Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jan's Updates May 14, 2012

 Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group Updates
Links in blue: copy and paste

For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us at facebook.

For information on the state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-

Fracking Quotes

***“It’s my way of showing disdain for the legislation”’, Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas on Act 13.

***"The sealed court records in this case are part of a widespread pattern of industry secrecy," Mr. Gerhart, Earthjustice attorney . "In the face of a nationwide gas drilling boom and the troubling reports of related health impacts, we cannot afford to let this pattern continue."(on gag orders and nondisclosure)

** “Non disclosure agreement with private landowners and disclosure exemptions are preventing doctors from doing their jobs and protecting the public,” Dr Jerome Paulson, physician and director of Mid Atlantic Center for Children’s; Health and the Environment.


***Protest Act 13 at House Republican Policy Committee hearing in Beaver County on Tuesday, 15th

The PA House Republican Policy Committee is holding a public hearing on “Marcellus Shale Water Safety Issues” on Tuesday in Beaver County.These are the people who brought us Act 13!

Clean Water Action and some Beaver County activists are holding a protest/press conference outside this event to highlight how these legislators made it impossible for Beaver County communities (and others) to protect their local water supplies.


Tuesday, May 1512:30 pm

Entrance to the Club at Shadow Lakes

2000 Beaver Lakes Blvd. in Hopewell Twp.

15001-6422 • TEL: 724-375-5511

(for directions don’t use google maps, use this link:http://www.clubatshadowlakes.com/directions.html

The ‘public hearing’ is starting at 1:00pm inside the Club.However, there is just a panel of speakers, there is no opportunity for the public to make comment or ask questions.

However, please try to stay and attend after the press conference as one of the speakers, Bob Schmetzer, needs you to show your support.Bob is on South Heights Borough Council and has been very active in fighting fracking in Beaver County.He will be the only good speaker on the panel and he needs your support.

More info on the House Republican event is at this link:http://www.repchristiana.com/NewsItem.aspx?NewsID=14360

There are problems going on right now in Beaver County where public water supplies for several townships are near areas where land has been leased for drilling.Because of Act 13, there is no option for local officials to protect their water supplies.We need to hold the House Republican leadership (and all who supported them) accountable!

Please spread the word and join us!Thanks.

Myron, Clean water Action

*** Marcellus Monitoring Workshop-May 18Murrysville


*** Ligonier Township Supervisors Meeting-June 12, 7:00, Township Building

*** Stop the Frack Attack, Washington DC July 28,http://www.stopthefrackattack.org/

(Sierra Club, Calvin Tillman, Earthworks)

*** Westmoreland County Commissioner Meeting

Jan Kiefer is coordinating this effort to have representation from the group at the meetings as the discussion of the impact fee evolves. Please email Jan and/or me if you can attend --jkief7@aol.com Jan Millburn- janjackmil@yahoo.com

The next meeting date: May 24 at 10:00 AM at the Westmoreland County Court House. This is the time to express our concerns about fracking and the effect on our county as well as impact fee use.

*** 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.

For a full calendar of Marcellus events:http://marcellusprotest.org/event_calendar

All Township Residents—Call to Action !!
**Lawsuit Filed --Resolutions ofTownship 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- http://www.sierraclub.org/pressroom/downloads/FrackingMythbustersFactSheet.pdf
Handout on Act 13 by Penn Future-

1. Ted Kopas Supports Lawsuit Against Act 13

“It’s my way of showing disdain for the legislation,” Ted Kopas-D, Westmoreland County Commissioner, told the media. “This newly enacted law preempts local zoning authority over natural gas and oil operations in all municipalities. This act is flawed. If the lawsuit helps expose the flaws in this legislation then it is good.”

Commissioners Courtney-R and Anderson-R the other hand do not support action against Act 13.

Thank you to Mr. Kopas from concerned parents and property owners in the county.

2. Romania Declares Moratorium On Fracking

Romania’s new, more progressive, government has pledged a moratorium on shale gas exploration.

3. German Government Puts Brake on Fracking

Due to concerns about environmental damage, the Economy and Environmental ministers have agreed to oppose the process.

4. David Ball Takes a Stand Against PSATS!!

David Ball, a Peter’s Township councilman, sent a letter to the head of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS), criticizing the organization for publishing a "deliberately misleading" bulletin about the legal challenge to the Act 13. The letter also says the organization has "failed miserably" in its duty to protect municipalities from having zoning, planning and other rights stripped.

Representatives from Bucks County introduced two measures that were passed by delegates at the PSATS conference, including calling for the association to "oppose any legislation that would remove, reduce, or inhibit local government authority or existing local subdivision, land use and zoning controls."

A second, resolution calls for the organization to "oppose any legislation that would pre-empt the existing authority of townships to regulate land use through zoning and land development ordinances….”

Executive Director, Sanko, said the group will uphold the resolutions -- which he acknowledged fly in the face of parts of Act 13 -- and said the group has all along supported "local determination and local control."

According to the supervisors association website, 11 of the 17 sponsors for the annual event are energy or Marcellus-related companies or groups, including Range Resources, listed as a top "platinum" sponsor, and Consol Energy as a "silver" sponsor.

Mr. Ball said he was so incensed by the actions of the organization that he would begin lobbying for a change in leadership; barring that, he would advocate that the township rescind its membership and stop paying dues of more than $2,000 a year.”

. (Peters Councilman david ball: state group is failing townships over shale law, Janice Crompton, Pittsburgh Post gazette, 5-10-12)

5.Allegheny National Forest Success-Thanks to all who took action

From David Masur, PennEnvironment

State representatives decided not to vote on the proposal that would threaten PAs only national forest, the Allegheny, from more gas drilling. The fight is not over as the issue could be revisited, but for now, we got a stay.

Drillers already have access to 700, 000 acres of state forests.

6.Lawsuit Against Act 13 Will Be Argued in June

The lawsuit filed against Act 13 will be argued before the state's Commonwealth Court between June 4 and 8.

Also, according to an order issued Wednesday, representatives from the gas trade organizations and companies will be allowed five minutes to state their objections to the suit, which ask that portions of Act 13 be overturned on constitutional grounds.

The industry previously was denied the ability to intervene by Commonwealth Court Judge Keith Quigley.

(By Brad Hundt, Staff writer bhundt@observer-reporter.com)

7. DEP Doesn’t Inform Neighbors of Gas Violations-You Tube

The DEP nor gas companies have to notify landowners or neighbors of drilling violations. Some violations can be minor but many are serious including casing problems. It can take weeks to get information about the violations.

Leasers say neighbors should go on-line to investigate violations on their own.

(CNN Money)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsWcGEDtKYA&feature=youtube_gdata

8. The Mothers Project-Letter to Michelle O’Bama

The New York Times published a letter to Michelle Obama from the Mothers Projects, an organization started by Angel Fox, Josh Fox’s mother, asking her to assist in protecting children.An excerpt from the letter:

“Our appeal is simple and fundamental to our role as mothers. We do not want children drinking milk from cows grazing on chemically contaminated pastures. We do not want children breathing benzene on school playgrounds. We do not want convoys of water and gravel trucks sharing the roadways with school buses. Nor with teenagers learning to drive. Nor with kids on bicycles. We do not want children used as subjects in a reckless experiment whose long-term consequences and cumulative impacts are not yet understood.

We do want to bequeath to our children and grandchildren an unfractured, unpoisoned world.

In December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. An initiative of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, this document stands as the most widely recognized statement of the rights to which every person is entitled. These include the right to ensure the safety and health of children and families. More recently, the United Nations has declared safe and potable drinking water a human right. As America’s current First Lady and first mother, you have been outspoken in your commitment to families, children, health, and future generations. We hope that you will now join us in our call to “hit the pause button” on drilling and fracking operations and pursue a new course. Extreme fossil fuel extraction is not the answer to our nation’s energy challenges. Our children’s health and the survival of our planet depend on policymakers and citizens joining together to commit to sustainable, renewable energy. In this, we hope that you will serve as our 21st-century Eleanor.”

9. It’s really the pits around herefrom Bob D.

Imagine if Pennsylvania’s new ‘Act 13’ goes into full effect and these pits can be 300 feet (the length of a football field - goal line to goal line) from the front door of your home… and that includes R1 residential zones! There goes the neighborhood.

Let’s take a closer look at one here in Washington County, Pa:

(This is an excellent site to see what is going on around us. Jan)

10. Wyoming Persuaded the EPA To Delay Report on Groundwater Contamination

AP investigators forced the EPA to admit it withheld vital information showing ground water contamination was linked to fracking. .

Wyoming governor Matt Mead persuaded Lisa Jackson, the head of the EPA to postpone the announcement linking fracking to groundwater contamination.The purpose was to give state officials time to try to debunk the finding before it affected the oil/gas industry. Mead ordered state officials to take a hard line on the industry’s behalf. The White House pressed the EPA to release the report.

The EPA study was the result of years of complaints from homeowners that their well water smelled of strong chemicals about the time fracking arrived in their neighborhoods 8 years ago.

Monitoring wells revealed the carcinogen benzene was as high as 50 times the EPA limit. High Ph was found along with potassium hydroxide, a basic chemical used in fracking.

Wyoming’s top state regulator for gas development is Tom Doll, a past manager for Williams Production Company.

Tome Fenton, chairman of Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens said, “Those of us living out here, we don’t trust the state.”

(Wyoming got epa to delay frack finding, mead gruver, AP, 5-4-12)

11. EPA’sDr. Armendariz Forced to Resign By Industry

The gas industry forced the resignation of EPA’s popular environmental enforcement chief for the Gulf region, Dr. Al Armendariz, beloved by environmentalists and civic leaders for his willingness to strictly enforce environmental rules. Sen. Inhofe and Republicans forced his dismissal.

Armenderiz promised to enforce the law in the gas fields and when frightened Dish citizens spoke of the dangerous and illegal practices by gas fracking companies that might jeopardize their property values, water supplies, jobs, local businesses and health, Armenderiz assured them that the EPA would enforce the law strictly.

Armendieriz’s courage won him powerful enemies”

And with Republican backing, they forced him and his enforcement of the law out of the gas fields.

(summary from : Petro Plutocracy, Robert Kennedy, Huffington Post,5-8-12)

Those of us who follow the research on the gas industry have greatly benefitted from the efforts of Dr. Armenderiz.His loss is a loss for the environmental/health community.jan

12. Mortgage Not Available Because---Drilling Next Door

Brain Smiths application for a new mortgage was denied by Quicken Loans because of a gas drilling site next door in Washington County. Two other national lenders also turned down the Smiths’ application.

The loan company stated,“In some cases conditions exist such as gas wells and other structures in nearby lots, that can significantly degrade a property’s value. In these cases we are unable to extend refinancing due to the unknown future marketability of the property.”

Brian Smith commented, “If I can’t refinance could somebody get a loan to purchase my house?...That’s definitely a worry.”

(WTYAE 5-8-12)

13. How the Fracking Industry Keeps Secret

Some leasers have signed non-disclosure agreements with gas companies, some knowingly, other unknowingly, preventing them from participating in studies on health and environmental impacts.

Simona Perry, an applied anthropologist, who has been working with rural families since 2009, said the nondisclosure agreements hamper doctors and researcher from collecting the valuable data they need to assess drilling effects on communities.

The Hallowich family is a well-known case in the western PA area. The Hallowich children began suffering from headaches, nosebleeds, burning eyes and sore throats as drilling operations expanded in their neighborhood. The Hallowichs eventually abandoned their home in a settlement with gas companies. The settlement hearing was closed to the press and gas companies persuaded the judge to permanently seal it from the public, according to the Earthjustice attorney who assumes the settlement includes a nondisclosure agreement.

The Pittsburgh post gazette and observer reporter have sought access to the court records but were denied. Earthjustice , Physicians for Social Responsibility and other groups filed an amicus brief in support of the newspapers arguing that the public needs to have access to the information about impacts on health and environment.

(Silencing communities: how the fracking industry keeps its secrets, mike Ludwig, Truthout, 5-8-12)

14. Multi Billionaire to Sue For the Right To Frack Where It is Banned in Dryden, New York

The Anschutz Exploration Corporation is involved in a suit against Dryden, New York, a little town of about 14,000 people, that has banned fracking. In late February, to the delight of anti-fracking activists, New York Judge Philip Rumsey ruled that the ban was legal. According to several reports, Anschutz's corporation has leases on over 22,000 acres of land in Dryden, investing $5.1 million in drilling operations. The company might pursue a takings claim against the town based on the idea that private property should not be taken without compensation.

In 1999 Philip Anschutz’s worth was 7 billion was labeled the nations greediest executive by Fortune magazine.

(Meet the Christian rights wind multibillionaire out to frack our work, bill berkowitz, 5-13-12)

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.
Officers: President-Jan Milburn
Treasurer-Wanda Guthrie
Secretary-Ron Nordstrom
Facebook Coordinator-Elizabeth Nordstrom
Science Subcommittee-Dr. Cynthia Walter
To receive our updates, please email jan at janjackmil@yahoo.com

Hope has two daughters, anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. St. Augustine