Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jan's Updates May 7, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group Updates May 7
Links in blue: cut 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-
***Stop the Frack Attack,Washington DC July 28, http://www.stopthefrackattack.org/
(Sierra Club, Calvin Tillman, Earthworks)
***Westmoreland County Commissioner Meeting-This Thursday
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 dates: May 10 and 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
President’s Report- Actions I have taken on behalf of the group this month:
-Wrote and submitted to the Allegheny County Visioning Team a statement on issues related to development of the gas industry
-Phone interview with BBC about fracking in our area. Veronica Coptis located a site for the reporter to tour.
-Responded to legislators’ questions about fracking and the Scorecard voting record.
- Submitted a statement to DEP about the lack of regulation on “minor” air pollution sources, the cumulative effect of which is not minor.
Other Activity:
-Group members have attended the Ligonier, Hempfield, Upper Burrell, Murrysville, and Mt Pleasant Township supervisors meetings to present statements urging passage of the resolution supporting the lawsuit against Act 13. (There may be others I am not yet aware of.)
All Township Residents—Call to Action !! Please Continue in your efforts to get resolutions signed!!.
**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- http://www.sierraclub.org/pressroom/downloads/FrackingMythbustersFactSheet.pdf
Handout on Act 13 by Penn Future-
Please join us to fight back against Act 13!
This law stripped Pennsylvania's local communities of their right to control gas drilling in their townships. Under the new law, a municipality cannot even challenge a permit issued to a driller, even if DEP ignores all the community's concerns.
Let's join together!
In community after community, citizens have been speaking out against this giveaway to the natural gas industry. In Bucks County's Nockamixon Township, a drilling company filed a permit to drill the day Gov. Corbett signed Act 13. Until that day, the township's zoning ordinances prohibited gas drilling in its residential zone. Since all of Bucks County's Republican legislators voted in favor of Act 13, they have become the target of local protests over this preemption of local authority. In response, several legislators have announced plans to introduce legislation to roll back some of Act 13's local preemption language.
We can't back down! Tell your legislators that they must restore ALL local government powers taken away with the passage of Act 13.
The gas drillers thought that the battle was over on the day Governor Corbett signed Act 13. They were wrong! We can build on the momentum of the current outrage and make it clear that the citizens of Pennsylvania will not accept Governor Corbett's giveaway to the drillers.
If the gas industry is allowed to bring their industrial activities into your residential area, other polluting industries will want an exemption from local control, too. Local governance is essential to protecting our health and safety. Make your voice heard!
Link to take action: http://alleghenysc.org/?p=6733
Thomas Au, Conservation Chair, Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter
P.S. Share this alert with your social networks:
Fracking Quotes
** “To suggest that the interests of the industry are not represented in this Commonwealth… is like suggesting that Steeler fans aren’t represented at Heinz Field. Industry …was intimately involved in Act 13 within the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth has come before the court to defend Act 13.” (Statement by Att. Jordan Yeager, court transcript, Commonwealth Court, on gas companies’ request to intervene in the lawsuit against Act 13)
** “PA Independent Oil and Gas Assoc …has a significant stake in the challenge to Act 13 not only because it was instrumental in seeing uniformity and predictability incorporated into it, but it spent a good bit of time, energy, and money in seeking the Act’s approval” (statement from an attorney representing gas industry interests, court transcript, Commonwealth Court, regarding gas companies request to intervene in the lawsuit against Act 13)
** “When man- made fractures intersect with natural faults, contaminants could reach the surface area in tens of years. Or less” from study by Tom Myers (see item #7)
** “While state law doesn’t allow localities to regulate drilling, that doesn’t mean they can’t adopt zoning laws to prevent drilling.” Attorney Linda Shaw in New York State
1. Murrysville Passes Resolution Supporting Lawsuit against Act 13!!
Murrysville council unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday that shows support for a lawsuit filed against the state in response to oil and gas drilling regulations.
Councilman David Perry read a lengthy document after a short executive session that outlined the municipality's reasoning.
"We are opposed to the allowance of industrial uses in residential areas," Perry said.”
(By Renatta Signorini ,Tribune-Review 5- 2- 12.)
2. Upper Burrell Passes Letter of Support for lawsuit against Act 13!
3. Vermont Bans Fracking !!!
The Vermont House voted 103-36 to give final passage to legislation that will make VT the first state in the nation to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
“The VT Legislature deserves tremendous praise for having the courage to stand up to all of the lobbying, the full page ads and the legal threats of the oil and gas industry,” says VPIRG Director, Paul Burns.
4 New York Still Not Drilling and Bans Are Upheld By Courts
The review of the decision on whether to frack will probably continue through the summer. New York has not issued permits for fracking gas wells since it began the review in 2008.
The Dept. of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Joe Martens, said a growing number of communities have banned or placed moratorium on drilling. In lawsuits against 2 of the towns, local state judges upheld the bans.
The lower court rulings were seen as victories for local home rule and a blow to the industry and lease- holding landowners. . “If these two rulings stand it’s the kiss of death for gas drilling in New York.” “You could spend $100 million for lease rights only to be at the mercy of a 3-2 town board vote,” said Albany attorney Tom West.
West argued that state environmental law clearly states that local zoning is trumped by state regulations when it comes to oil and gas drilling.
Attorney Linda Shaw, representing the town of Dryden, said the courts agreed that while state law doesn’t allow localities to regulate drilling, that doesn’t mean they can’t adopt zoning laws to prevent drilling.
(NY Official: No date yet for fracking updates, AP, 4-20-12, Latrobe bulletin)
5. PUC’s Request to Take Action on Local Zoning Ordinances Is Denied
Despite the injunction on Act 13, the PUC requested the right to begin examining local ordinances (the PUC now has the power to overturn local ordinances due to Act 13). That request has been denied by the Commonwealth Court.
6. House Democrats Unveil ‘Marcellus Compact’ to Fix Act 13
House Democrats today launched a renewed effort to fix Gov. Tom Corbett’s industry-friendly Act 13, offering a six-point plan – the Marcellus Compact.
Noting that Act 13 provides one of the lowest tax rates in the nation on gas drillers and weak environmental protections, House Democrats unveiled their Marcellus Compact – a promise to put the interests of Pennsylvanians first, rather than the oil and gas industry for whom, and by whom, Act 13 was written.
"House Democrats are committed to a strong Marcellus Shale law that puts Pennsylvania taxpayers, workers and families first, unlike the current law supported by Governor Corbett and his allies, which is a sweetheart deal for the multi-billion-dollar oil and gas industry," said Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny. "The Marcellus Compact places Pennsylvania’s priorities where they ought to be – with the people who live and work here, not with wealthy, multinational oil and gas corporations."
The Marcellus Compact includes components to:
· restore municipal zoning authority by eliminating Act 13’s override of local zoning provisions;
· ensure tax fairness for Pennsylvanians by imposing a reasonable statewide tax on natural gas drillers for the life of the well;
· protect critical natural resources by increasing environmental setbacks and bonding requirements;
· increase transparency and safety by establishing a public online tracking system for fracking wastewater storage and disposal; prohibiting drilling in floodplains; and placing a moratorium on discharging drilling wastewater into surface waters;
· guarantee the rights of patients to full medical disclosure and transparency when their health might have been affected by fracking chemicals; and
· make jobs a priority by establishing a Marcellus Shale Job Creation Tax Credit to provide incentives for companies to hire Pennsylvania workers.
(From: PA House democratic Caucus)
Excellent resources on Act 13:

7. Gas Industry Explains Its Stake in Act 13—It Spent A Lot Of MoneyTo Get It Enacted
PIOGA (PA Independent Oil and Gas Assoc.), the Marcellus Shale Coalition, and Mark west, Penneco and Chesapeake filed a petition to intervene in the lawsuit against Act 13.
At the hearing, their attorney explained that PIOGA and the Marcellus Shale Coalition supported Act 13.
The following statement was made at the hearing by an industry attorney: “PIOGA …has a significant stake in the challenge to Act 13 not only because it was instrumental in seeing uniformity and predictability incorporated into it, but it spent a good bit of time, energy, and money in seeking the acts approval”
“The industry is the player. It is the key player in the oil and gas development in PA. and absent its ability to participate in the very legislation and the very challenge to the legislation that regulates it in its entirely would be nothing other than causing mischief for it”
(Quote from industry attorney, transcript of Commonwealth Court of PA, before Judge Quigley)
The industry was denied the ability to intervene, in part, due to the fact that it is already adequately represented by involvement of the state.
8. PSATS Conference This Week
The Pa Association of Township Supervisors conference is this week. The gas industry is a sponsor of the conference. PSATS supported Act 13 despite the fact that our tax dollars pay for PSATS membership and in violation of their own PSATS policy that dictates that:
“PSATS opposes any legislation that would reduce or eliminate a municipality's authority to make local land use decisions.”
But they did support that legislation anyway.
Supervisors will have the opportunity to speak out against the poor leadership.
9. New Study Finds Frack Chemicals Can Move Within a Year
A major peer- reviewed study, commissioned by Catskill Mountainkeeper, predicts that frack fluids can migrate into aquifers, directly contradicting the claims by the gas industry that these toxic chemicals will stay underground forever.
“The new peer-reviewed study by hydrogeologist and researcher Tom Myers, “Potential Contaminant Pathways from Hydraulically Fractured Shale to Aquifers”, published in the current issue of Ground Water, demonstrates that fluids from fracking activities can migrate from deep layers of shale to shallow aquifers and surface waters, bringing along with them polluting gases, chemicals, and radioactivity. The study, based on computer modeling in natural and induced fissures, offers an explanation for reports of contamination of wells by deep shale methane in many areas of Pennsylvania. According to the study, fracking will dramatically speed up the movement of chemicals injected into the ground. Fluids could move in 100 years what would normally take tens of thousands of years. “When man made fractures intersect with natural faults, contaminants could reach the surface area in tens of years. Or less” Chemicals could reach the surface in as little as just a few years.
“Simply put, rocks are not impermeable.”
Migration of contaminated gas and fluids through rock fissures cannot be controlled, making slow contamination of aquifers and water resources – over time frames as short as one year – extremely likely in areas of intensive drilling activity.
The study also concluded that the force that fracking exerts does not immediately let when the process ends. It can take nearly a year to ease.
This threat from deep level contamination therefore points to risks inherent in high pressure drilling activities beyond the already existing threats to human and animal health posed by poorly drilled wells and dissolving cement sheaths and casings, which are already well-accepted as mechanisms by which drilling activities can ruin water sources.”
Terry Engleder of Penn State, proponent of fracking and gas development in PA, disagreed with Myers study
(Summary from: Catskill Mountainkeeper) and
(a cabot oil and gas hydraulic fracturing site , abrahm lustgarten, propublica 5-1-12)
10. Chesapeake Energy’s CEO, Aubrey McClendon, Bankrolled Corbett Starting in ’04 (http://protectingourwaters.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/chesapeake-energy-ceo-bankrolled-corbett-starting-in-04-mcclendons-contributions-pivotal-for-pa-governor/) by Loretta Gary, 6-30-11
“According to Philadelphia Daily News, Chesapeake Energy’s CEO Aubrey McClendon, has been bankrolling Corbett as far back as 2004.
The natural gas industry gave $7,175,234 to Pennsylvania candidates and Political Action Committees (PACs) from 2000 through the end of 2010, according to a Common Cause/Pennsylvania (CCPA) analysis released today. $3,442,212was donated to elected officials currently in office.
The top recipient remains Governor Tom Corbett, with a total $1,634,096 in contributions from the natural gas industry. Corbett raised $1,083,315of that total in 2009-2010 from 216 donations. He is followed by Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, with $293,333.
In the final weeks of Corbett’s 2004 race for Attorney General, a game -changing donation of $720,000 was received from an obscure campaign committee called the Republican State Leadership Committee-heavily finance by tobacco, insurance and energy companies. $450,000 of the generous donation came from Chesapeake’s, Aubrey McClendon. The money enabled Corbett to launch last minute radio campaigns in York and Lancaster, which helped him win the state by just 110,000 votes.
*It should be pointed out that Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati is the one who sponsored SB1100, which along with HB1950became PA Act 13.
11. New Investigation of Chesapeake’s CEO Aubrey McClendon
“U.S. Senator Bill Nelson will ask the Justice Department to investigate Chesapeake Energy for potential fraud and price manipulation
McClendon has received criticism for his personal dealings. The company said he would be stripped of his chairmanship following an earlier report by Reuters that he had taken out as much as $1.1 billion in personal loans on ownership stakes in wells he got through the company.
The disclosure about the loans has led to shareholder lawsuits, and prompted inquiries by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service.
On Wednesday, Reuters published its second investigation, which revealed that McClendon and Chesapeake co-founder Tom Ward ran a hedge fund from at least 2004 through 2008. The hedge fund listed Chesapeake's headquarters as its address and it had at least one Chesapeake employee on its staff. Experts say McClendon's dual role as CEO of the second-largest natural gas producer and sponsor of a hedge fund that traded in the same commodities raises serious concerns about whether he may have violated his duty to Chesapeake shareholders.”
Summary From: (Senator Nelson Seeks Probe into Chesapeake Energy, Reuters, Roberta Rampton and Sarah Lynch, 5-2-12)
12. North Carolina Dept. Of Justice Warns Homeowners about Leasing
(from Marcellus Shale Protest site http://www.marcellusprotest.org/NCDOJ)
“We've heard many informal warnings about the risks which homeowners run when they sign drilling leases. Now the North Carolina Department of Justice has delivered a written (draft) report to the state legislature that puts those warnings on the record. The full document is available. (Go to the Marcellus Protest site, address above).
The following quotes are from coverage by the Associated Press:
...Landowners should be extremely careful when considering ceding drilling rights and legislators should require more information and protections for residents.
...The act of leasing without the lender's prior approval could place the mortgage in default.... Storing "hazardous substances" on the site of the mortgaged land also could be grounds for a breach of contract.
At least two lenders have said they won't make loans for homes where the borrower doesn't own mineral rights or has leased them.
The draft report was presented on April 26 by Assistant Attorney General Lynne Weaver.”
13. Geisinger Using Patient Database to Assess Fracking Harm
Geisinger Health System, a nonprofit chain of hospitals in eastern Pennsylvania, plans to use its database of patient records to determine whether Marcellus gas drilling is harming PA residents.
The hospital system started mining hundreds of thousands of medical records in recent weeks, David Carey, the director of Geisinger’s Weis Center for Research, said in an interview at a conference in Washington. Pennsylvania-based Geisinger is talking with foundations, the government, and the gas industry about contributing money to expand the project.
TheInstitute of Medicine, advisers to the government on health care, is examining whether fracking poses health risks. Concerns include the potential for water and air pollution, and inhalation of sand dust, according to academics and government officials who spoke at a workshop sponsored by the institute.
“There’s all these concerns about what the health risks are but we’re really limited to anecdotal data,” Carey said. The database can contribute “real hard, rigorous scientific data” to the debate, he said. “
(Alex Wayne 5-1-12,http://us.mc394.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=awayne3@bloomberg.net)
14. Groups Unite in Lawsuit To Fight Industry Imposed Gag Rules
Doctors (including Physicians for Social Responsibility), scientists, Engineers for Healthy Energy, researchers, and advocates, are represented by Earthjustice in the lawsuit fighting for access to information concealed by the industry. . All have filed an amicus brief in support of newspapers leading the fight. “In order to treat patients, doctors need access to a wide range of information’s, said Dr. Jerome Paulson, Children’s’ National Medical center. “The gas industry has information that could prove vital tot our patients health and we are asking the court to make it available “
Stephanie and Chris Hallowich from Mt Pleasant PA signed a non- disclosure agreement as part of her families’ settlement with the gas company in a dispute over the family being sick from emissions. Non- disclosure agreements have come to be the norm in lawsuits against the industry.
The industry benefits by silencing families who have experienced the worst effects of gas drilling.
Other individuals involved in the suit include Dr. Sandra Steingraber, Dr. Bernard Goldstein, Dr. Jerome Paulson, Dr. William Rom, Dr. Mehernosh Khan, Dr. Simona Perry, Dr Robert Oswald , Dr. Michelle Bamberger, Kathryn Venni, and Dr. Walter Tsou
(Contacts: Kathleen Sutcliffe, Earthjustice, (202) 797-5235, (202) 384-7157 (cell)
Susan Dell Muma, Children’s National Medical Center, (301)244-6733, (301) 651-4916 (cell)
Bruce Baizel, Earthworks, (970) 259-3353, ext. 2)
15. Workers exposed to Silica Dust
Exposure of workers to silica dust from silica sand used to prop open fractures in wells was discussed at an Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science Roundtable on Fracking and Health Impact Assessments.
Monitors on 115 frack site workers showed than 79% of samples had more silica dust than recommended. The highest sample was 137 times NIOSH recommended limit. Even respirators protect only up to 10 times the recommended limit. (beyond that they are not effective) So even with a respirator, nearly a third of workers were breathing silica dust above the NIOSH recommended imit.
These statistics were shocking to the roomful of health professionals.
Current Assistant Secretary of Labor and head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Dr. David Michaels, who echoed the pervasive concern that health professionals were only now entering the policy discussion.
“We are over five years into the massive shale gas development boom and the top public health officials in the country are still newly learning of astounding risks to human health.”
Questions then rained in: How far is the drift from these plumes? What are the remobilization rates? Could pregnant women or children be exposed?
(Silica dust poses newly revealed health risks from fracking, Posted May 2, 2012 in Curbing Pollution,Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment)
16. Sierra Club Challenges Gas Terminal
Sierra Club says it will block Dominion’s plan to export 1 billion cubic feet per day of gas through a terminal in Maryland. A previous legal settlement gave Sierra Club the right to reject any significant changes to the purpose or footprint of the existing natural gas terminals in Cove Point, Md.
According to Sierra Club, the export project could result in damage to the Chesapeake Bay and Calvery Cliffs State Park in Maryland.
(Sierra Club challenges natural gas terminal, AP, 4-27-12 Latrobe Bulletin)
17. Pittsburgh Air 6thMost Polluted in US
American Lung Assoc. air statistics show that the air quality in the 8- county Pittsburgh area has improved but not as quickly as other areas. The area ranked as the sixth most polluted area in the US this year for fine, air- borne particles. It ranked sixth in two categories, year round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution.
(Lung group finds Pittsburgh air not rank better, AP 4-26-12, latrboe bull)
{These facts need to be cited repeatedly-- each time the gas industry is permitted for compressor stations, drill pads, pipelines, and processing plants—all adding to the air pollution of the area.}
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
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