Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jan's Updates April 10, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen Group Update- April 10
Hyperlinks are in purple.  Blue addresses : copy and paste into your browser.
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
Elections April 24thTo discuss candidates for the upcoming election:

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:
Fracking Quotes:
* “The ability of local officials to carry forward the values of the people they have been elected to serve should not be sacrificed to political pressures of special interests. Such concessions serve only to enhance the financial prosperity of a privileged few at the expense of those who make their homes in townships.” Statement from PSATS policy. (Contrary to policy, the executive committee served the gas industry by supporting Act 13. Jan)
* “I have never seen anything like this in my 37 years of practice. The new law not only hinders preventative measures for our patients, it slows the treatment process by gagging free discussion” Dr. Helen Podgainy. (fracking: Pennsylvania gags physicians, 3-18-12, by walter brasch, Dissident voice)
* “The law {Act 13} will complicate the ability of health departments to collect information that would reveal trends that could help us to protect the public health. The law is detrimental to the delivery of personal health care and contradictory to the ethical principles of medicine and public health….and this law precludes us from doing all we can to protect the public.” Dr. Jerome Paulson director of the Mid Atlantic Center for Children’ health and the Environment and professor of Pediatrics at George Washington U. (fracking: Pennsylvania gags physicians-see above reference)
On Restricting Physicians:
Under Act 13, physicians may request information about chemicals used in fracking but the company does not have to provide that information if it claims it is a trade secret. If a company releases data about chemicals used, health professionals are then bound by a non-disclosure agreement that not only forbids them from warning the community of water and air pollution but it forbids them from telling their own patients what the doctor believes may have led to their health problem.
A strict interpretation of the law would also forbid practitioners who sign the non-disclosure agreement from notifying a specialist about the chemical, thus delaying medial treatment. (Fracking: Pennsylvania gags physicians, 3-18-12, walter brasch, Dissident Voice)
**Lawsuit Filed --Resolutions From Townships Urged
Attached to this WMCG Update is a resolution supporting the lawsuit against Act 13. Act 13 precludes the use of local zoning to restrict gas operations in residential areas, restricts doctors in sharing important health data, and limits counties in the use of the impact tax (a partial list).
Commonwealth Court has allowed for an expedited hearing on the lawsuit.
The communities involved in the suit and other plaintiffs are trying to stop the law from going into effect before April 15. Beating that deadline is critical to any effort to stop the law's implementation and to get breathing room for municipal governments that are trying to regulate the location and setup of well sites, according to several lawyers.
TO DO: Please print the resolution and take it to your next township supervisors’ meeting to request their support for this lawsuit. Supervisors should return the signed resolution to Brian Coppola.
The resolution would not attach to this update so i will forward it separately. jan

Excellent reference: Top Ten Myths about Act 13 by Sierra Club

**Use Link to Take Easy Action -Ask President Obama To Protect Air from Fracking Pollution
“Right now, the American Petroleum Institute -- an industry group only interested in their bottom line when it comes to fracking -- is waging an eleventh hour battle to weaken air pollution rules for natural gas drilling. Big Oil and Gas have taken this fight to the White House, and we need your help to remind the President what we want – clean air and no loopholes for the fracking industry.”
Sierra Club
Westmoreland County Commissioner Meeting-This Thursday
Jan Kiefer is coordinating this effort to have representation from the group at each of the next two months of meetings as the discussion of the impact fee evolves. Please email jan and/or me if you can attend -- jan milburn-
The next meeting dates: April 12th and April 26th at 10:00 AM at the Westmoreland County Court House
Environmentalists advocate for the fee being 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. See our blogspot under testimonies (address above) for comments made at the last meeting.
1. LathropCompressor Station Exploded –Williams Ignores DEP and Re-Starts Station Anyway
(Compressor issues affect all of us. Being familiar with the problems and working to get better regulations for specific stations, is a step towards better regulations for all compressor stations. Jan)
According to an early report by Laura Legere, Scranton Times- Tribune, the DEP admitted they were wrong about approving the investigation report regarding the incident and in actuality had not seen or approved it.
The April 5 report by Legere reports that the damaged Lathrop compressor station was restarted last week despite DEPs request that it remain shut down during the investigation until an engineer inspected the station.
Williams turned on some of the 7 compressor engines at the Lathrop station without permission after the state denied the company’s request to begin operating in a limited capacity. Williams Co. said safety was never compromised and they misunderstood. DEP spokeswoman responded that the agency’s advice to not run the station was clear and officials are disappointed with the company.
Two engines were damaged when a valve was left on during maintenance work, gas seeped into the building, and then ignited resulting in an explosion.
There is no plan for an enforcement action by the DEP. Joe Minott, director of Clean Air Council, was quoted as“insisting that the DEP stand up for residents and demand that operations stop until an investigation of the incident is completed and reported back to local residents”.
(DEP: Williams restarted damaged compressor without state ok, by laura legere, 4-5-12, times tribune)
From Matt Walker-Clean Air Council
What you can do:
--Call DEP’s NE Office 570-826-2511
Points to comment on and question :
-Halt all operations at the Lathrop station until DEP can ensure that the incident has been properly investigated
-Has DEP officially investigated the incident themselves?
-Has DEP approved a detailed report submitted by Williams?
-How did DEP monitor air quality at the time of the explosion? Will DEP issue any violations?
-Has Williams developed a plan to prevent future disaster?
-Request a closer review of other compressor stations that use similar equipment
To report Problems:
Clean Air Council has an online survey form to report problems (unusual odors, sounds, visible emissions.). The Council collects this data and sends it to other agencies so they are aware of the extent of problems.
To report problems to the DEP: 1 866 255 5158
2. Pipeline Comes To Westmoreland- Eminent Domain Possible
Post by Dick Byers
“Last week at the Westmoreland Conservancy board meeting we had three public relations people from the Williams pipeline company out of Houston, Texas, on hand to answer our questions about the gas line coming through two of our reserve properties. The Reps were there to ask our permission to do a biological and archeological survey of the route the pipeline will follow through the King and Tomer Reserves.
One of our members point blankly asked if we said no if they would condemn our property and take it by eminent domain. They smiled and said they'd rather not do it that why, but yes, they'd take our property by eminent domain, so we really had no choice in the matter. The pipeline is coming through our land whether we like it or not. I asked what they would do if their survey found an endangered species on conservancy lands such as the Indiana bat. From what I got of their answer, that wouldn't stop them. They would work with the game commission, the EPA, whatever, to figure out a way to get around it. I didn't ask about endangered plants, but I believe they'd get them transplanted to some other part of the reserve rather than reroute the whole project. Their biological survey is not really to protect the environment as they claim, but simply to remove all legal obstacles that might get in their way before they begin construction.
The rough map I saw brings the line diagonally right though the heart of Westmoreland County starting through Murrysville, then passing north of Greensburg, south of Latrobe, over the ridge and down the Ligonier Valley with a compressor station in Donegal Township just a couple of miles from me. From there it continues south to join the pipeline cutting across the bottom of the state. If it passes though your property, you may as well cooperate, or otherwise lose your land by eminent domain in this so-called Land of the Free.
This pipeline really isn't necessary, but is responding to the many Marcellus gas wells in the area that will probably build more connecting pipelines to it in order to more conveniently transport their gas out of the area. That simply means more pipelines going through people’s private property. Some 60,000 wells are expected to be drilled in Pennsylvania over the next 30 years, each with a leaky deadly poisonous frackwater pond. If you’ve been staying with the news, you’re learning there is no safe way to extract Marcellus gas. Check the NY Times archives and read“The Fracturing of Pennsylvania” article that describes the horrors of frackwater contamination of our groundwater resources.”
(by Dick Byers, Newsletter Editor of the Westmoreland Bird and Nature Club, Ligonier Living).
3.Double Standard—Drilling Risks Disclosed to Shareholders ButNot Families
Because of disclosure requirements in federal securities law, some companies have described to shareholders in explicit terms the potential dangers of their work, including leaks, spills, and explosions. Chesapeake touted in its annual report in March that its efforts to lease land for private owners was a ‘land grab.’”
However, those same risks were not conveyed to landowners by the gas companies and land acquisition companies working for Chesapeake according to a report by Environmental Working Group.
A statement by Cabot in its 2008 securities filing of the company’s performance was typical: “Our business involves a variety of operating risks, including: well-site blowouts, cratering and explosions; equipment failures… pollution and other environmental risks.”
The chief executive of a property acquisition company told the “Times” that his company did not provide the disclosure because they believed the risk was very low and because companies reaped no benefit from such disclosure to landowners.
(landowners left out of the loop on fracking risks, neela banerjee, los angeles times,12-12 11)
4. Fracking Chemicals and Breast Cancer
Chemicals linked to cancer are present in nearly every step of extraction. According to some reports, more than 25% of the chemicals used have been linked to cancer or mutations including napththalene, benzene, and acrylamide. Benzene, which has been classified by the EPA as group A human carcinogen, is released during fracking through air pollution and has been found in the water. The Institute of Medicine released a report in December 2011 that links breast cancer to exposure to benzene.
Up to 37% of the chemicals in fracking fluids are endocrine disruptors that can have developmental and reproductive effects. According to the EPA, they are also implicated in breast cancer.
Even in counties where traditional gas drilling is present, there are consistently higher cancer death rates than counties without drilling activity. For women this included breast cervix, colon, endocrine glands, larynx, ovary, rectal, uterine, and other cancers.
Toluene released as gas at the wellhead and found in contaminated water has the potential to harm pregnant women or women wishing to become pregnant. Toluene can cause developmental disorders in children born to pregnant women exposed to the chemical. Pregnant women also have an increase risk of spontaneous abortion when exposed to toluene. Wyoming failed to meet federal standards for air quality due to fumes containing toluene and benzene.
(fracking frenzy’s impact on women, by sara jerving, 4-4-12, published by
5. State Supervisors’ Organization (PSATS) Criticized- Director’s Salary $371,210
Derry Township is pushing for information about the current salary of PSATS executive director, Keith Hite. Derry officials want more details since the organization is funded in part by tax dollars and they assert that his pay is too high. Several townships, including Silver Spring in Cumberland County have cancelled their memberships in the organization, voting unanimously to cut ties with PSATS because of Hite’s salary and because PSATS refused to reveal his pay. In 2006, Hite was paid $371,210. By comparison, the director of PA School Boards Assoc was paid $170,074 and the Sheriffs Assoc. director made $67,562
Other townships defend PSATS as their best lobbyist. PSATS supports a staff of 54 people and has $10 million in revenue. Townships dues are based on population; average membership dues are about $700.
South Fayette Township also does not belong to PSATS.
(Correction of April 1 newsletter—The $4,000 fee mentioned was based on a larger township and does not represent the membership fee across the board.)
6. PSATS –State Supervisors Assoc. –New Leadership is Needed As PSATS Violates Its Own Policy to Support Act 13
PSATS’ Policy Statement, states that theorganization opposes any legislation that would reduce or eliminate local land use decisions. Obviously this is contradictory to their behind- the- scenes support of Act 13, (HB1950). Many are now saying that the executive committee needs to be exposed, held accountable, and ultimately voted out of office in May.
To read PSATS policy statement, go to, under legislation & policy, and then click on policy statement.
Some examples of policy that contradict recent action on Act 13 include:
Page 9...The ability of local officials to carry forward the values of the people they have been elected to serve should not be sacrificed to political pressures of special interests. Such concessions serve only to enhance the financial prosperity of a privileged few at the expense of those who make their homes in townships.
Page 24... PSATS opposes any legislation that would reduce or eliminate a municipality's authority to make local land use decisions.
Page 26... Compliance with local zoning. The commonwealth and all of it's agencies and political subdivisions must recognize and abide by township land use and all local zoning and land use ordinances, without exception.
7. High Breast Cancer Rates in Texas Drilling Area
In Texas, breast cancer rates rose significantly among women living in the six counties with the most intensive gas drilling while, by contrast, breast cancer rates declined in the rest of Texas.According to a 2011 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the six counties in the western Dallas-Fort Worth area have the highest rates of invasive breast cancer in Texas.
In 2010, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality inventoried emissions sources from gas production equipment in all 24 counties of the Barnett Shale. The six counties with the most production equipment are Denton, Hood, Johnson, Parker, Tarrant and Wise counties - the same six counties with high breast cancer rates.
(breast cancer rate climbs up, peggy heinkel-wolfe, 8-11, Denton Record Chronicle) and (Barnett shale has highest rates for invasive breast cancer,txsharon,
8. Doctor Paulson on Childhood Exposures
Dr. Jerome Paulson , Director of Mid Atlantic center for Children’s Health and the Environment, testified before the House committee on Environmental Matters in Maryland in February.
He discussed means of exposure and why children should receive special protection, noting that exposures to pollutants when the mother is pregnant can lead to physical deformities as well as developmental delays. Exposure after birth can lead to developmental problems and malfunction of organ systems. He notes there is a lack of data to document widespread adverse human health consequences resulting from gas operations. However, he says there are a number of hazardous chemicals related to fracking and a number of very plausible and in some cases documented, routes of human exposure.
Dr. Paulson states that the center has been fielding calls from individuals in SW PA where fracking is occurring. . He supports a moratorium.
(Testimony of Jerome Paulson, Director Mid-Atlantic center for Children’s Health and the Environment, House Committee on Environmental Matters Maryland General assembly on Hydraulic Fracturing,)
9. Sheep Die After Consuming Condensate
Studies continue to surface on the affect of the ingestion of frack fluids and condensates on animals and their preference to consume those chemicals over water. According to a 1992 journal article, 200 sheep were exposed to gas condensate, a mixture of hydrocarbons obtained during collection of gas from wells. Although they had access to water, the ewes consumed toxic doses of condensate that had contaminated surface water. 8 died and the reminder became ill. The majority died of aspiration pneumonia, but myocardial degeneration and necrosis, renal tubular damage, gastritis, enteritis, and meningeal edema and hyperemia were also observed. Chromatographic analysis identified hydrocarbons in the tissues and provided proof of the contamination sources. The synopsis did not state the location of the accident.
(Beck, Hepler, and Hansen, the acute toxicology of selected petroleum hydrocarbons, In Applied toxicology of petroleum hydrocarbons, advances in modern environmental toxicology, Princeton Scientific Publishing. Princeton NJ)
10. Permissible uses of impact fee funds for Counties:
The following uses are the only uses of the impact fee that are approved by Act 13. (Counties are responsible for dispersing the funds.)
-Roads, bridges and public infrastructure construction, repair and maintenance
-Water, storm water and sewer systems
-EMA and Public Safety
-Environmental: Trails, Parks, Recreation, Open Space, Floodplain Management, -Conservation Districts and Ag Preservation
-Tax reduction
-Housing projects
-Records management + GIS + Info technology
-Social Services + Judicial Services
-Capital Reserve + Gas Worker Training
-Local or regional planning as per PA MPC
(from : penn state webinar)
11. Trout Unlimited Helps Stop Fracking Bill
TU opposed a bill introduce in the PA house in December by state Rep Kathy Rapp, R. –Warren. The legislation would have restricted the US Forest Services ability to regulate any surface impacts related to gas drilling in PA’s Allegheny National Forest including water withdrawals. TU mobilized 36 sportsmen’s groups to sign a letter in opposition to the bill. Legislators took the bill off the table. (Trout, spring issue, 2010)
12. 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:
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.