Friday, September 14, 2012

Jan's Updates Sept. 14, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates September 14, 2012
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Calendar of Events
***County Commissioners Meeting- 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the county courthouse at 10:00
The survey site for comments on the use of the impact fee has been taken down. To have input, you will need to contact county commissioners and Chris Bova, planner.
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:
*** South Fayette Meeting
From Keith:
Consider attending the September South Fayette Commissioner voting meeting scheduled for Wednesday night September 19th at 7:30 at the Municipal Building .This is a citizen-speaking meeting and I know of at least two reasons you should attend:
1. We the citizens need to again come together to voice our concerns and ask questions regarding the Marcellus drilling being planned for SF. As you are aware, the residents of Sterling Ridge have been notified to expect drilling to occur very nearby their amazing residential community. The very thought that our fellow citizens, who have invested so heavily in their homes and community, only to see those investments, their family’s health and their way of life put to risk by any single company is completely unacceptable; you know it; I know it and thank goodness so do our Commissioners of South Fayette. The good news is we have Commissioners who care about their constituents and this community. The bad news is they do not have the control over our very community that they should have given the hand they have been dealt by our state government… which brings me to the 2nd reason…
2. It is time to come out as a show of support for our awesome sitting Commissioners for the job they have done and continue to do on our behalf. Whether you speak or not (and I know many of you are not shy), to be there for them and our community this one night is not only important for our community but important for our Commissioners as well.
For a full calendar of area events please see “Marcellus Protest” calendar:
*** TIME TO CALL THE MAYOR, Ravenstahl
"Pittsburgh’s Mayor Luke Ravenstahl encouraged people to contact City Council and ask its members to overturn a citywide ban on fracking that sends the wrong message to industry, he said Monday.”
“I’ve heard from (energy company) CEOs directly they feel they’re not wanted in Pittsburgh,” he said. “It frustrates me because I haven’t heard of anyone having an interest in drilling (here).”
CALL THE MAYOR 412 255 2626 []
from NRDC
Oil and gas companies are running amok as they race to expand fracking operations in dozens of states, leaving polluted landscapes, devastated communities and plummeting property values in their wake. What’s more, fracking is exempt from some of our country’s most important environmental protections.
Call on President Obama to build on his environmental record and put the health and safety of American families first by imposing strong safeguards on oil and gas drilling!
Frack Links
*** Doug on Democracy Now-Friday Sept 14th!!
Wonderful interview by Doug Shields with Amy Goodman. She was moving at a clip and he didn’t miss a beat. I only wish she should have given more time to this important segment.
*** Seminars on Water and Wellness
From Ron and Debbie:
Everyone who lives anywhere in the region of drilling should watch these first two videos, where Dr. Wilma Subra describes the toxins and risks associated with shale gas development. You don't have to live close to a well site to be affected.
Water & Wellness: Health Impacts of Fossil Fuel Extraction
Saturday, September 8, 2012 seminar in Morgantown, WV
Part 1 - Opening greetings and a presentation by environmental scientist Dr. Wilma Subra who begins her presentation at the 12-minute mark of the video.
Part 2 End of presentation by environmental scientist Dr. Wilma Subra.
Part 3 - Presentation by Greene County, Pennsylvania resident Pam Judy describing the health effects her family has experienced from a compressor station that was built 780 feet from their new home.
Part 4 - Presentation by Christina Woods of Doddridge County, West Virginia who describes problems with dust from drilling traffic on the road near their home which were compounded when flowback being was applied to the road for dust control.
Part 5 - Presentation by Linda Headley of Fayette County, Pennsylvania who describes how being surrounded by Marcellus Shale drilling sites has adversely affected her family' health and wellbeing.
Part 6 - Presentation by Nada White of Boone County, West Virginia who describes the health effects of coal mining and mountaintop removal.
Part 7 - Presentation by panelists Dr. Michael Hendryx - Professor in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University; Dr. Jill Kriesky - Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) at University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Ben Stout - Aquatic Biologist at Wheeling Jesuit University.
Part 8 Q&A session with panelists Dr. Michael Hendryx - Professor in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University; Dr. Jill Kriesky - Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) at University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Ben Stout - Aquatic Biologist at Wheeling Jesuit University.
Part 9 Q&A session with panelists Dr. Michael Hendryx - Professor in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University; Dr. Jill Kriesky - Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) at University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Ben Stout - Aquatic Biologist at Wheeling Jesuit University.
Part 10 - Lorelei Scarbro of Raleigh County West Virginia describes what happened during and after mountaintop removal mining took place behind her house.
Part 11 - Danny Cook of Boone County West Virginia describes what happened during and after mountaintop removal mining took place behind his house.
Magazine story:
Part 12 - Diane L. Pitcock describes the WV Host Farms Program.
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. 
Audio with slides: []
Frack Quotes
***Although many human and natural activities result in habitat fragmentation, gas exploration and development activity can be extreme in their effect on the landscape. USGS Report (see article below)
*** Ultimately, the energy industry won a critical change in the federal government's legal definition of waste: Since 1988, all material resulting from the oil and gas drilling process is considered non-hazardous, regardless of its content or toxicity.Lustgarten, Abrahm and ProPublica (see article below)
Frack Facts:
1. Murrysville is Friend of the Court
As representatives from Murrysville Marcellus, Westmoreland Marcellus, Upper Burrell, Local Authority Western PA, and the Citizens for the Preservation for Rural Murrysville encouraged and witnessed the vote, the Murrysville Council voted 4 to 2 in favor of joining the NRDC "friend of the court brief" in support of the 7 municipalities challenging the constitutionality of the provision in Act 13 to suspend the Municipal Planning Code of all Pennsylvania townships.
2. Monroeville is Friend of the Court
from Debbie:
This was the result of Lois Drumheller (Monroeville councilwoman) pushing it through. Please take a quick second and email a thank you to her.
A quick note to Mayor Greg Erosenko would also be great, since he was VERY supportive. (see below)
A really big "Thank you", to Monroeville councilwoman, Lois Drumheller, and Monroeville Mayor, Greg Erosenko ,for his staunch support. 
3. West Homestead is Friend of the Court
4. Supreme Court to Hear Act 13 Appeals in Pittsburgh
A fight about the state’s new oil and gas laws will get its day in front of the state Supreme Court on Oct. 17 in Pittsburgh, the court announced Friday.
The court will hear several appeals that day about Act 13 and whether the state has power to limit municipal land-use laws governing oil and gas drilling. The court did not announce how much time it will spend on the case, only listing it among several it will host during its two-day Downtown session.
Commonwealth Court ruled in July that lawmakers unconstitutionally overstepped their authority. The state and several of its agencies are appealing.
(Tim Puko, Tribune review)
5. Lustgarten on Injection Wells—Geology is Unpredictable
(Injection wells have been used in the past for disposal of sewage and industrial fluids, based on the assumption that the waste was so deeply injected that it could not pose a problem for aquifers. The problems that have occurred with injection wells relates to injection wells used for frack fluids and provides insight into how unpredictable underground injection wells are. jan)
“-From 2007 to 2012 one well integrity violation was issued for ever 6 deep injection wells examined, more than 17,000 nationally.
-EPA keeps little data. It could not provide Pro Publica with a tally of how frequently wells fail or how often disposal regs are violated or of the number of cases of waste migration in more than 20 years. .
-The agency often accepts reports from state injection regulators that are partly blank, contain conflicting figures or are missing key details, ProPublica found.
-The brine injected from frack operations contains not just salt water but toxic contaminants
When injection wells intersect with fracked wells and abandoned wells, the combined effect is that many of the natural protections assumed to be provided by deep underground geology no longer exist.
"It's a natural system and if you go in and start punching holes through it and changing pressure systems around, it's no longer natural," said Nathan Wiser, an underground injection expert working for the EPA in its Rocky Mountain region. "It's difficult to know how it would behave in those circumstances."
"There is no certainty at all in any of this, and whoever tells you the opposite is not telling you the truth,' said Stefan Finsterle, a leading hydrogeologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who specializes in understanding the properties of rock layers and modeling how fluid flows through them. "You have changed the system with pressure and temperature and fracturing, so you don't know how it will behave."
In 1968, a corroded hazardous waste well for pulping liquor at the Hammermill Paper Co., in Erie, Pa., ruptured. Five miles away, according to an EPA report, "a noxious black liquid seeped from an abandoned gas well" in Presque Isle State Park.
In 1975 in Beaumont, Texas, dioxin and a highly acidic herbicide injected underground by the Velsicol Chemical Corp. burned a hole through its well casing, sending as much as five million gallons of the waste into a nearby drinking water aquifer.
Miami poured nearly half a billion gallons of partly treated sewage into the ground each day from the late 1980s through the mid 1990s, Hydrogeologists learned that the earth – and the flow of fluids through it – wasn't as uniform as the models depicted. Florida's injection wells, for example, had been drilled into rock that was far more porous and fractured than scientists previously understood.
Then in August 1984 in Oak Ridge, Tenn., radioactive waste was turned up by water monitoring near a deep injection well at a government nuclear facility.
"Geology is never what you think it is," said Ronald Reese, a geologist with the United States Geological Survey in Florida who has studied the well failures there. "There are always surprises."
Other gaps have emerged between theories of how underground injection should work and how it actually does. Rock layers aren't always neatly stacked as they appear in engineers' sketches. They often fold and twist over on themselves. Waste injected into such formations is more likely to spread in lopsided, unpredictable ways than in a uniform cone. It is also likely to channel through spaces in the rock as pressure forces it along the weakest lines.
Ultimately, the energy industry won a critical change in the federal government's legal definition of waste: Since 1988, all material resulting from the oil and gas drilling process is considered non-hazardous, regardless of its content or toxicity.
In a 2000 case that wasn't caused by injection but brought important lessons about how fluids could move underground, hydrogeologists concluded that bacteria-polluted water migrated horizontally underground for several thousand feet in just 26 hours, contaminating a drinking water well in Walkerton, Ontario, and sickening thousands of residents. The fluids travelled 80 times as fast as the standard software model predicted was possible.
Excessive pressure factored into a 1989 well failure that yielded new clues about the risks of injection. While drilling a disposal well in southern Ohio, workers for the Aristech Chemical Corp. (since bought by Sunoco, then in 2011, by Haverhill Chemicals) were overwhelmed by the smell of phenol, a deadly chemical the company had injected into two Class 1 wells nearby. Somehow, perhaps over decades, the pollution had risen 1,400 feet through solid rock and was progressing toward surface aquifers.
According to the model, vertical movement of underground fluids shouldn't be possible at all, or should happen over what scientists call "geologic time": thousands of years or longer. Yet a 2011 study in Wisconsin found that human viruses had managed to infiltrate deep aquifers, probably moving downward through layers believed to be a permanent seal.
According to a study published in April in the journal Ground Water, it's not a matter of if fluid will move through rock layers, but when.
Hydrologist Tom Myers' new model said that chemicals could leak through natural cracks into aquifers tapped for drinking water in about 100 years, far more quickly than had been thought. In areas where there is hydraulic fracturing or drilling, Myers' model shows, man-made faults and natural ones could intersect and chemicals could migrate to the surface in as little as "a few years, or less."
For the complete article :
Are Fracking Wastewater Wells Poisoning the Ground beneath Our Feet?
Leaking injection wells may pose a risk--and the science has not kept pace with the growing glut of wastewater
By Abrahm Lustgarten and ProPublica | Thursday, June 21, 2012 | 23)
6. From Report on Landscape Consequences of Drilling in Washington and Bradford Co. (from bob)
There are 159 impoundments in Washington County and 682 impoundments in Bradford County! (You can read the entire USGS report from the links below)
Forest Fragmentation
Fragmentation of forest and habitat is a primary concern resulting from current gas development. Habitat fragmentation occurs when large areas of natural landscapes are intersected and subdivided by other, usually anthropogenic, land uses leaving smaller patches to serve as habitat for various species.
As human activities increase, natural habitats, such as forests, are divided into smaller and smaller patches that have a decreased ability to support viable populations of individual species. Habitat loss and forest fragmentation can be major threats to biodiversity, although research on this topic has not been conclusive (With and Pavuk, 2011).
Although many human and natural activities result in habitat fragmentation, gas exploration and development activity can be extreme in their effect on the landscape. Numerous secondary roads and pipeline networks crisscross and subdivide habitat structure. Landscape disturbance associated with shale-gas development infrastructure directly alters habitat through loss, fragmentation, and edge effects, which in turn alters the flora and fauna dependent on that habitat. The fragmentation of habitat is expected to amplify the problem of total habitat area reduction for wildlife species, as well as contribute towards habitat degradation. Fragmentation alters the landscape by creating a mosaic of spatially distinct habitats from originally contiguous habitat, resulting from originally contiguous habitat, resulting in smaller patch size, greater number of patches, and decreased interior to edge ratio (Lehmkuhl and Ruggiero, 1991; Dale and others, 2000).
Fragmentation generally results in detrimental impacts to flora and fauna, resulting from increased mortality of individuals moving between patches, lower ecolonization rates, and reduced local population sizes (Fahrig and Merriam, 1994). The remaining patches may be too small, isolated, and possibly too influenced by edge effects to maintain viable populations of some species. The rate of landscape change can be more important than the amount or type of change because the temporal
dimension of change can affect the probability of recolonization for endemic species, which are typically restricted by their dispand Merriam, 1994).
See : Landscape Consequences of Natural Gas Extraction in Bradford and Washington Counties, Pennsylvania, 2004–2010
USGS Report – September 5, 2012 (PDF-3.21MB)
7. Europe Debates Fracking
Tough new regulations could be slapped on the shale gas industry if the EU acts upon legislative and environmental failings identified in its most comprehensive analysis yet of the sector, due to be released today [7 September].
Shale gas drilling poses a ‘high risk’ to human health and the environment that is worse than that posed by other fossil fuels, according to a 300-page report prepared by the EU's environment directorate. It is also currently unregulated.
The study identifies eight areas of high-risk due to the cumulative effect of multiple shale wells, including the contamination and depletion of ground and surface water, and degradation of biodiversity, land, air quality and seismic conditions.
Because of the health and environmental risks, the study recommends that fracking should only be allowed under strict conditions, and not yet on an industrial scale. No fracking should be allowed in areas where water is being used for drinking purposes.
“Do nothing’ does not seem to be an option anymore,” one EU official told EurActiv. “There are barriers, gaps and uncertainties and this is not the best premise to establish a shale gas industry in Europe.”
This debate may be hard fought. The EU’s energy directorate favors a soft regulatory touch exemplified by a report earlier this year by the Belgian law firm Philippe and Partners, which concluded that no further European legislation was needed.
But officials within the EU’s environment and climate directorates are more cautious about giving the green light to an industry that faces prohibition in some EU countries due to its environmental implications, which have even been linked to earthquakes.
8. The Victim Become the Enemy
Louis Meeks, a hay farmer in Pavillion, Wyo., holds a mason jar under a faucet in his house and turns on the water. It’s a demonstration he’s given to a slew of neighbors and government officials. The water, drawn from his backyard well, is cloudy and smells like diesel. “Would you want to drink it?” he asks. Meeks blames his poor water quality on fracking
After sampling and analyzing his water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last December issued a preliminary report citing the Pavillion area as the one—and only—place in the nation where fracking is causing water contamination. Far from thanking Meeks for raising the alarm, his neighbors in the town (population: 231) now say he’s responsible for driving real estate buyers and business away. “It was instantaneous, like the spigot was turned off,” says Ginny Warren, describing how sales at her restaurant dried up. “I’m stuck with a property that I couldn’t give away if I wanted to.”
The bottom line: Wyoming, which earned $430.4 million in 2011 gas extraction taxes, asked the EPA to redo tests after it said fracking tainted water.
9. Fight Continues over Water Contamination in Leroy, Bradford County-Residents vs. DEP (again)
Pennsylvania’s environmental chief, Krancer, asserted two months ago that a faulty gas well that spiked nearby drinking-water wells with high levels of methane had been patched, and ‘‘the situation is for the most part over.’’
But a report commissioned by an anti-drilling group concludes that methane migration continues to be a problem in Leroy Township — with no end in sight. Gas Safety Inc., a Southborough, Mass., company that provides gas leak detection to homeowners and industry, said in a report released to The Associated Press that it found pockets of nearly pure methane a few inches below the soil surface, and detected a large plume of gas in the air.
The report concludes that ‘‘fugitive methane’’ from one or more Marcellus gas wells may be entering faults and fractures deep underground, migrating to the surface, and contaminating residential drinking-water wells.
Gas Safety returned to Leroy Township for a second survey, this one commissioned by environmental activist Don Williams and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, an anti-drilling group based in the Poconos.
Among the findings: Methane concentrations as high as 94 percent just below the soil surface; an airborne methane plume covering about 1.6 square miles; and bubbling in Towanda Creek.
Environmental scientist Bryce Payne, who co-authored the Gas Safety report, told the AP that gas drilling in the region is almost certainly responsible for the methane that he and other researchers detected during their July 25 visit, though his research was not intended to trace the gas back to a specific well.
‘‘Though the gas is no longer hissing out of the ground, it is clear that at this point the event and the damage to groundwater and the domestic wells it supplies is certainly not over, and there is no foreseeable end in sight,’’ he said.
A copy of the July 25th Leroy Methane Survey performed by Gas Safety Incorporated can be linked to:
11. Chesapeake No Longer Top Producing
Chesapeake Energy is losing its hold as the market leader within the state. New state production reports out this week show Chesapeake does not own any of the top producing 25 wells in Pennsylvania. All 25 of the best wells are now owned by either Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (COG), who owns eight of the top ten wells, or private Citrus Energy. State records further show after drilling an average of 235 wells each year for 2010 and 2011, Chesapeake has drilled just 64 wells in Pennsylvania so far this year.
12. Shell Tax Break Takes Dollars from Local Government
The billion dollar tax break for the cracker facility would cut property tax revenues but local officials still want the plant. The school district could lose $275,000 in property taxes and the township of Potter could lose about 7% of its annual budget under a state tax incentive package proposed by Gov Corbett where the businesses that would locate there would be exempt from state and local property taxes for 15 years. . The dollar figures represent ht property taxes currently paid by Horsehead Corp Zinc smelting plant which is moving.
(Shell tax breaks could impact local government, AP, Latrobe bulleting, 8-30-12)
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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