Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jan's Updates June 19, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates- June 19
For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us at face book.
To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information
For information on the state gas legislation and local control:
Please Cut and Paste All Links-(they work erratically)
Calendar of Events
*** Marcellus Compressor Station Slated to Expand
Informational Meeting-GASP and Clean Air Council
Protecting the Air We All Breathe: Health& Air Impacts from Natural Gas Operations and Info on the Welling Compressor Station
When: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 – 7:00PM
Where: Buffalo Township Municipal Building, 400 Buffalo Center Lane
MarkWest is proposing to expand their Welling Compressor Station in Buffalo Township. This Wednesday, GASP and Clean Air Council will provide information about air quality issues and health impacts associated with natural gas development and this particular proposal, as well as details on how the public can comment on this station.
This facility expansion would result in a station with 11 compressor engines, a dehydrator/reboiler, 3 condensate tanks, 2 other storage tanks, and other various smaller engines and pieces of equipment. As planned, this facility would emit 49.2 tons per year (TPY) of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), 60.81 TPY of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), and 89,422 TPY of Carbon Dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Some of these emissions projections are just under limits that would trigger more stringent pollution control requirements. This is your chance to tell the state what you think about this compressor station expansion, so please attend, and bring all of your questions for our experts. For more details, call us at (412) 924-0604, or email Lauren.
Previously, GASP and Clean Air Council partnered on education around the Frazer Township compressor station, and are happy to report that the installation permit was much improved by our comments and those of other concerned citizens.
Welling Compressor Station:
*** 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.
***Anti-Fracking Rally in DC
The first - ever national anti-fracking rally is planned for July 28, in Washington, DC. For quite a while now many have been pushing for taking this to the federal level. Marcellus Protest is considering organizing a charter bus to DC for this rally. ,
(Sierra Club, Calvin Tillman, Earthworks)
***County Commissioners Hold Evening Meetings Around the Area
Westmoreland County commissioners will conduct public meetings to solicit comments on how to spend Marcellus shale impact fees.
The meetings will begin at 6 p.m. on:
•July 9 at Westmoreland County Courthouse, Main Street, Greensburg
•July 10 at Washington Township Municipal Building, 289 Pine Run Church Road
•July 23 at Mt. Pleasant Township Municipal Building, 208 Poker Road
•July 26 at Rostraver Township Municipal Building, 201 Municipal Drive
•Aug. 13 at Derry Township Municipal Building, 5321 Route 982
What You Can Do To Help
About Taking Action on Resolutions Against Act 13
What we have learned about passing the resolution to support the lawsuit against Act 13:
1. You will probably need to attend 2 or 3 supervisors meetings in seeking passage of the resolution. Public comment time is often at the beginning of the meeting so people do not have to stay all evening.
2. At the first meeting, we introduced the resolution and discussed the need to overturn Act 13-- emphasize that this is a loss of community rights.
It is hard to believe, but many supervisors have no interest in this issue and it is the residents who have to be insistent.
3. It is helpful to have resource people discuss the problems with Act 13 with your supervisors. (Brian Coppola has volunteered to do this many times.
Officials have a real knack for presenting information in a convincing way to other supervisors.) There are also many active environmental groups in the area that understand the zoning implications.
4. If people can’t attend a meeting to support you, they can send emails to officials. Provide residents with the email address of supervisors and two or three points they may want to include. You can also provide the link to the fact sheets on Act 13 which are given in the ‘call to action’ below. Providing the addresses of supervisors makes it easy for people to send a brief letter.
5. If the resolution supporting the lawsuit becomes an issue due to wording, and supervisors are absolutely unwilling to pass it, we have copies of resolutions that oppose Act 13, without directly citing the lawsuit that you may be able to get passed.
6. For most meetings, we had a core group of only 4 or 5 people –we found it very difficult to get people out to meetings in our area. But at the meeting when the vote is to occur, it is very effective to have a group of friends and neighbors attend the meeting with you to show support. Persistence is key. We are the voters. There is no way to ensure success, but it is clear we must be persistent.
7. You can contact me for details or prototypes of statements.
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 on Act 13:
Handout on Act 13 by Penn Future (short version)-
Delaware Riverkeepers Basics About Act 13
Penn Future on act 13 (detailed version)
On Pittsburgh’s Ban-from Debbie
Mayor Ravenstahl is WORKING WITH Governor Corbett TO GET RID OF the PITTSBURGH BAN.
Moments after the passage of ACT 13, Luke Ravenstahl had the City Solicitor contact the PUC in order to file a complaint with PUC to initiate the action to remove the ban. You may want to ask the Mayor:
First, call/email & thank Bill Peduto for his unwavering, outspoken support of the ban:
Bill Peduto – 412-255-2133
Then call/email the mayor & city council & ask them to stand strong in supporting our drilling ban..
Mayor - 412 255 2626 (412) 475-2387 255-2694
and leave a message.
Ricky Burgess – 412-255-2137
Patrick Dowd - 412-255-2140
Darlene Harris, Council President - 412-255-2135
Theresa Kail-Smith - 412-255-8963
Bruce Kraus - 412-255-2130
Daniel Lavelle - 412-255-2134
Corey O’Connor – 412.255.8965
Natalia Rudiak –
Ricky Burgess
Patrick Dowd -
Darlene Harris
Theresa Kail-Smith
Bruce Kraus -
Daniel Lavelle
Corey O’Connor -
Bill Peduto –
Natalia Rudiak
Fracking Quotes
*** “DEP officials don’t tell us any more than they have to. I think we have a right to know. DEP keeps you in the dark anyhow. So I don’t have much faith in them. ” Ed Barale, Amwell supervisor, referring to lack of notification about spills and leaks by DEP.
*** “It isn't clear that DEP officials should be making that judgment if a 480-gallon spill went unreported to the public,” he said. "Let us know about everything, and we'll decide how we respond to it." Supervisor Edward Deter speaking about local supervisors not being advised of spills. (see item #1)
*** "Partitioning our state into frack and no-frack zones based on economic desperation is a shameful idea." Sandra Steingraber of New York.
***"I'd like to think it's (the job estimates) not a purposeful effort to deceive the public ... but it's a dangerous game. I think a better tactic is to under-promise/over-deliver, not over-promise/under-deliver," said David Masur, Philadelphia-based executive director of PennEnvironment
*** “DEP wont release it and I want to know why. There’s no justifiable reason why they won’t release it”. Rep Jesse White on the DEPs refusal to release the air testing data done at the evacuated health clinic in Smith Township.
Frack News
1. What We Aren’t Told about Spills in PA
“Violation counts at drilling operations run high. But the state rarely if ever notified the public of the spills and, by law, it doesn’t have to. . Officials from a dozen western PA townships affected by the spills want to be notified.
“Any time a company has to notify DEP, they should have to notify a municipal official," said Deter, supervisor in Center, Greene County. He said Department officials told supervisors they wouldn't want to know about every small spill. “It isn't clear that DEP officials should be making that judgment if a 480-gallon spill went unreported to the public”, he said. "Let us know about everything, and we'll decide how we respond to it."
Some categories of spills must reported immediately to the DEP but many types of spills do not have to be reported. DEP records show at least 27 spills in 19 townships in the 10- county, SW region since Jan 2011.
DEP records show that Range was responsible for a stream discharge, a drilling fluid leak, and an overturned tanker spilling brine in Amwell Township. Township Officials were not informed and only learned of the problem weeks later from workers.
Range has agreed to pay $18,025 for violations in Amwell and Hopewell in Washington County. Three Amwell families are suing the company and DEP over environmental problems they say were caused by Range.
DEP issued citations for at least 52 of 134 spills, 50 of which involved polluted water. Drillers failed to properly report nearly one- third of pollution incidents as required.
DEP withheld 92 pages of documents about numerous incidents saying it is allowed to keep investigative records confidential, so the total number of incidents could be higher.
Incidents unreported to the public:
--Wastewater truck overturned June 2011, spilling diesel fuel into tributary of Lilly Run in Fayette County.
--Workers for Williams illegally dumped sediment and allowed a drilling fluid pit to overflow at another well site in Derry in 2011.
--A plastic tank spilled 130 gallon of methanol on the ground at Exco Resources well in Armstrong County, March 2011. Workers recovered 70 % of the liquid before it saturated the soil.
When EQT spilled 480 gallon of diesel fuels into Paterson Run in Greene County, local leaders didn’t know about it until the Tribune Review notified them in March.
West Virginia drillers must identify anyone living within a mile of their wells and notify them of any accidents or spills, said Kathy Cosco, spokeswoman for the West Virginia DEP. They notify an emergency contact at the county level for emergencies which aren’t specifically defined.”
(Summary from Tribune Review (DEP keeps you in dark about spills officials say, tim puko, 6-9-12
2. Act 13-- Commonwealth Court Hearing
“The heart of the suit is the extent of the states power to tell municipalities where they must allow drilling related activity, including rigs, waste pits, pipelines and the compressor and processing stations that help move the gas.
The plaintiffs filed suit against the state, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Environmental Protection. Following a previous hearing, the municipalities were granted more time to enact zoning laws in compliance with Act 13.
Judge Pellegrini asked a lawyer representing the DEP and the PUC what would happen if the state passes similar laws for every industry it considers an economic engine. “If you make that argument, pretty soon zoning becomes irrational, Pellegrini said.
The first attorney to argue for the petitioners, Canonsburg, Pa., attorney John M. Smith, told the court that the act sets forth an improper, unconstitutional use of the state's police powers. By preventing local municipalities from enacting zoning prohibitions against drilling, considering its associated hazards, the legislature had overstepped its bounds.
According to attorney for the plaintiffs, Jordan B. Yeager, the act, if left to stand, would leave the court "inundated" with "spot-zoning" challenges from property owners facing the effects of a law the legislature forced their local political leadership to comply with.
As attorney Jonathan M. Kamin put it to the panel, Act 13 represents a "special treatment" for the oil and gas industry from the legislature "like nothing we've ever seen before."
(Marcellus shale law suit goes to judges, AP, Latrobe bulleting, 6-7-11 and
lawyers spar over constitutionality of act 13 provisions, ben present)
3. Neighbor Against Neighbor –Unsellable Homes
"It's changed everything, all right," says Pam Judy, a resident of Carmichaels, in neighboring Greene County. Her now-unsellable dream home sits 780 feet downwind of three enormous gas compressors, which appeared in 2009. "It sounds like helicopters in the backyard," she says. "The fumes make me dizzy. My children get headaches and nosebleeds. Some opportunity."
Jeannie Moten and her 90 year old mother, Edna Moten, who says her tap water has even spewed live brine shrimp into her glass on several occasions, both have skin lesions they say are caused by fracking operations.
Residents complain of frack rash, asthma, diarrhea, incontinence, sore throats, and joint pain.
"It's turned neighbor against neighbor," says JoAnne Wagner, an outspoken homemaker who battled unsuccessfully to keep fracking away from her children's schools in Mount Pleasant Township. She tells about the day she opened her garage and was hit by an overpowering, burning-chemical smell. Can she prove the source? No. But such stories are common in America's fracking capital. "The gas companies have been given carte blanche to put anything anywhere," she says.”
From the article:
--The industry average is 1 serious environmental incident out of every 8 wells drilled. Range’s average is higher-- 1 out of 6.
--It costs about $7.6 million to frack a single well.
--The process of well drilling includes ringing the well with 12 to 18 high- pressure diesel pumps on flatbed trucks—which results in diesel pollution.
--Researchers have demonstrated that nearly 8 % of fracked methane can leak into the atmosphere, making it the dirtiest fossil fuel in terms of climate change.
--The industry uses the term fracking narrowly so it can say fracking does not pollute water. Therefore, a University of Texas study was celebrated by the industry and reported in national media as exonerating fracking as a source of water pollution, even though the report actually stated that every step of gas extraction except for the injection of fracking fluid has been linked to incidents of environmental contamination.
--The industry’s claim of a 100 year supply –touted by Pres. Obama in his State of the Union Address-is based on estimates of gas reserves that include those termed probable, possible, and speculative which means they are not proven to exist nor known to be recoverable.
July/August 2012 Issue Sierra Club
4.New York- -Fracking May Be Allowed in Low- Income Areas
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering a plan to restrict fracking to economically struggling parts of New York along the Pennsylvania border and allow it only in communities that express support. More than 100 communities in New York have approved bans or moratoriums on fracking.
Some environmental justice advocates criticized Cuomo’s plan, saying it would send an environmentally polluting industry into the most impoverished communities. Activist and writer Sandra Steingraber said in a statement: "Partitioning our state into frack and no-frack zones based on economic desperation is a shameful idea." New York state regulators are expected to approve fracking in the coming months.
(amy Goodman, democracy now, 6-14-12)
5. Thousands Protest in Ohio
Thousands protested in Columbus to send Gov. Kasich a message about fracking, stating their concerns about environmental problems. Opponents state they will continue to push Ohio lawmakers to follow Vermont’s lead and ban fracking.
(thousands protest at statehouse against fracking, 6-17-12, 10tv, Ohio)
6. Elected NY Officials Send Letter to Cuomo-
“We the undersigned elected officials are sworn to protect our communities and safeguard the public health, environment, and economies of NY states, towns, villages, counties, and cities.” The officials asked for a moratorium to be maintained on fracking and requested independent assessments:
--A comprehensive health impact assessment of the entire gas process including direct and indirect health effects and cumulative health impacts
--A revised and properly thorough analysis that considers all potentially negative socioeconomic impacts including increased demands on local governments, first responders, and effects of drilling on property values and home mortgages, existing businesses and economies and local community character
--A revised and thorough study of cumulative impacts on the rural landscape, water resources, air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, and lack of safe alternatives for wastewater disposal.
7. PROBATION for Illegal Frack Waste Dumper—NO JAIL TIME
Robert Shipman of New Freeport, former owner of Allan’s Wastewater
Service, was sentenced to 7 years probation. He will serve no jail time despite the fact that sentencing guidelines call for 16 months in prison. He directed his drivers to illegally dump millions of gallons of wastewater into streams and mine shafts in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties from 2003 to 2009. He was ordered to pay $257, 316 in restitution, $100,000 in fines, $250,00 to the attorney generals office and to serve 1,750 hours of community service with nonprofit water service related organizations.
{Which of our area watershed associations want him???? Jan}
(NO jail time in dumping case, tara kinsell observer reporter 6-16-12, man gets probation for dumping wastewater, Latrobe bulletin, AP, 6-16-12)
8.Rep. Jess White Files Right to Know Request for Air Data
“Rep Jesse White D-Cecil wants the DEP to release the raw data from air testing done at the clinic in Smith Township, which has since relocated.
DEP said their testing of 69 compounds found levels that would be equivalent to a vehicle passing the clinic, a lawn mower operating, or minor emissions from two large propane tanks on the property. The only mystery was methyl isobutyl ketone, a solvent which DEP said was found in a relatively small concentration.
Rep White filed a Right to Know request with the DEP after it declined to release its 400-page report of the air testing. “DEP wont release it and I want to know why. There’s no justifiable reason why they won’t release it”. Rep White said. DEP says nothing of significance was found and could not determine why a strong odor resulted in the health center which had to be evacuated three times since March. “
(Christie Campbell, lawmaker fighting for release of air dada, observer-reporter)
9.New Jersey May Ban Out of State Frack Waste
New Jersey’s Assembly Environment Committee has approved legislation, aimed particularly at neighboring Pennsylvania, banning fracturing byproducts from other states. . The bill now heads to the full Assembly.
Business and petroleum groups oppose the ban.
This link lists the sites that have accepted Pa waste in 2011:
10. Drilling Not Helping Jobless Numbers in W VA
Information from Workforce West Virginia shows the Marcellus and Utica shale-drilling industry has not created much direct employmentover the past two years.
"We've not seen much change in employment in the oil and gas industry over the past year. Employment in oil and gas in 2010 was 2,244, dropping slightly to 2,179 in 2011," said WorkForce spokeswoman Courtney Sisk.
WorkForce statistics show that the number of West Virginia residents working directly for gas and oil drillers has not increased over the past two years, despite a continued upswing in drilling and fracking. There are gains in people working for restaurants and hotels as well as companies that supply materials to the industry and some retailers when drillers are in an area.
11. DEP Announces Natural Gas Vehicle Resource Website
The site is to designed to help municipal and commercial fleet owners make decisions about converting their fleets to compressed gas and liquefied gas. Act 13 authorized the DEP to implement a gas energy program to distribute up to $20 million in grants over three years to help pay for the purchase and conversion costs of gas fleet vehicles.
(DEP announces natural gas vehicle resource website, tech assistance plan, Latrobe bulletin, 6-7-12)
12. Cracker Plant-- Job Estimates Disputed
The jobs created by a cracker plant in Monaca could be less than half of what Gov. Tom Corbett has been touting.
There are likely to be 6,000 to 8,000 new permanent jobs if and when Shell opens a plant in Beaver County, according to data from the Department of Labor & Industry. That includes about 400 workers at the plant and thousands of others grown across several sectors from manufacturing to retail.
"I'd like to think it's (the job estimates) not a purposeful effort to deceive the public ... but it's a dangerous game. I think a better tactic is to under-promise/over-deliver, not over-promise/under-deliver," said David Masur,
executive director of PennEnvironment, and an outspoken critic of the tax credit. "It's more like they're a kid in a candy shop. Their eyes just keep getting bigger and bigger.
"It's probably icing on the cake on why this decision shouldn't be ramrodded through like this," Masur said. "When you're talking about billions of dollars of the taxpayers' money, you want to have the real facts before you make a decision."
That ensures Pennsylvania would get all the job growth -- from drilling to processing to petrochemical manufacturing -- its boosters claim.
The administration has yet to satisfactorily detail not only the job estimates, but how it would define in-state operators and enforce those requirements, said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills. Democratic leaders are meeting with Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker and state Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser about those issues.”
(tim puko, 6-15-12,
13. Shell’s Billion Dollar Tax Break-No Guarantee on Jobs
“Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director, Sharon Ward, issued a statement on Corbett’s plan to provide a $1.7 billion tax credit to Shell Oil which is planning to build a cracker plant in PA.
The question for lawmakers should be, why is Pennsylvania providing any subsidy to this project at all?
Pennsylvanians should be concerned about the governor’s plan to provide a secret tax break to a company already committed to coming to the state, a tax break that does not require the company to do a single thing or create a single job.”
Shell will builds its facility in a tax fee zone and pay nothing in most state or local taxes.”
(billion dollar tax break for shell bad deal for taxpayers, PA Budget and Policy center, guest editorial, Latrobe bulletin)
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s GroupMission 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