Saturday, September 1, 2012

Jan's Updates August 30,2 012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates August 30
* 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
***County Commissioners Meeting- 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the county courthouse at 10:00
The commissioners are soliciting comments on how to spend Marcellus shale impact fees. If you cannot attend a meeting, you can fill out a survey at this link.
SEE our Blogspot--To facilitate us in providing input, Cynthia Walter has written an overview of points to consider when making comments to the commissioners. Included is Mike Atherton’s statement.
*** Health Effects of Shale Gas Extraction Conference November 9
The Third Annual Health Effects of Shale Gas Extraction Conference will be held on November 9, 2012 in Pittsburgh, PA. More information is available on the conference website:
***For a Full Calendar of Area Events please see Marcellus Protest calendar:
Fracking Quotes
*** “We passed resolutions condemning Act 13 from the beginning Whipkey said. “We thought it is our right as a municipality to be able to rule on the zoning and land use laws in our areas. Keith Whipkey is a supervisor in Ligonier Township.
*** “I’m happy the court ruled as it did. From the first moment we’ve believed we are smart enough to regulate these laws.” O’Barto, is a Unity Township supervisor.
*** “My second message is to the gas industry. Your representatives follow me around to speaking events across the state and post reports about me. You’ve commented on my make-up, my emotional life, my cancer diagnosis, and the size of my house. Which is 1,218 square feet.
“I learned that from reading the Energy in Depth blog. Hey, gas industry: I am not afraid of you. And that’s not because I’m fearless. It’s because I am so scared for the future of my children on a fracked-up planet that I have no fear left over for you.” Biologist Sandra Steingraber.
Att. John Smith and the other attorneys for the Act 13 case have presented a webinar for the purpose of understanding the Court Case. All of us should view it to better understand the Act 13 case and the zoning issues involved. 
The webinar should be required viewing for local officials--supervisors, zoning hearing board members, solicitors, county commissioners, legislators, etc. 
So please forward the webinar link to officials in your area. There should be email addresses on your township website. Everyone please take ten minutes to help and let me know who has been contacted.  If they receive the information more than once that is fine. You can cut and paste the following and forward to your supervisors, zoning people, legislators, etc.: [
The following link to a webinar on Act 13, explains the lawsuit whereby the zoning portions of Act 13 were declared unconstitutional by the Commonwealth Court.
It is presented in an understandable manner.
You will be asked to register but the registration is immediate. The entire program is about 50 minutes. 
Frack Links
***List of the Harmed
Updated as of August 25th, 2012-
The following is an ever-growing list of the individuals and families
that have been harmed by fracking (or shale gas production) in the U.S.
Should you encounter any issues (misinformation, broken links, etc.) or if you are/know someone who should be added to this list, please contact us at (
***Pine Valley –
Just 3 minutes and 42 seconds of aerial photography to inform you of the changes to Pine Creek Valley area. Most of the forested areas are Tioga State Forest.
No narration is needed
(Get angry people, then vote! jan)
***Sample Incident Report—from Sky truth
NRC Report: Other Oil (Water & Oil Based Mud Used For Fracking) near Brownsville, PA
Incident Type: MOBILE - NRC Report ID: 1022427 - Medium Affected: LAND
Fracking News
Yesterday (Aug 28), David Sanko (Executive Director of PSATS) announced that PSATS will file an amicus brief in support of the Commonwealth Court's majority opinion invalidating the zoning components of Act 13.
This is now in direct opposition to Gov. Corbett's earlier statements that PSATS supported Act 13.
2. Local Supervisors Speak on Act 13 Ruling
Unity Township Supervisor Michael O’Barto told the Latrobe Bulletin that he was pleased with the courts decision to overturn parts of Act 13. ‘I’ve said all along that the law mandates we decide any zoning laws in our township”. OBarto said, “Im happy the court ruled as it did. From  the first moment we’ve believed we are smart enough to regulate these laws.”
Ligonier Township Supervisor Keith Whipkey said he shares O’Bartos beliefs.” We passed resolutions condemning act 13 from the beginning Whipkey said. “We thought it is our right as a municipality to be able to rule on the zoning and land use laws in our areas”
Derry does not have zoning laws, and has the most shale drilling of any municipality in Westmoreland County. Derry Supervisor Vince Decario said he believes the state appeal of the decision in very important to the region. The drilling impact fee is key to this area.”
Gov Corbett filed an appeal.
(Local supervisors react to act 13, Tony Sonita, Latrobe Bulletin, 7-31-12)
3. Letter to the Editor by David Ball: Court ruled correctly on Act 13
In the Aug. 22 edition of the Observer-Reporter, a letter from Kevin Moody asserts that Commonwealth Court was wrong in ruling the local zoning portions of Act 13 to be unconstitutional. Mr. Moody makes several incorrect assertions and mischaracterizes what this portion of Act 13 will do to communities.
Act 13 assumes that one set of regulations regarding the location of an industrial activity can reasonably be applied to all of Pennsylvania. This is patently absurd. All municipalities are different and have different circumstances. That is why the state constitution allows, and in fact requires, each municipality to provide for the health, safety and welfare of its residents. He asserts that these concerns are addressed through local impact fees, but they are paltry and do nothing to address the degradation of property values and quality of life that would result from the indiscriminate insertion of industrial operations in residential areas. The police power Mr. Moody cites is, in part, delegated to municipalities for good reason. He writes that, “local concerns cannot be permitted to frustrate the legislature’s careful balancing of state and local concerns.” Act 13 is hugely one-sided, written entirely for one industry. President Judge Pelligrini was pretty clear in his rulings that the gas industry enjoys no special status allowing it to usurp the constitution.
Mr. Moody asserts that, “Act 13 does not require oil and gas operations in all zoning districts.” This is incorrect. Drilling operations, frac water ponds, storage facilities and pipelines are specifically allowed in all zoning districts. It is true that compressor plants are a use by right only in agricultural and industrial districts, but they are a conditional use in all districts and the act effectively prohibits municipalities from creating conditions, so they are, in reality, permitted in all districts. He says that well heads must be 500 feet from existing structures, which is correct, but the edge of a drill pad can be 300 feet from structures, and frac ponds and ancillary equipment can be located near the edge of the pad.
Act 13 does not address the density of either wells, compressor stations or pipelines. While wells are capable of extensive reach, multiple companies could, under Act 13, drill as many wells as they desire in a local area. Abrogating any local control means that the concept of community planning is a nullity and that communities would be forced to develop, if they can, around the gas industry.
Local zoning ordinances are not “anti drilling.” Most localities that have enacted ordinances have specifically provided for gas drilling, and many already host drilling operations. The gas industry has 20,000 permits and has drilled close to 10,000 wells, all without Act 13. This does not argue for any impeding of the industry.
No, the court was entirely correct in its ruling and we fully expect the state Supreme Court to uphold that ruling.
David M. Ball
4. What Will Stand in Zoning Ordinances? PUC To Decide
While Judge Pelligrini ruled that a section of Act 13, restricting local zoning rules was unconstitutional, he let stand sections that include pre-empting municipalities from enacting environmental laws and another that allows for local ordinances to remain in place as long as they don't address areas like setbacks from water sources, which are outlined elsewhere in the law.
President Judge Dan Pellegrini referenced the difference between the sections by saying one addresses issues of where wells can be located, while others address who regulates the act of drilling itself.
Officials at the PUC, who will administer much of the law, now are attempting to distinguish which parts of a town's ordinance may fall under the zoning section that was halted, which might be inappropriate under the statute's other portions, and which are legal.
A South Fayette review request was filed by Bill Sray, a school board member who holds drilling leases with Chesapeake Energy. He filed one request with the PUC in June, to which the agency replied that litigation over the law was still pending.
Mr. Sray filed a second request on Aug. 9, arguing that the court order didn't stop the PUC from issuing orders on other sections that are still in effect. He wrote that his town's ordinance "establishes multiple requirements that intrude on the Commonwealth's domain," including its mandatory environmental impact statement and guidelines regarding air pollution.
5. Dimock Residents Still Divided
Residents who support or oppose gas development complain that their neighbors are looking for a quick payday, either from drilling royalties or a legal settlement. They exchange snippy comments at the post office and glares at the grocery. They hold counter demonstrations to each other's rallies, hoisting glasses of dirty water or clean water, depending upon their point of view.
The DEP's investigation eventually concluded that Cabot's poorly constructed wells were to blame. It said Cabot's contractors had failed to properly seal off the wells with concrete. Natural gas was able to migrate upward through voids outside the steel casing that lined the wells, providing a pathway for methane to leak into shallow aquifers and then into private water wells.
The DEP concluded that 18 water wells serving 19 households had been contaminated and ordered Cabot to fix its gas wells. When the repairs failed to eliminate the methane problem, it ordered Cabot to plug three wells in 2010.
"The evidence that we had marshaled at that point was in my view pretty overwhelming," said Hanger. Investigators could actually see natural gas bubbling to the surface around the wells.
The DEP's experience in Dimock prompted the state to rewrite its well-construction standards, and to enlarge the area that drillers are presumed liable for impairing water quality, from 1,000 feet to 2,500 feet from a gas well. Drillers now typically test water in private wells within a half-mile of their drill sites, to establish a baseline should problems arise.
Even after Cabot was forced to repair its wells, methane continued to be a problem with some Dimock residents.
"I'm not saying I'm satisfied with the settlement," said Bill Ely, 61, who has signed a nondisclosure agreement and can't talk about details. "I'm not saying I'm dissatisfied. I'm just glad it's over."
6. France Maintains Fracking Ban
France isn’t prepared to tap its shale energy resources until “clean technologies” are invented to replace hydraulic fracturing, Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said.
The technique known as fracking causes “irreversible pollution” in some cases, the minister was cited as saying in an interview published today in Les Echos newspaper. It will probably be replaced by a different method, he said.
The French parliament passed a law last year outlawing fracking because of concern it can pollute drinking water, effectively halting plans by companies including Total SA (FP) to explore for shale gas in southern France. Fracking is widely used in the U.S., including by Total, to produce gas.
France will maintain the ban on fracking, Environment and Energy Minister Delphine Batho told RMC radio today.
7. Matt Damon Frack Movie
Matt Damon‘s next film, a drama titled Promised Land, carries a strong anti-fracking message. The film is being given exclusive viewing in New York and Los Angels on December 28th so that it can be considered for the 2013 Oscars ceremony. It will then begin its expanded release in January.
Damon co-wrote the screenplay with The Office star, John Krasinski, who also stars in the film alongside Damon. The two play opposing roles in the plot, which focuses on a natural gas company that sets its sights on a small town.
Promised Land has theme similar to It’s A Wonderful Life, where a salesman for the gas company (Damon) is woken out of his cynical way of life and has his views changed by the residents of the rural town.
If Promised Land keeps up with the buzz it is already receiving, it should make waves with the real life anti-fracking movement. It is very exciting to see more and more big-named productions coming from Hollywood with such strong environmental themes.
Matt Damon’s Anti-Fracking Movie Has Oscar Buzz by Crystal Wiltshire August 29, 2012
8. The Gas Industry is Not Suffering
From LAWPA:  Didn't the industry say that local zoning ordinances are "hostile" to gas development?     Morris Twp ok’s 34 wells in one swoop!!
Morris Township OKs 34 gas wells
Four applications for 34 natural gas wells and another one for a water booster station were approved by the board of supervisors in Morris Township Tuesday night.
9. Industry Changes Advertising -- Environmental Propaganda Will Be New Emphasis
The industry is buying more air time, billboards, and print spaces in relevant markets and using social media to make their points. They will now address environmental issues. In the beginning they focused on jobs and the benefit of leasing land for drilling sites.
Pitzarella of Range would not specify what Range is spending on advertising. Chevron and Range spent close to $1 million combined on TV advertising through June this year in the region.
Drillers combine advertising with public relations, community outreach through meetings and other efforts to stay on the good side of the consumer.
(Natural gas industry advertising shifts, AP, latrobe bulletin, 8-10-12)
10. Sharon Wilson, Texas, on Fracking Pollution
“Data compiled by Environmental Integrity from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality records how that Texans are living with a body burden or buildup of toxic chemicals in their bodies that can be traced to emission events. 85% of the sulfur dioxide and 80% of the VOCs in our (Texas, jan) environment come from natural gas operations.
Wyoming has one of the strictest disclosures laws yet at least 150 chemicals remain secret. Disclosure comes month after fracking is finished, denying landowners the opportunity for baseline testing for chemicals.
The industry disputes health claims made by resident. But when state measured chemicals in the air around you home match the chemicals detected in your blood, that is when industry should stop denying and get busy solving problems.” (the case against fracking, Sharon Wilson,, 8-11-12)
11. Krancer No Friend of the Environment-from Marcellus Monthly News
Guess who made these statements?
· The Department that I lead over-sees the development of natural gas.
· Fracking fluid is comprised of water and sand; the rest are components in common everyday use such as food additive sand cosmetics. Many of those chemicals are food grade.
· There has never been an instance where fracking fluids have contaminated groundwater.
· At the end of the day, my job is to make sure gas is done.
Michael Krancer, Gov Corbett’s selection to run the DEP
Mike Krancer’s first major decision as Secretary of DEP was to hog-tie field enforcement, forbidding any finding of “violations” from Marcellus well inspections without his personal approval. Although public reaction forced a retreat on that policy, he has since welcomed the Governor’s Executive Order which gives
drillers a “Money-Back Guarantee” if DEP takes too long to issue their permits (and punishes DEP professional staff if they don’t step lively for the drillers).
Mr. Krancer doesn’t set the state’s political priorities — Governor
Corbett does that. But the Secretary is a busy representative of the Corbett administration at pro-drilling public appearances. He’s also a favorite source for ‘authoritative’ quotes to fill the pages of ‘Energy in Depth’ — the fracking industry’s thinly veiled PR outlet.
Since taking office, Mr. Krancer has:
* Ignored contamination incidents, standing aside while drilling company representatives informed affected citizens that ‘situations were under control’ *Embraced a report from SUNY Buffalo (which failed to disclose its origins in the fracking industry) to ‘prove’ that Pennsylvania is ‘meeting its program objectives’ for safety
*Twisted the findings of a Duke University study to claim that water contamination from drilling had been conclusively disproved.
*Misrepresented the fracking industry’s unfounded ‘estimates’ of job creation as being established facts (in turn, providing industry publicists with ‘official’ sources for the ‘jobs’ claims which they themselves had manufactured).
* Promised that DEP would “work day and night” to issue permits for gas-processing plants in Eastern Pennsylvania;
* Disparaged the work of environmental groups and inter-state oversight boards, brushing them off for being “ideologically opposed to hydraulic fracturing.”
So, what’s been missing from DEP Secretary Krancer’s To-Do list? You’re right: ‘Protect the environment.’
[For more detail, including sources of quotations, see our full
12. Connections to Our Past and Conduits to our Future? Bob Donnan
Washington, Pa had another energy boom 122 years ago when derricks appeared like swing sets in everyone’s backyard.  How many of those wells were ever plugged?
Plugging of an old 1901 well near Hickory, Pa a few years after Marcellus Shale fracking was believed to have caused water well contamination at the Smitsky’s house nearby.
Bob Donnan
“Some of the earliest Marcellus Shale gas wells were drilled on properties surrounding Darrell Smitsky’s home near Hickory, Pennsylvania in 2006 and 2007. Five years later, there are 17 Marcellus wells in the one-square-mile area surrounding Darrell’s home.
Darrell had eight healthy goats as Marcellus drilling got underway around him, but over a period of several months, five of his goats died, dropping off one by one. Darrell recalls that tragic time this way, “It was like their back legs became paralyzed, and I would have to carry them into the barn. I tried various supplements and other things, but nothing worked.”
(More of Darrell Smitsky’s story with photos:
13. Incredible Speech by Biologist Sandra Steingraber
The following was a speech given by Sandra Steingraber for the Don’t Frack New York Rally in Albany, August 27, 2012.
On this day, 53 years ago, a pregnant college student walked into a hospital in rural Illinois and gave birth to a child. And then she walked out. By herself. The baby she left behind became a ward of the state. Three months later a family was found for it.
That child was me.
This story carries three messages. The first is for Governor Cuomo. At the Democratic Committee Policy Conference last week, the governor affirmed his belief in the essential value of government, calling it “the vehicle for the community.” I am Exhibit A for that noble idea.
Sometimes the vehicle for community means finding a home for an abandoned child.
Sometimes the vehicle for community means saying NO to a carcinogen-dependent industry that seeks to use our towns as their factory floor, offering temporary riches for a few and permanent pollution for all.
Governor Cuomo: The state of Illinois once protected me. Now I want you to protect my two children. Governor Cuomo, say NO.
My second message is to the gas industry. Your representatives follow me around to speaking events across the state and post reports about me. You’ve commented on my make-up, my emotional life, my cancer diagnosis, and the size of my house. Which is 1,218 square feet.
I learned that from reading the Energy in Depth blog.
Hey, gas industry: I am not afraid of you. And that’s not because I’m fearless. It’s because I am so scared for the future of my children on a fracked-up planet that I have no fear left over for you.
So, let me tell you about my last name, which you mocked in a recent column. It belongs to the man who took me in when I had no home. A man who fought against Hitler’s army when he was just a teenager. A man who taught me that when you carry around a name like Steingraber, you can’t act like a good German. You stand up against bullies, and you never, never give up.
Memo to the gas industry: I am a biologist. I will debate you on the public health effects of fracking any time, anywhere. Back off my dad.
My third message is for all of you. There are a lot of crappy things about being adopted and having no ancestors, but the gift of it is that you can choose your own tribe and choose your own homeland.
I choose to belong to this place and this moment, which represents the birth of the greatest human rights movement in New York State since abolition and suffrage.
I choose to belong to a vision of an unfractured New York that turns its back on 19th century thinking and death-dealing fossil fuels and leads the world in the creation of a clean energy economy.
Are we united in this belief?
Are you ready to pledge your resistance to fracking?
Okay, friends, let’s rock this thing.
Oh, and thank you for making this the best birthday of my life.
Here’s how it’s going to work. I’ll recite the preamble of the Pledge to Resist Fracking, and then the baritone voice of Mr. David Braun will swear us all in, Occupy style.
Three thousand two hundred people have already signed the pledge, and we will be delivering these signatures to the Governor immediately after. If you want to sign and haven’t yet, please go to Don’t Frack New York dot org and add your name.
Letter to the Editor—The following is Don Dixon's letter sent to Pittsburgh Magazine- published in their September edition under feedback.
I am writing to you today to express my dissatisfaction with your one- sided comments concerning Marcellus gas drilling. You certainly put a rose- colored glass view on what the results of fracking can be. The job growth that you praise is not going to materialize. Did you happen to notice all of the out of state plates on these employee's pick up trucks? The energy companies are already pulling drilling equipment and employees out of Pennsylvania and moving them to the more lucrative fields in Ohio. After all, the cash is what this is all about.... the cash that is finding it's way into the gas company coffers.
When you were mentioning the lovely rolling hills of Washington county, I didn't hear you make mention of the large, leaky pits full of hazardous chemical waste or the swaths of land now denuded of trees and wildlife. Oh, and how about the poisoned water wells and property that is no longer worth anything?
If you are going to report on the regions growth due to investment money, shouldn't you also reveal how much the taxpayers are going to have to pay to repair all the damaged infrastructure and super fund clean up costs?
As the publisher of Pittsburgh Magazine don't you think that perhaps you should provide a balanced view of this modern day miracle?
Thanks for Your Time, Don Dixon, McCandless
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens 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
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