Monday, April 23, 2012

Jan's Updates April 23, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s Group-Updates April 23, 2012
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:

***Voting- Scorecard—How did your Legislators Score on Important Marcellus Votes?
The score card examined a series of votes leading up to the final passage of ACT 13.  Below are legislators representing Westmoreland County that through the majority of this legislation process either supported or opposed pro industry legislation.  It is not a reflection of just the final vote but the entire process.  For more information or to find your how your legislator scored visit the link below:

Don White, Mike Reese, Eli Evankovich, Kim Ward, Tim Solabay voted for the pro industry legislation .
Jim Ferlo, Ted Harhai, Joseph Markosek, and Deberah Kula, voted against pro industry legislation.

Other candidates:
So for those who are interested, the following candidates (in bold print) have expressed concerns about environment and/or drilling. These are the candidates i am aware of in Westmoreland County

Stuart Albaugh--(running against Kim Ward)--write in
Mary Beth Kuznik-(running against George Dunbar and another democrat)-endorsed by Allen Kukovich
Patrick Leyland-(running against Eli Evankovich)--write in
Harriet Ellenberger-(running against Mike Reese)

Attorney General --Patrick Murphy is running against Kathleen Kane for Attorney General and has sponsored legislation about the right to know toxic chemicals being used to frack.
He is also endorsed by NOW and labor.

"Patrick Murphy is the true progressive and leader we need to counterbalance Governor Corbett. He's the clear contrast with his opponent, Kathleen Kane, who's given tens of thousands of dollars to Republicans, including to Tom Corbett."

He has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood. His League of Conservation voters scores range from 90% to 70% for various time periods. He has a 100% on League of Women Voters Children's Health Issues Score.

to see votes on various issues you can go to the vote smart site.
To view your representatives’ record, link to either of the sites posted below:


Dr. Goldstein and Jill Krietsky- May 2, UU Church in Shadyside with (see item 6)
Sandra Steingraber, Washington and Jefferson College, April 24, 7:00
Ligonier Township Supervisors Meeting, Township Building, May 1, 7:00
For a calendar of Marcellus events:

Earth Day—Thank you to Dr Cynthia Walter, Dr. Mike Atherton, and Veronica Coptis who prepared handouts and displays and manned a booth at St Vincent’s Earth Day event, to share information about Marcellus hydrofracking.
Fracking Quotes
**“This is a travesty, a tragedy, and a crime. The wonderful views of the universe from one of the world's top "Dark Sky" viewing areas will soon be lost forever. How sad, that our children, and our children's children, will never see this incredible 'show' again. I mourn for their loss.” A Patron Of Cherry Creek Park on fracking (see item #4)
** Therefore, public health authorities are prevented from having the access to data that would enable them to determine if there is an increase in an illness that a chemical might cause. Dr. Goldstein on Act 13 (see item # 5)

All Township Residents—Call to Action !!
**Lawsuit Filed --Resolutions of Township Support 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).
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 and also to your state representatives.
If each of us takes an hour of our time to attend a supervisors meeting and request that they pass the resolution, we can lend real support to those giving so much of their lives to work for the citizens of this state.
Sample Statement: See our Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group blogspot, for a sample letter. (address is listed above)
Good references:
Top Ten Myths about Act 13 by Sierra Club-
Handout on Act 13 by Penn Future-
1. Allegheny County Council Passes Resolution
Allegheny County Councilman Finnerty's resolution in support of the lawsuit against Act 13 passed. Councilwomen Amanda Green Hawkins & Barbara Daly Danko signed on as co-sponsors, as did Councilman Palmieri.
Council members Rae, Gastgeb, Drodz and Ellenbogen abstained from the vote.
6 individuals from Marcellus Protest and Clean Water Action testified in support of the resolution. There were no speakers present who were opposed.
2. Judge Tells Industry and Republicans They Cannot

Intervene in Lawsuit
A Commonwealth Court judge has denied a request by the gas-drilling industry and top Republican legislators to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's new Marcellus Shale law.
Judge Keith B. Quigley wrote that the legislators do not have a "legally enforceable interest" in defending the intent behind their law-- that the interests of the industry will be represented by the state as it defends the constitutionality of the law.
The judge turned down requests to participate in the case by Senate President Pro-Tem Joe Scarnati and House Speaker Sam Smith, as well as those by industry trade associations and companies.
Judge Quigley had granted a 120-stay to the portion of the law affecting local zoning rules. The remainder of the law went into effect on Saturday.
(Karen Langley / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
3.EPA Passes Limited Air Regs. -But not until 2015
Summary From Matt Walker—Clean Air Council
These regulations are a step in the right direction as far as requiring proper oversight of air quality issues associated with natural gas operations. At the same time, there are definitely areas where EPA could improve. For instance, EPA is delaying technology standards for compressor stations and they have not set specific standards for methane– we will continue to push them to do these both as soon as possible.
Limited and Delayed (Summary from Pro Publica)
“On April 17, 2012, the (EPA) issued cost-effective regulations, required by the Clean Air Act, to reduce harmful air pollution from the oil and natural gas industry. The measures are designed to allow continued, growth in oil and gas production. A key rule targets one of the largest sources of toxic air pollution — the burst of gas released during the first few days after a well is first tapped but before production begins. The EPA requires that companies start using “green completions,” a technology that captures the released gas and fumes in tanks and transports them via pipelines to be sold as fuel. (The Natural Resources Defense Council has a good breakdown of the process).
Green completion is already used by many companies. One gas company noted that the system doesn’t cost the company “any more than just venting the gas into the atmosphere.” The EPA says that once companies buy the necessary equipment to separate and collect the released gas, they could make up to $19 million a year selling the captured gas.
“By ensuring the capture of gases that were previously released to pollute our air and threaten our climate, these updated standards will not only protect our health, but also lead to more product for fuel suppliers to bring to market,”according to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
But for the next two and a half years, companies are allowed to burn off, or “flare,”the excess gas .
The gas industry lobbied hard for the delay in implementation of the regulations.”
(by Lena Groeger
ProPublica, April 19, 2012)
4. Dark Skies lost to Marcellus Drilling
In addition to the major sources of pollution the result from the gas industry, there are many things that enrich our lives in so many little ways that are also lost.
Cherry Springs State Park is nearly as remote and wild today as it was two centuries ago. Its dark skies make it a haven for astronomers. Named for the large stands of black cherry trees in the park, the 48-acre state park is surrounded by the 262,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest.Cherry Springs has been recognized by the International Dark Sky Association as a "Gold Tier" Dark Sky Park and designated by PA DCNR as Pennsylvania's First Dark Sky Park. It is the location of the darkest night sky East of the Mississippi.” (DCNR)
But the area's night sky is compromised because of light pollution from Marcellus well drilling sites that do gas flarings and use unshielded light fixtures. As of April 2011, over 2000 wells have been drilled in PA with an estimated 100,000 wells planned.”
Comment from an area resident: “This is a travesty, a tragedy, and a crime. The wonderful views of the universe from one of the world's top "Dark Sky" viewing areas will soon be lost forever. How sad, that our children, and our children's children, will never see this incredible 'show' again. I mourn for their loss.”
5. Act 13 --Industry Trumps Public Health
“If a child playing near a drill site becomes ill and the physician determines it is likely due to exposure to a drilling chemical, the physician must sign a non-disclosure agreement to find out the name of the chemical---agreeing to not reveal the name of the chemical to the public. Yet, doctors say it is a breach of a doctor’s responsibility to not report a public health threat.
The law also allows companies to keep secret from doctors information about toxic drilling waste that comes up from the ground when fracking. These toxins can include arsenic, barium, brine components, and radioactive compounds.
Therefore, public health authorities are prevented from having the access to data that would enable them to determine if there is an increase in an illness that a chemical (the identity of which is also kept secret to the authorities) might cause. Act 13 would be very different if public health officials had been consulted.
Act 13 did not provide funding for the Dept of Health.”
Summary from : (gas law punts on public health, Goldstein and Kriesky, 3-11-12, Post Gazette.
6. The Human Factor -Carol Moten
Carol Moten and neighbors in Washington County noticed their well water began to smell--next came headaches, skin lesions, and diarrhea. The children had nosebleeds and a 2-year old dog died suddenly.
Moten and her neighbor Donald Allison visited Dr Pare because of their skin infections. Allison’s health deteriorated and he died in March at age 46 from what neighbors thought to be bone cancer.
The actual content of the chemicals used is a closely guarded secret. It was reported in 2010 that nanotechnology is being used in a new generation of drilling fluids.
Center for Disease Control stated that site-by-site work is turning up data of concern although they declined to say for certain the drilling poses a threat to public health. Pathways to exposure are many—via the air at well sites, impoundment pits, and compressor stations…livestock and recreational fish.
Corbett’s 52-member advisory panel on drilling had no members with health expertise according to an analysis by professors at University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.
In Louisiana, 17 cows foamed at the mouth and fell dead within an hour after they allegedly lapped up fracking flowback that had leaked into a Louisiana field from a nearby fracked gas well. Although the companies denied their material killed the cows, they entered into agreements with regulators under which they each paid a $22,000 fine for failure to report the spill and other infractions.
The incident let to the Bamberger/Oswald study. The researchers published a report in the peer -reviewed journal New Solutions analyzing 24 cases in 6 states involving animals and human health problems. Typically, the animals suffered death or reproductive problems after drinking water from contaminated wells, ponds or streams. Humans suffered from burning eyes, nose and throat, headaches and dizziness, rashes, vomiting and diarrhea.
The researchers documented cases where animals exposed to chemical contaminants were not tested before slaughter. They noted that gag orders were hindering collecting evidence. Drillers were known to compensate owners for animal deaths or illnesses in exchange for their legally binding silence.
The SW PA Environmental Health Project opened a clinic in Mc Murray to treat resident of Washington, Green, and Fayette counties who believe their health has been or could be compromised by drilling. The clinic has seen patients complaining of nosebleeds, rashes, headaches, fatigue, and other symptoms.
Dr. Pare noted that the wealthier more educated residents who are sick are suing gas companies; but the poorer patients, many of whom live within 1000 feet of a compressor station or open frack pit, are fending for themselves because officials seem overwhelmed.
(Cuomo and Corbett ignore health concerns from gas fracking, by peter mantius, natural resources news service 3-9-12)

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s 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.