Monday, June 25, 2012

Jan's Updates June 25, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates- June 25
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
*** Hempfield Supervisors Meeting
We will be discussing the resolution regarding Act 13 at the Hempfield Township Supervisors Meeting this Monday, June 25, at 7:00 PM. Please, all, we need warm bodies who are informed about this issue. Come and bring friends. (From Mike A. of the Hempfield group)

*** Tour de Frack
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 Rd
•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
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)
TAKE ACTION-Sierra Club-For Balanced Budget
The Corbett administration seems to believe Pennsylvania taxpayers can afford an additional $1.65 billion tax break to build an “ethane cracker” refinery for fossil fuel giant Shell Oil Company in Beaver County. The Marcellus Gas Law (Act 13) already provided many incentives for the natural gas industry, including the Shell site as a Keystone (Tax Free, jan) Opportunity Zone, exempting it for a decade from all state and local taxes. Now taxpayers are being asked to subsidize this venture for 25 years.
Meanwhile, the Solar Jobs bill (HB1580), co-sponsored by a majority of state representatives, which would increase the number of solar energy credits utilities from Pennsylvania sources, is being blocked by Republican House leaders. This could result in PA’s solar jobs moving to other states.
We must remind our legislators that a “balanced” budget requires strong environmental protection as well as funding basic education, higher education and public health and safety programs.
Take Action To Preserve Funding for Environmental Programs
Action Taken on Behalf of the Group:
*** Statement presented at Mt Pleasant Township Supervisors Meeting against Act 13
*** Statement presented tonight (Monday) at Hempfield Township Supervisors Meeting against Act 13
*** Telephone interview with reporter from Center for Public Integrity
*** Statement written and submitted to DEP regarding Welling Compressor 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).
Fracking Quotes:
*** Whole communities have been silenced and repressed.” Anthropologist, Simona Perry, discussing non-disclosure agreements.
*** "How do we provide appropriate treatment recommendations to who are ill?" Paulson asked during a press conference last week. "For the population of individuals who are healthy, how do we provide prevention recommendations when we don't have the information?" Dr. Paulson, director of Mid Atlantic Center for Children’ Health and the Environment speaking on nondisclosure agreements


The resolution passed unanimously (from Melissa T., Mt. Watershed)
Linda Headley and Frank Zuzak were present to share what they experienced, which includes illegal right-of-ways created by the gas companies, intimidation, and land and water contamination. Both Headley and Zuzak live in Fayette County, along with Mary Grace Butella who was also present to urge City Council to consider both short and long-term impacts of this industry on our air and water.
Mountain Watershed Association was present to thank the Mayor and Council for passing the resolution MWA took to Council in May, and for supporting community rights, specifically the retention of local jurisdiction over local resources.

2. The Link to Marcellus Matters “The Case Against Act 13”

With Doug Shields—Interviewed are Brian Coppola, Supervisor, Robinson Twp; Andy Schrader, Supervisor, Cecil Twp; Deron Gabriel, South Fayette Twp
These 15-minute segments provide a good understanding of some of the problems with Act 13:
A Few Notes from the program:
· DEP must grant setback waivers even in residential areas so setbacks, as stated in the Act, can be waived for the asking.
· There are no density restrictions on gas operations. Townships can set density restrictions fro many activities including bars/clubs but not highly industrialized gas operations.
· A consultant recommended that 6 to 7 of 8 pages of the ordinance dealing with gas operations in Cecil would have to be excised due to Act 13.
· If townships challenge Act 13 to protect their ordinance, and lose, they also lose their impact fee.
· Zoning allows communities to define the character of their community. Act 13 takes away this right.
· Tom Corbett, as attorney general, in 2008, warned that selling or leasing land for drilling could affect the value of property.
3. The More Wells Drilled—The More Compressor Stations Will Pollute Our Air-from Bob
It was revealed during the meeting in Buffalo Township that MarkWest now has 13“active” compressor stations in Washington County. One of the MarkWest reps told Bob at an earlier meeting at that same location, that 3 large- producing, Marcellus wells can require one compressor. If you translate that into the three current well pads (showing Range’s new pattern of 6 wells per pad) you can see the obvious potential for many more compressor stations in Washington County’s future.

4. Josh Fox New Video

A new AntiFracking video by Josh Fox targets Cuomo and is entitled,
Governor what Color Will the Sky be Over New York?”
Posted by Jeff Goodell (exerpt) about Gov Cuomo’s Plan for Fracking
“Last week, someone in your administration – I won’t try to guess who! – leaked details of your administration’s planto allow fracking to the New York Times. I’ll give you this: You didn’t allow Chesapeake and the other gas industry thugs to roll you entirely; among other things, the plan limits fracking to five counties in the southern tier of the state and places restrictions on drilling near drinking water supplies. Obviously, you’re trying to appear rational and pragmatic about all this, talking about following “the science” while balancing economic development with environmental and public health concerns.
Well, guess what? When it comes to fracking, there isn’t much “science” to follow yet – there’s mostly just industry-funded propaganda. Not only that, but there are a whole lot of people in your state who don’t want you to balance anything. They’ve seen what has happened in Pennsylvania where the gas companies have run wild and they fear that once the drillers get their bits into the ground in New York, it’s a mad rush to ruin.
This reaction from Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper –the Delaware River is part of the New York watershed – is pretty typical: “How can Governor Cuomo consider allowing shale gas development when the state’s environmental study is so riddled with holes and unaddressed pollution and public health issues? How can Governor Cuomo allow shale gas drilling in New York when he can see how many citizens and communities are getting sick, hurt and traumatized from the practice in other states? And how can New York pretend it is safe to drill in some counties and not in others – especially when science shows the pollution problems are the result of drilling and fracking shale formations, not where or how deep these well bores go?”
Fred LeBrun, a political columnist at the Albany Times Union, noticed that you seemed taken aback by the ferocity of the reaction to your proposal: “Once the story of the state’s supposed plan was in play, the governor went out of his way to neither confirm nor deny it was correct, yet he couldn’t stop talking around it while never really saying anything. At least not believable. “What came out was vintage Cuomo’s Deli, where you can get any cold cut you want as long as it’s baloney, sliced anyway you want to hear it.”
From the video:
· Over a 30-year period, 50% of all well casings will fail.
· 6 % of all well casings fail immediately.
· Labor regulators are cracking down on gas industry

5. Gas Industry Calls Employees Independent Contractors to Avoid Paying Taxes
“The Department of Labor has started to combat unfair pay practices in the gas industry, focusing on subcontractors who avoid paying taxes, overtime and workers' compensation premiums by wrongly classifying employees as independent contractors.
The department's Wage and Hour Division began the enforcement initiative this year, but it does not disclose the reasons for its investigations, a spokeswoman said.
In an article the Labor Department is circulating in industry publications, it cites statistics from Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. showing that mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction had the largest drop in workers covered by unemployment insurance of any employment sector, at a time when nine of the 11 fastest-growing jobs in the country are tied to oil and gas extraction.
In 2005, 67 percent of the sector's workers were covered by unemployment insurance, the department wrote. But by 2010, the number had dropped to 47 percent.
"This evidence suggests a major shift in the industry toward classifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees," the department wrote.”
By The Times-tribune (Scranton)
6. Water Testing
The Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (SWPA-EHP) has just released guidelines for the monitoring and testing of private wells. The report, Well Water Contamination: SWPA-EHP Ranking System and Monitoring Strategy“, includes recommendations that will enable well users to monitor their own water with two simple tests.
The protocol was developed after SWPA-EHP scientists analyzed data from over 50 drinking water wells at four different locations. Although not a perfect solution to well water concerns, the protocol has the capacity to alert residents of the possibility that their wells have been contaminated and then to provide guidance on what steps to take next. For more information contact Raina Rippel at (RRippel @

7. Notes from Meeting on Health Effects of Fracking
At a meeting in Shadyside in May, Bernard Goldstein and Jill Kriesky spoke about health effects from fracking. Bernard Goldstein of the Graduate School of Public Health, U. of Pittsburgh, predicted effects from fracking including:
1. There will be surprises in the health effects—unforeseen threats to human health that will be detected.
2. Disease clusters will occur where shale activity takes place.
3. Property values will decrease.
· Money from impact fee is designated to go to 17 state agencies including the Dept. of Motor Vehicles but not to the Dept of Health.
· Under Act 13, companies do not have to reveal degradation products from the chemicals used in fracking. Chemicals break down into other chemicals during degradation. Degradation products often pose more health and environmental problems than the chemical itself
· Wet gas contains benzene, toluene, and xylene. Wet gas, the type of gas found in our area, is the type gas companies say they plan to focus on. Dry gas is found in other areas of the state.
8.Methane Migration and Evacuation in Union Township, Tioga County
“People within a one mile area of the Tioga County drilling site have been told to evacuate. A water well began overflowing, and bubbling was noticed at multiple locations in a stream nearby. Shell has several well pads in the area.
From DEP spokesman, Spadonis’ statement:
---Isotopic samples were collected from a hunting club. Methane alarms were installed in the hunting cabin. DEP recommended the cabin not be occupied until further notice.
---Additional gas leaks were found along the road leading to the hunting cabin. Security guards are in place to limit access.
---Shell is screening within a one- mile radius of the camp to check private drinking water wells that might have been impacted. The investigation is continuing and no determination has been made regarding the source of the methane. “
(State Impact, Scott Detrow, 6-21-12)
9. How the Fracking Industry Keeps its Secret
“The Rogers family (a pseudonym) did not realize they signed a
nondisclosure agreement with a gas company that made the entire gas deal invalid if members of the family discuss the terms of the agreement, water or land disturbance from fracking, or other information with anyone other than the gas company.
Simona Perry, anthropologist, cannot reveal the family’s identity due to the nondisclosure agreement. ‘Rogers’ who initially agreed to participate in a study Simona Perry was conducting on rural families living near frack operations, later called Perry in tears, explaining that her family could no longer participate in the study because of the nondisclosure clause in the surface-use agreement. She felt stupid for signing the agreement. Perry said, “Whole communities have been silenced and repressed”
Dr. Paulson, director of Mid Atlantic Center for Children’ Health and the Environment said nondisclosure agreements are preventing doctors from doing their jobs and protecting the public. "How do we provide appropriate treatment recommendations to who are ill?" Paulson asked during a press conference last week. "For the population of individuals who are healthy, how do we provide prevention recommendations when we don't have the information?"
An amicus brief has been filed by Dr Paulson, Earthjustice and Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility in support of newspapers’ appeal arguing the public deserves access to crucial information about the health impacts of fracking.”
(Silencing Communities: how the fracking industry keeps its secrets, mike Ludwig, truthout, 2-8-12)
10. Wells Plugged But Ready to Drill In PA
There is a backlog of partly finished wells that will keep companies busy for years in PA.
“Thousands of wells have been drilled and already put into production in PA, but 2000 more have been drilled but not completed, leaving plugged holes. This will make it cheaper for companies to bring those wells into production than to start others from scratch in neighboring states.
A new report estimates that even if companies stopped drilling new wells in NW PA, production could grow by 31 % over the next 16 months as the partly drilled wells get hooked up.
The drop in gas prices has led to a change in drilling patterns. Wet gas areas are now in demand in western PA, Ohio, and West Virginia.
PA is expected to be the center of activity for the next few years if not longer. Fadel Gheit, a gas analyst with Oppenheimer and Co, said. “The industry will always stay with what they’ve got. There’s less risk sticking with a state and with regulations they know. New York is generally seen as more liberal than PA and thus more prone to imposing stricter rules on drilling.”
(PA to remain center of gas drilling experts day, AP, 5-4 12)
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
To receive our updates, please email jan at
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