washington County, specializing in cosmetic procedures. Two years ago, Paré started seeing patients with an unusual condition. "We started to have more patients that would have open areas or recalcitrant lesions, that bled, ulcerated, didn’t quite heal. And usually they’re on their face," she said.
Concerned about skin cancer, Paré took biopsies of the patients. "And when we would send them off to a lab, they wouldn’t come back as a cancer but they wouldn’t come back normal," Paré said. "And then we thought, ‘Well, are these patients exposed to anything?’ So then we would ask the patients are they exposed to anything at work or at home?"
It turned out many of these patients had one thing in common: They all lived near Marcellus shale gas wells. Paré asked her patients to take a urine test. "Unfortunately we did find quite a few people that did have urine that had methane in it, toluene, and hippuric acid," Paré said.
4. Radio Ad Airs on KDKA!!
The Communities United for Rights and Environment has a 60 second spot on KDKA radio in opposition to Gov. Corbett’s Act 13 legislation. The ad airs this week and is free to anyone in the state who wants to air it on their own station. For information contact:
To hear the ad and learn how to contribute for publicity for our side:
The ad is also on youtube:
            Radio Advertisement
5. Beth Voyles Fights On
Despite the fact that the DEP tried to squash the suit, a Commonwealth court judge will allow the suit of Beth Voyles who alleges that her health problems including rashes, blisters, light headedness, nose bleeds and lethargy occurred when drilling operations including an impoundment pit were located near her home. She alleges that the site failed to comply with standards and DEP failed to issue violation notices.
Voyles states that medical tests revealed the presence of elevated levels of arsenic, benzene and toluene in her body. She also alleges that she and area residents have suffered loss of animals and water and air contamination.
She is being represented by several attorneys including John Smith of Cecil.
(judge: suit against DEP regarding Marcellus Site to Proceed, by amanda gilloly, Canon-McMillan Patch, 3-23-12)
6. Compressor Station Explodes in Susquehanna County
An investigation is to begin into how the explosion occurred. The blast sent black clouds of polluted air billowing from the station for several hours. . DEP monitored air quality after gas escaped (no results have been forthcoming at this time). DEP has permitted 7 compressor engines for the site although it was unclear how many were running at the time of the fire.
Nearby residents worry that a larger explosion might destroy their homes.
(Explosion rocks natural gas compressor station, laura legere, 3-30-12, times tribune) and
To view a video of the burning compressor station:
7.     32 Members of Congress Criticize the State Department for Selecting“Gasland”
In a letter to Hillary Clinton from congressmen, the state department is criticized for selecting the documentary Gaslandas a part of the 2012 American Film Showcase. Gasland is denounced for “presenting misleading statement and factual errors.” They also said that fracking is to praised for greatly benefitting local communities.
The congressmen state “a radical environmental agenda has taken over at the State Department. This agenda runs counter to the vast majority of Americans who want responsible American made energy. We request you remove this film from 2012 American Film Showcase. Additionally, we request information concerning the criteria for choosing these films so we may better understand how this particular film was chosen” The letter was signed by 32 members of congress.
To view the letter and signatures:
8. New Colorado School of Public Health Study Verifies Toxic Air Pollution from Drilling
For the first time, air pollution from fracking has been linked to acute and chronic health problems for people living near the drill site. A 3- year research study at Colorado School of Public Health has shown fracking increases the levels of toxic gasses in the local atmosphere, including cancer- causing chemicals.
A number of potentially toxic petroleum hydrocarbons in the air were found near the wells including benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and xylene. Also heptane, octane and diethylbenzene were present, but information on their toxicity is limited.
The greatest health impact corresponds to the relatively short term but high emission well completion period due to exposure to trimethylbenzenes, aliaphatic hydrocarbons, and xylenes”, said Lisa McKenzie, PhD, MPH, lead author of the study and research associate at the Colorado School of Public Health.
Residents living nearer to the wells have a higher cancer risk, Benzene being the major contributor to lifetime excess cancer risk.
It was noted that there was no data available on all the chemicals emitted during the well development process so it is possible the risk would have been underestimated.
9.   How Did your Legislators Score on Important Marcellus Votes?
Don White , Mike Reese, Eli Evanovich, Kim Ward, Tim Solabay have some of the worst voting records in the area, voting for the gas industry against the interests of their constituents.
Jim Ferlo, Ted Harhai , and Joseph Markosek , and Deberah Kula, stood strong to protect against the industry.
View your representatives’ record on either of the sites posted below (red dots are votes against citizens):
10. Factsheet from Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units
This is a good fact sheet to hand to local officials when speaking. An overview of issues that can affect health (the primary focus on children) is presented, including:
-Increases in particulate matter from machinery and trucks which is linked to respiratory illness, wheezing in infants, cardiovascular events, and premature death.
-VOCs that escape and combine with NOx form ozone which is linked to asthma problems and respiratory deaths
-Benzene has been found to exceed health standards and is associated with neural tube defects, decreased birth parameters, and childhood leukemia
It is noted that a distinct challenge in discussing possible health effects is the lack of research regarding the human health effects of hydrofracking.
11. Saltwater Disposal Wells in Jefferson County
Jefferson County commissioners were surprised to learn that saltwater disposal wells will soon be drilled in Sandy Lick Creek watershed. A 15- year lease has been signed between resident Steven Mitchell and EOG (formerly Enron) that would allow for a saltwater disposal well and for maintaining, repairing, operating, and related facilities including meters, separators, and pipelines.
DEP said there has been no permit filed.
A variety of contaminants typically make the salt water hazardous. So it must either be treated or disposed of in injection wells. The disposal of the salt water is a multi billion dollar per year market.
12. PASA (PA Assoc. Sustainable Agriculture) Unanimously Votes To Support Statewide Moratorium
Data contained in the Bamburger-Oswald study, (discussed in past updates), which details the loss of animals to seizures and neurological problems and records their painful deaths and reproductive problems was cited as one reason for the vote. Farmers were also concerned about the effects of methane and tainted water on the crops they grow and then sell to the public as sustainably /organically raised.
13. Shell Oil Which Has Been Accused of Environmental Violations World -Wide Plans Cracker Plant near Monaca, PA
The cracker plant in western PA will heat the wet hydrocarbons like ethane along with steam and break them down into ethylene. Ethylene is then used for many plastic compounds,
Shell’s environmental record is not re-assuring. It has been accused of environmental devastation in Nigeria, is at the center of the Corrib pipeline controversy in Ireland, is drilling off-shore in Scotland, and has accrued multi- million dollar violations of the Clean Air Act at chemical plants in Texas, Alabama, and Louisiana, in addition to 207 oil spills around the world in 2011.
From Sierra Club
14. Judge Says Forest Service Does Not Have to Allow Use of Water For Fracking
A federal judge recently required the Forest Service to start processing drilling requests in the Allegheny National Forest. Drillers claimed the forest service violated that order by denying them use of water for fracking but the judge says the forest service can still ban the use of water as part of its limited right to control how drillers operate in their forest. (judge nixes drillers’ contempt claim in forest, AP, latrobe bulletin, 3-17-12)
15. Fewer Rigs In PA But Since Wet Gas Is Desired Some Are Moving to SW PA
There are fewer drilling rigs in PA due to low gas prices and renewed interest in oil. There is a large shift away from dry gas as companies target the “wet gas”which is used to produce products such as butane and ethane. (Wet gas is found in SW PA, jan)
In early March, 3 companies announced plans for a $1 billion gas pipeline to connect production facilities in NE PA with markets such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington. (gas drilling rigs decline in PA and nationwide, AP, 3-27-12. Latrobe bulletin)
To Help Our Cause: To donate to the Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group online, go to the Donations page at the Thomas Merton Center:
 Go to :   Thomas Merton Center  
-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
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group—Mission Statement
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.
Officers: President-Jan Milburn
Treasurer-Wanda Guthrie
Secretary-Ron Nordstrom
Facebook Coordinator-Elizabeth Nordstrom
Blogspot –April Jackman
Science Subcommittee-Dr. Cynthia Walter
Mt. Watershed Representative-Veronica Coptis
To receive “WMCG Updates” please email jan milburn at
All it takes for the gas industry to triumph is for good men to do nothing.