Friday, June 8, 2012

Jan's Updates June 6, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates June 6
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:
You may have to cut and paste links- (they work erratically)
Calendar of Events
*** Ligonier Township Supervisors Meeting- June 12, 7:00, Township Building, hopefully a vote will occur on the resolution to support the lawsuit against Act 13
*** Stop the Frack Attack, Washington DC, July 28,
(Sierra Club, Calvin Tillman, Earthworks)
*** Westmoreland County Commissioner Meeting
Thenext meeting date: Thurs. June 14 at 10:00 AM at the Westmoreland County Court House.
*** 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 –from Gloria F.
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.
Before proceeding with any further plans to charter a bus we need to have a firm commitment from enough people to make the effort worthwhile. Please respond to me, gtforouzan (at), by June 7, ONLY if you plan to go if a charter bus is available.
Date: July 28 – this is a one day trip – no overnite stay
The Rally & March are from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. at the West Lawn of the US Capitol.
Round trip tickets will be in the $35 -$40 range. (Includes tolls/parking/driver tip)
The larger bus, seats 47, has a restroom on board. Handicap accessible: possible/not known at this time.
Refunds most likely will not be possible, you can sell your seat to someone else/donate it to someone who can’t afford the trip.
DEPART- Pittsburgh: 9:00 a.m.
ARRIVE- Washington, DC : 1:30 p.m.
DEPART– DC: 5 p.m.
ARRIVE- Pittsburgh: 9 p.m.
***HARRISBURG RALLY-Capitol Steps-June 19--- Clean Water Action
June traditionally marks Clean Water Action's annual lobby day, where supports from all across Pennsylvania converge on Harrisburg to meet with elected officials and ask them to stand with us on important environmental efforts. This year we doing it a little differently. This year we are spending part of the day taking the fight directly to the drilling companies that are threatening our healthy, safety, and environment and letting them know its time to CLEAN up their act.
The day will begin with a march to and demonstration outside of Chesapeake, Range, and Chief's offices. There will be a rally on the capitol steps and an opportunity in the afternoon to visit your state legislators.
We are departing from downtown at 7am and should be back between 7:30pm-8pm. Transportation to and from Harrisburg is available. We would love to have you join us and signing up is a simple as clicking on the registration link. I hope to see you there.
Action Taken on Behalf of the Group:
--Thank you sent to Murrysville Council for their vote on the resolution supporting the lawsuit against Act 13.
--Thank you written to Westmoreland county commissioner Ted Kopas for support on the resolution. Presented by Jan kiefer
--Discussed with Latrobe superintendent of schools the problem with presenting a Chamber of Commerce sponsored, industry- slanted, program on Marcellus to Latrobe and Derry students
--Letter of support sent for Dr. Almendariz who was forced to retire from his position in the EPA. Dr Almendariz courageously supported clean air standards in the southwest despite opposition from the gas industry and its political supporters.
All Township Residents—Call to Action !! Keep Those Resolutions Coming !!
**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)
Fracking Quotes
*** PA has over 300,000 gas or oil wells that have been abandoned, “that are out there somewhere that have not been properly plugged and that can serve as conduits for contamination to migrate up into existing groundwater”George Jugovic, PennFuture (see item 8)
***Considine made a clear error in not disclosing that the report was funded by an industry group, as well as flaws in the way the report was written and presented to the public. Statement from Penn State U. regarding research done by Timothy Considine. (see item 6)
*** Between 2 and 4% of gas wells will pollute local ground water over the short term”, Dr Bishop, State U of NY (see item 13)
*** Each gas well pad with associated roads and pipelines will generate a sediment discharge of about 8 tons per yearinto local waterways, threatening federally endangered mollusks and other aquatic organism,” Dr Bishop, State U of NY
***A few of the chemicals widely-used (in fracking) pose significant hazards to humans or other organisms because they are dangerous even at concentrations near or below their chemical detection limits. Dr. Bishop, State U of NY
Support for Dr Armendariz
. The following summary is from our May 14 Updates:
EPA’s Dr. 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.
Armendariz 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, Armendariz assured them that the EPA would enforce the law strictly.
Armendariz’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. Armendariz. His loss is a loss for the environmental/health community. Jan}
Sent: Our Letter of Support for Dr. Armendariz
Re: Dr. Armendariz
The Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens' Group, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, fully supports the efforts made by Dr. Armendariz to enforce laws protecting our air and health. His forced resignation is a great loss to citizens across the country as he was both knowledgeable and dedicated to the protection of air quality. His air quality data has been used as a reference nationwide and his courage is greatly respected.
Jan Milburn, Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens' Group, President
Response to our Letter (an excerpt) -(You can go to the site listed to show support for Dr. Armendariz)
Thanks so much for your contribution to the cause. There's been some late-breaking news that everyone should know about. I just wrote this statement that's going up on our official http://imanarmendariz.comsite. I hope you'll continue to spread the word.
Fracking News
1. Hearing on the Lawsuit Against Act 13
(By MARC LEVY The Associated Press HARRISBURG, Pa.)
“Seven Commonwealth Court judges will decide on a constitutional challenge by seven municipalities to Act 13. The panel heard arguments Wednesday during a session in which the judges repeatedly challenged lawyers from both sides in the closely watched case.
The heart of the argument is the extent of the state's power to tell municipalities where they must allow drilling-related activity. That includes rigs, waste pits, pipelines and the compressor and processing stations that help get gas to consumers.
At one point, President Judge Dan Pellegrini asked a lawyer representing the state whether municipal zoning becomes irrational if the state does for every industry what it did for the natural gas industry.”
2.What Fracking does to Forestlands
Aerial Pics
3.Videos of Various Aspects of Fracking
This site offers an array of videos
4. Lawsuit—Area Residents Describe Health Problems
This is an electronic version of the exact legal document filed with the Washington County Court of Common Pleas, complete with all exhibits never before released.
Feel free to use and distribute for journalistic and/or research purposes.
5.ALEC Appears To Have influenced Ohio Fracking Law
“Ohio is in the final stages of making an Exxon trojan horse on hydrofracking into state law, and it appears that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) connected Exxon’s lawyers with co-sponsors of Ohio Senate Bill 315. At least 33 of the 45 Ohio legislators who co-sponsored SB 315 are ALEC members, and language from portions of the state Senate bill is similar to ALEC’s “Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act.”
What’s most suspicious is that seven of the ten Ohio Senators co-sponsoring SB 315 are ALEC members, as are 26 of the 35 co-sponsoring Representatives.
Four of the co-sponsors of SB 315 attended ALEC’s meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., although it is unclear which (if any) of them may have been inside the EEA task force meeting the day that the fracking chemical loophole bill was discussed and approved.”
(alec slips exxon fracking loopholes into new ohio law, connor gibson, ecowatch, 6-1-12)
6.Another Gas Research Report Criticized as Biased
“Tim Considine was lead author in two reports , one issued at U. at Buffalo and one from Penn State. Critics say both reports presented misleading research and failed to disclose funding. “
The Public Accountability Initiative, a Buffalo nonprofit issued a statement regarding the research: ‘Taken together, the serious flaws in the report, industry friendly spin, strong industry ties, and fundraising plans raise serious questions about the Shale Resources and Society Institutes independence and the U. at Buffalo’s decision to lend its independent academic authority to the Institute’s work” …
Penn State retracted the original report noting that Considine made “a clear error in not disclosing that the report was funded by an industry group, as well as flaws in the way the report was written and presented to the public.”
U. of Buffalo published a correction to the report then
blocked public access to the Shale Institute website by requiring a password.
Considine, now at U. of Wyoming, has received funding from Marcellus Shale Coalition, Wyoming Mining Assoc, American Iron and Steel Institute and the American Petroleum Institute.
(critics question shale gas researcher, schools, Kevin begos, AP, 5-26-12)
7.New York Famers Express Concerns about Fracking
“Ken Jaffe who raises grass fed beef in the Catskills is concerned drilling will destroy the livelihood of thousand of small farmers who cater to co-ops and high-end restaurants in the city. The Park Slope Food Coop which buys $3 million worth of products from upstate farms has told farmers its wouldn’t buy products from any area that allows fracking fro fear of contamination. Chefs for the Marcellus, a group of restaurateurs, is calling for a ban on fracking. Members of the Northeast Organic Farming Assoc. of New York passed a resolution calling for a ban on fracking.
However, the 30,000 member NY Farm Bureau supports gas development “as long as it can be done safely.”
PA dairy farmers Carol France and Carolyn Knapp travel to other states to talk about drilling. They tell of methane contaminated wells, contractors destroying valuable timer for access roads, pipelines making cropland inaccessible, years of agricultural production lost and uncompensated, and road damage that isolates families for weeks. “I never in my wildest dreams envisioned the industrialization that comes along with this process, Knapp told an audience in North Carolina.”
(for NY farmers, fracking means salvation or ruin AP, 5-21-12)
8.PA Fears New Toxic Legacy
“Flowback is the wastewater that flows back up out of the well for about a month. Flowback is nasty stuff. The water that was pumped into the well picks up minerals that had been buried in the rock, some of them toxic and radioactive.
The water also contains the chemicals that had been added by the drillers when the water was injected into the well. The brine can continue to regurgitate fro years.
Hydrologist Andres Gavin who works for the Susquehanna River Basin Commission is involved in a monitoring project where he and his team take grab samples of stream water. The commission also plants battery-powered monitors in over 50 streams. If something unusual gets in the stream, their computers in Harrisburg alert them.
A study by Ground Water Protection Council in Texas and Ohio found that water used in drilling has come back up through old unplugged wells. George Jugovic, of PennFuture, said PA has over 300,000 gas or oil wells that have been abandoned, “that are out there somewhere that have not been properly plugged and that can serve as conduits for contamination to migrate up into existing groundwater”
(with gas boom Pennsylvania fears new toxic legacy, christopher joyce, david gilkep, NPR 5-14-12)
9.About Cornerstone Heath Clinic –by Rep Jesse White-D, Cecil
“Evacuations at the health clinic caused the clinic to close their doors. Employees became ill due to strong odors and there were indications of methane in the clinic water supply.
An investigation was clearly warranted but the DEP Oil and Gas Unit did not return phone calls from the clinic for over 2 weeks after the first evacuation. The company doing the drilling nearby was also contacted and did not respond for over 2 weeks.
DEP spokesman said the DEP found no connection to drilling. How could that statement be made without proper investigation and testing? The drilling company said the odors are not coming from their site.
The public deserves to know everything about what is being done or not done to ensure safety.”
(More than one thing smells funny about cornerstone care closure, jesse white, 5-9-12)
10.Jesse White’s Letter to DEP Leaked to Gas Industry
"Rep. Jess White-D, from Cecil, wrote to DEP Secretary Michael Krancer regarding the situation at Cornerstone Care, the non-profit community health clinic that was evacuated due to strong smells making employees ill. The letter was leaked, appearing on a pro-oil/gas website, on which they used the letter to attack White.
“It’s been three weeks now, so at what point do I get something publicly? I don’t get a response from the DEP but miraculously the industry gets it” he said. The letter was copied to 11 other state officials."
(rep white says letter leaked to gas industry web site, observer-reporter, 6-5-12)
11.U.S. Asthma Rates at All-Time High,
The proportion of Americans with asthma increased from 7.3% in 2001 to 8.4% in 2010, marking the highest level ever, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. In 2010, an estimated 18.7 million adults and 7 million children had the disease -- one in every 12 Americans.
(Thomas H. Maugh , LA Times Science, 5-15-2)
{This is not good news for those of already concerned about the health of our families, since gas operations add tons of pollutants to the air, many of which exacerbate asthma. Jan}
12. Corbett Wants $66 million Tax break for Shell
“While Gov Corbett cuts funding for schools and social services, he proposes a tax credit worth $66 million a year for the refinery planned by Shell Oil. The credits would be worth about $1.7 billion over 25 years. Shell already stands to receive 15 years of tax cuts and exemptions under a bill Corbett signed earlier this year.
PennFuture’s George Jugovic, criticized the plan saying the governor is choosing to help the corporation over the education of future generations.
The plant promises 10,000 to 20,000 jobs and is to be located in Monaca. The plant would convert ethane into ethylene, which is used in making plastics, tires and footwear.
Gov. Corbettt-R, has blamed sluggish state revenues and the rising cost of pensions and health care for the poor for his spending cuts. He however, plans to reduce business taxes.”
(proposed shell tax break in PA worth $66 Million a years, by peter jackson, AP, 6-5-12)
13. Dr. Ronald Bishop, Chemistry and Biochemistry Dept. State University of New York College at Oneonta,
A summary from “Chemical and Biological Risk Assessment for Natural Gas Extraction in New York”
---More than 1 out of every 6 gas well will leak fluid to the surface and surrounding rock over the next century
--Between 2 and 4% of gas wells will pollute local ground water over the short term.
--Each gas well padwith associated roads and pipelines will generate a sediment discharge of about 8 tons per year into local waterways, threatening federally endangered mollusks and other aquatic organism.
--Roads and pipelines will fragment field and forest habitat which negatively impact some birds, wildlife, and plants that require interior woodland habitats
--Some chemicals that are consistently present in flowback fluid constitute human health and environmental hazards when present at extremely low concentrations.
--Exposures of gas field workers and neighbors to toxic chemicals and noxious bacteria (from deep within the earth) are exacerbated by common practices as air/foam lubricated drilling, and the use of impoundment pits for flowback fluids.
--Human health impacts from incidents appear to include abnormally high death rates from glandular and reproductive system cancers in men and women.
- -Over the past 3 years, about 10% of Pa gas projects had serious problems and negative impacts on the environment
-More citations of the industry produced greater penalties in PA but not better practices
-When oil and gas wells were examined, it was determined that concrete shrinkage, which leads to well casing fissures, is essentially inevitable in a fifty year time frame.
-The majority of chemicals used by the gas industry have not been fully tested for human or environmental toxicity.
--A few of the chemicals widely- used pose significant hazards to humans or other organisms because they are dangerous even at concentrations near or below their chemical detection limits. These include biocides glutaraldehyde, 2,2 dibromo-3-nitrilopropionamide, and 2,2dibromoacetonitrile; corrosion inhibitor propargyl alcohol; surfactant 2-BE; and lubricants containing heavy naphtha.
--Dr. Bishop details the effects of these chemicals, which include harm to algae zooplankton, and steelhead trout at very low concentrations; toxicity to freshwater, estuarine and marine organisms, where developmental defects are induced; toxicity to water fleas, rainbow trout, and mysid shrimp, oysters. Chemical burns to tissues in skin, eyes, nose mouth, esophagus and stomach; toxicity to the liver and kidneys; toxicity to red blood cells, causing them to rupture leading to hemorrhaging; endocrine disruption with effects on ovaries and adrenal glands.
--A discussion of the toxicity of flowback fluids and cuttings is included.
--Bacteria can form black sticky films in water well where they produce hydrogen sulfide characterized by a rotten egg smell and causing neurological syndromes and in livestock, elevated birth defect rates.
14. Ohio Bill Makes it Difficult to Sue over Secret Frack Chemicals
“Environmental advocates in Ohio opposed a newly added energy-bill provision Wednesday that they say would make it virtually untenable for drilling opponents to sue energy companies for withholding chemical trade secrets.
The bill, including the provision, cleared the House committee Wednesday and will likely be passed by the full House on Thursday. But House changes will have to be cleared by the Senate.
(Sparks fly over Ohio energy trade secrets measurem, JULIE CARR SMYTH,Associated Press, 5-24-12)

15. Radio Ad On KDKA—Our Support Needed
The Communities United for Rights and Environment has a 60 second spot on KDKA radio in opposition to Gov. Corbett’s Act 13 legislation. To keep the ad running, the group needs donations.
The ad is free to anyone in the state who wants to air it on their own station. For information contact:
To hear the ad and learn how to contribute for publicity for our side:
The ad is also on YouTube: