Monday, April 30, 2012

Updates April 30, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group
  Hyperlinks in purple. Cut and paste other links.

For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us at facebook.
For information on the state gas legislation and local control:
Upcoming Events and Meetings
Please send me an email notifying me of your local supervisors’ meeting or other events if you would like the information sent out to the group. Jan
For a full calendar of Marcellus events:
*Tour de Frack-You Can Participate For Only One Day
The ‘Tour de Frack’ promises to be one of the most celebrated local events of this coming summer. Described as ‘activism in motion’, from July 14 to July 28 cyclists may take the whole ride from Butler to Washington DC, or they may enjoy one or two day segments of the journey. Participants in ‘Le Tour’ will explore sites of proposed wells, study renewable energy sources along the ride, point out the continuing damage caused by coal mining, support local economies, and deliver personal accounts to the White House, EPA, Congress, and other bodies in DC.
For a tentative schedule of training event, visit the Tour de Frack Website.

*Ligonier Township Supervisors Meeting- May 1, 7:00, Ligonier Township Building, to urge support for the resolution. (see below)
*Westmoreland County Commissioners Meeting-Second and Fourth Thursdays, 10:00, County Court House
*Dr. Goldstein and Jill Krietsky on fracking and health- May 2, UU Church in Shadyside
* Upper Burrell Zoning Meeting
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).
HOW WE CAN HELP: 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.
Sample Statement: See our Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group blogspot, for a sample statement to supervisors. (address is listed above)
Good references:
Top Ten Myths about Act 13 by Sierra Club-
Handout on Act 13 by Penn Future-
TAKE ACTION LINK -from Clean Air Council
New DEP Permit to Cut All Public Input on Gas Equipment:
Express Your Concern Now!
Pennsylvania’s newly revised General Permit 5 (or GP-5) will continue to prevent public input on smaller engines at natural gas compressor stations, and will also essentially block all commenting and public participation for all compressor stations that are categorized as “minor sources.”
The public must show DEP that there is a groundswell of concern about losing their ability to have some input on natural gas equipment proposed and built in their backyards. This year, residents used their voices to achieve hearings on 10 compressor stations across the state, which has led to stronger air permits and has caused DEP go back to re-evaluate some permits. The proposed GP-5 does not include an individual Best Available Technology Analysis for each station and will likely result in missed opportunities to implement new technologies as they become available. Please tell DEP to stand up for public health and democracy over industry efficiency and profits.
Matt Walker Clean Air Council
Sierra Club-- Take Action on Public Hearing (summarized from Peter Wray)
One-sided testimony was presented at an Allegheny County Energy and Environment Visioning Team ‘public’ hearing on Friday. A fair portion of the gas industry’s witnesses who espoused the virtues and benefits of shale gas drilling were from outside Allegheny County. The E and E team is responsible for making recommendations to county executive Rich Fitzgerald.
-County air quality standards, particularly as related to shale gas drilling.
-Realistic assessment of economic benefits and risks of drilling in the County.
-Overall risks associated with hydraulic fracturing in Allegheny County, including water quality, emergency evacuation plans, etc.
Please submit your comments ASAP, to< Amie.Downs@AlleghenyCounty.US> with the Subject: Energy and Environment Visioning Team Comment, and include your Name and Address.
** “What company profits would be so great as to demand that neighborhoods of children and adults suffer negative medical consequences (rather than to) interfere with the (gas) owners enrichment. ..Must we continually bow to manufacturers who use risky procedures or make risky products as we did for years with cigarette companies, among others, before we finally get honest answers to what is going on?” Nancy Henley, Cockeysville, letter to the editor
** “We’ve had many years of some of these control technologies in place, and we still had our worst ozone season ever last winter.” Stephanie Kessler, Wyoming program manager for the Wilderness Society on the inadequacy of green completion of gas wells. (see item #2)
** “After fracking, when the well is about to start production, is the time period of one of the largest sources of pollution from fracking. The whoosh of pollution that rushes from the well includes hundreds of tons of chemicals including benzene, VOCs, and methane.” David Donigers on well completion, NRDC (item#7)
** In 2010, University of Texas did actual air monitoring which suggested that Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s ozone computer modeling underpredicted actual amounts of NOx by 20% . Joe Osborne ( GASP) presentation
Thank you
--WMCG appreciates the efforts of Elizabeth Nordstrom and Gloria Forouzan who created and maintained the “Marcellus at the Polls”Facebook site. Voters had access to an organized, easy-to-use reference.
--Thank you to Sierra Club and Penn Environment for sharing the “Scorecard” site, which provided votes of legislators on Marcellus legislation.
1. Statewide Election Results Better than Local
Statewide, candidates who expressed concerns about the environmental and health effects of fracking and who were endorsed at Marcellus at the Polls facebook site did well.
In Westmoreland County-- not so well. Mary Beth Kuznik and Patrick Murphy lost. Results are not yet in for write-in candidates.
There were candidates running in this election who would have worked with concerned citizens on the environmental and health problems we will increasingly be facing due to fracking in our communities. The electorate let those candidates down.
2. EPA Regs Will Not Be Enough –More Controls Needed
“In theory, the industry should be happy to implement the EPA’s new requirements since they will save companies money — as much as $19 million a year. To reduce pollution using green completion, gas-drilling companies will capture the methane and other compounds that now escape into the atmosphere. The methane, separated out from other pollutants, can then be sold at a profit. According to the EPA as many as half of fracked wells in the US that could be using this process already are.
However, that hasn’t been enough to clear up air pollution problems. In Wyoming, the rising ozone levels convinced legislators to require these controls years ago. The spikes in ozone levels in Sublette County showed up despite those rules.
“Wyoming was forced to implement our innovations because we had such a hammer fall on us, especially in 2008, when we had astronomical readings in the ozone area,”says Stephanie Kessler, Wyoming program manager for the Wilderness Society. “We’ve had many years of some of these control technologies in place, and we still had our worst ozone season ever last winter.”
(frackings the new normal, sara laskow 4-18-123) from salon

3. Residents Told Flowback Emissions Were Just Steam-- Tests Show Toxic Pollution
Independent test results affirm that frack flowback emissions are dangerous toxics, not just steam.
Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project released test results for privately- funded air testing of gas operations near the Richardson, Texas community. The tests performed by GD Air Testing Inc. prove the emissions released during fracking and flowback contained dangerous levels of toxic chemicals.
Residents paid for the independent testing because they say they cannot depend on the city or the industry. “Apparently the city represents Titan (Operations) and the gas industry instead of local residents” said resident Kim Davis.
The tests, conducted 1700 feet from the facility, detected 26 chemicals and also revealed carbon disulfide, a neurotoxin was present at twice the state level for short -term exposure. Benzene and naphthalene both exceeded the state’s long- term exposure levels by more than 9 times and more than 7 times respectively. Carbonyl sulfide, dimethyl disulfide, and pyridine were all detected above safe limits for long- term exposure.
The fact that the tests were conducted 1700’ feet from the facility proves that current setbacks are insufficient.
Chesapeake told residents who were experiencing health impacts that the emissions were only steam. When challenged to substantiate its claim with public testing, the company failed to respond.
(fracking emissions toxic, not steam, Sharon Wilson, earthworks)
4. Leaseholders Now Unhappy With Leases
(Summary from Landowners say gas companies duped them , Timothy Puko, 4-23-12, Tribune Review)
Some western PA leaseholders are now angry that they signed for only $3 an acre when the going price is $3000. Attorneys say the case will be difficult to win.
The 7 -count complaint alleges unfair business practices. They claim landmen lied about how landowner signatures were being used and threatened that drilling companies would take gas without paying if the landowners didn’t sign.
They also say they have not received money from the deal that buys drillers the right to delay drilling. The company had not drilled going into the final month of a 7- year contract in one case.
Don and Pat Bable of Lawrence County say a landman showed up at their home in 2007 with a simple pitch: Your neighbors have signed gas leases with a drilling company; sign your own for $3 an acre or drillers will take your gas for nothing; sign it now or lose your chance. The Bables said that within an hour -- and without legal consultation -- they signed a deal that netted them $129 a year and state-minimum royalties for their gas, much less than the $100,000 deals signed around the state as the gas rush exploded.
"He explained, and I took him at his word," said Pat Bable, 59, a retiree. "I feel like I was duped, and I want a do-over."
The leases were all signed by the Ohio-based Central Appalachian Petroleum. Officer, David A. Kapp, who signed and notarized the Bables' lease, declined requests for interviews. In an email, he said all the group's claims were false and declined further comment.”
5. Former DEP Sec. John Hanger Defends Drilling
Hanger defended the practice of drilling for gas at an event sponsored by Chester County Economic Dev. Council. He admits there are issues, “Yes gas does have environmental impacts, but if the standard is no impact, turn out all these lights and we’re all done.” He also defended the industry by asserting that some people have been able to set their water on fire for years.
During the question and answer session, the he was challenged by the audience about the value of drilling when there are so many environmental problems.
(In chesco, former DEO secretary touts gas drilling, by marcella peyre- ferry, 4-19-12, Journal register news service)
6. The Most Toxic Part of the Drill Process Is Flowback
“After fracking, when the well is about to start production, is the time period of one of the largest sources of pollution from fracking. The whoosh of pollution that rushes from the well includes hundreds of tons of chemicals including benzene, VOCs, and methane
Green completion reduces pollution by using mobile, trailer- mounted tanks and other equipment to capture the gases before they escape into the air. The gases are then routed back into pipelines for sale as natural gas and other chemicals.
American Petroleum Institute is pushing for delays and exemptions and exaggerating costs—saying green completions cost $180,000 a well. Other gas industry representatives dispute that figures. A Southwestern Energy spokesman, for example, said when they started doing green completion 5 years ago it cost them 1/9 that amount , $20,000 per well and now it doesn’t cost anything extra at all.”
Colorado and Wyoming already require green completions. In the year it was required in Colorado permits for drilling more than doubled. Drilling has not slowed in Wyoming either. There was no reason for the EPA to grant the industry delays.
(Leading companies already meet epas fracking air pollution standards, David donigers blog, NRDC)
7. “Common Senses” Citizen Air Monitoring
Clean Air Council is asking residents living in shale-field regions to report ANYTHING that they smell, hear or see that is out of the ordinary and possibly related to natural gas operations. Odors, visible emissions or noises may be the only indication of serious air pollution issues and environmental violations. PA DEP has the authority to take remedial action through investigations and issuing notices of violation.
We encourage the public to use our online survey form to report these disturbances and to call PA DEP to report themas soon as possible after noticing the issue (1-866-255-5158). Clean Air Council is also collecting this data and sending it to other agencies such as EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to inform them about areas of concern around the state that may warrant increased air monitoring and research. Matt Walker, Clean Air Council
8. Gas Glut
There is so much gas being produced that there is now a glut with little space left to store the swelling surplus. Stock prices have fallen in anticipation of declining profits. Chesapeake, Conoco Phillips, and Encana have announced plans to slow down, but gas production is still growing. The warm winter led to a 5 % fall in gas demand from the previous years; yet production grew 8%.
The low price of gas brought on by the glut has increased demand for gas among industrial users and utilities. Makers of chemicals, plastics, and fertilizers that use natural gas as a feedstock are expanding. Garbage trucks buses and delivery vehicles are also using more gas. Electric power producers are switching from coal to gas when possible
(natural gas glut means drilling boom must slow, AP, 4-9-12,Latrobe bulletin)
9. Class on Fracking Issues at IUP
The course will explore methods in applied ethnographic research including film making, interviews, oral history, etc. The class runs July 9-August 12. Interested Students can contact Amanda Poole (
10. Chesapeake Energy Shares
“Shares of Chesapeake Energy remained under pressure after Reuters reported that Chesapeake’s chief executive has been taking out personal loans to finance stakes in the company's wells, and using those same stakes as collateral for additional loans.
Over the last three years, Aubrey McClendon has borrowed as much as $1.1 billion, according to Reuters, citing loan documents.
The fact that the loans were not disclosed to shareholders raised concerns that McClendon may be compromising his fiduciary duty, or legal and ethical obligations as CEO, according to Reuters, which said it had more than a dozen academics, analysts and attorneys review the loan documents.
Chesapeake said the loans are permitted under a company incentive program called the Founder Well Participation Plan, which has existed since Chesapeake went public in 1993.”

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