Friday, October 26, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates October 25, 2012  (Sorry!- I am having difficulty with pictures)
* For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
* To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information
* For information on the state gas legislation and local control:
~~It’s time to check the facebook candidate site for information about those candidates who have expressed concerns about environmental and health risks from fracking.~~
SCORECARD Marcellus Voting Records
You may have to Cut and Paste Links-(they work erratically)
Candidates Positions
Candidates Who Voted for Act 13
PA Rep. Mike Reese
PA Sen. Kim Ward
Candidates who Have Presented Statements of Concern About Drilling
Harriet Ellenberger-running against Mike Reese
Patrick Leyland-running against Eli Evankovich
Eugene DePasquale-running for Auditor General
If you know the vote of your rep. and want me to send it out next week, email me.
Fracking Quotes
***The Marcellus Shale Coalition 3 Rivers ( Fishing) Challenge was a brainchild of our land affairs committee” said Kathryn Klaber, president of the gas drilling coalitions.
***Pennsylvania politicians sold gas companies the right to pollute Pennsylvania’s land, air, and water for bargain basement prices,” said Josh McNeil, Executive Director of Conservation Voters of PA
*** “The industry has largely had its way in Pennsylvania and has spent millions to put their friends in the state legislature and the Governor’s mansion. The industry’s focus now is on protecting these investments and maintaining access to key elected officials.” said James Browning, Regional Director of State Operations for Common Cause.
Calendar of Events
***County Commissioners Meeting- 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the county courthouse at 10:00
*** Fracking Workshop Led by Lois Gibbs from Love Canal
By Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) and Marcellus Outreach
Butler (MOB)
When: Sunday October 28 from 12pm-4pm
Where: Days Inn Conference Center: 139 Pittsburg Rd. (Rt. 8 South)
Butler, PA 16001
What do Love Canal and Pennsylvania have in common? The answer might shock you. The infamous Love Canal was poisoned by harmful chemicals because of reckless corporate greed. Now Pennsylvania is being polluted by dangerous
fracking chemicals. Bromide, arsenic and other heavy metals can contaminate water and toxic methane can enter our homes and wells. These are just a few examples of the dangers we face. What can we do about it? How can we stop this from continuing?
-Lunch will be included-
***Dr. Stephen Cleghorn to Speak in Middlesex
Sponsored by MOM
Nov. 13, Valencia PA
Please see the poster at the bottom of the newsletter for details
As owners of a certified organic farm and licensed goat dairy, Stephen and Lucinda committed themselves to creating a farm that, as Stephen put it, “helps to heal our environment – our atmospheric, aquatic and botanic commons by which all human and animal life is sustained.
In 2009, the couple learned that their land had been leased for an $80,000 signing bonus by the owner of the gas rights. When the couple bought the property in 2005 they knew the gas rights had been severed (a practice known as a “split-estate”), but their understanding was this meant they might have to put up with a relatively small “shallow” gas well being put on their farm in a location over which they would have some control. However, Stephen and Lucinda found themselves in a much different situation. A Marcellus Shale well – which consumes 5 to 10 acres of their land – is being permitted just 3,500 feet from their house, upwind of the organic pastures on which their goats graze and their hay is made.
***Fayette County Needs Support
Please help get the word out & try to attend. Fayette County needs our support! You can use this list to make car-pooling arrangements.
October 30, 2012 - 6:30pm
PA DEP Hearing: Shamrock Compressor Station - Fayette County
New Salem Volunteer Fire Department
650 Footedale Road
New Salem, PA
November 2, 2012 - 1:30pm
Court hearing against unlicensed fracker security co.: Templar Protection, LLC.
Courtroom #3 - Washington County Courthouse
1 South Main Street
Washington, PA 15301
Frack Link
***Report – Gas Patch Roulette
How Shale Gas Development Risks Public Health in PA
Fracking News
1. Pa. Supreme Court hears drilling, zoning debate
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had an unusual standing-room-only crowd Wednesday, as lawyers debated Act 13.
Representatives of seven municipalities say Act 13, takes away their ability to control gas drilling operations through local zoning, leaving them defenseless to protect homeowners, parks and schools from being surrounded by drilling sites or waste pits.
"It is the role of the court to address whether the legislature went too far," said Jordan Yeager, one of the lawyers representing the municipalities.
In July, the state Commonwealth Court ruled 4-3 that the zoning aspects of Act 13 violated the state constitution, and Gov. Tom Corbett's administration appealed. The Supreme Court currently has three Republicans and three Democrats, and cannot overturn a lower court decision on a 3-3 tie vote.
The Corbett administration says the sweeping law is constitutional, and doesn't violate the rights of municipalities or residents. Matthew Haverstick, one of the lawyers representing the state, noted that municipalities are created by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. "When the general assembly wants to, it can override local zoning," Haverstick said. "I think the analysis stops right there."
But several justices questioned whether the power of the legislature is unlimited. "Isn't the whole purpose of zoning to protect neighbors?" Justice Max Baer asked. "There's a point where government can go too far."
Justice Thomas Saylor questioned whether the law "could in effect turn private residential communities into industrial zones," and Justice Seamus McCaffery asked "about the constitutional right of the citizenry for quiet enjoyment" of their property.
Some local officials say Act 13 puts them in a difficult legal position, because part of their job is to protect the health and safety of their communities.
"We believe Act 13 clearly violates the Pennsylvania constitution and makes it impossible to carry out the responsibilities of elected office," Robinson Township supervisor Brian Coppola said in a statement.
Haverstick suggested that the high court "must defer to the policy of the legislature," prompting Baer to interrupt and say, "I have problems with that."
Jonathan Kamin, another attorney for the municipalities, added that "everyone else has to follow the rules on local zoning," and claimed that "since the 1880s there has not been one industry" that has been given the broad rights granted under Act 13, which allows companies to drill and put waste pits even in residential areas.
Act 13 also imposed an "impact fee" on gas drilling companies, and this week the Corbett administration announced how $204 million from this year's receipts will be distributed. But in an unusual twist, they plan to withhold payments to four of the municipalities involved in fighting Act 13.
The hearing lasted about two hours, and the courtroom was filled with representatives of the gas drilling industry, their opponents, and various groups that are supporting one side or the other. The justices have hundreds of pages of legal briefs to consider, and gave no indication of when they may issue a ruling.
The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania issued a statement in support of the municipalities that are opposing Act 13, and the Columbia University School of Law is also helping to fight the legislation, as are environmental groups.
The natural gas industry, which has invested billions of dollars in Pennsylvania to exploit the Marcellus Shale formation, the nation's largest-known natural gas field, had sought the statewide rules. Some companies complained that municipalities, mostly in southwestern Pennsylvania, had tried to use zoning rules to effectively ban drilling.”
Wholesale revenues from Marcellus production this year are projected to be in the range of $6 billion to $8 billion, depending on market prices. Landowners get hundreds of millions of dollars in royalty payments out of that total, and the Corbett administration says the industry benefits the entire state by providing jobs and lowering energy costs.
KEVIN BEGOS,Associated Press,October 23, 2012PITTSBURGH (AP)
(Begos always gets in a word for the industry. He added the last paragraph about the benefits of gas, and noted that there were many people in the court room for both sides when everyone present knows that the courtroom was filed with an overwhelming majority of citizens opposed to Act 13. jan)
2. 14 Groups Ask Corbett to Change Water Notification Policy
DEP Suspect Again
Fourteen groups including Sierra Club Pa, Earthjustice, Clean Water Action, and Pa Forest Coalition, have asked Gov Corbett to reverse the change. The groups say the new policy will delay warning the public about water pollution from fracking. Under the new policy, administrators in Harrisburg will now decide whether residents should receive official determinations letters instead of expert in the field offices making that decision. The DEP policy change could save companies money from having to pay for groundwater remediation or water treatment when a dispute with a property owner arises.
Delaware Riverkeepers leader Maya van Rossum said, “The DEP geologists and water quality specialists who are uniquely qualified to make water contamination decisions cannot help but be chilled by the knowledge that their superiors will be second guessing their scientific determinations.”
George Jugovic President of PennFuture said the letters are, ”supposed to be a scientific decision based on water test results and the law”. Jugovic questioned whether top officials in Harrisburg have the experience to analyze the tests. .
John Hanger, former DEP secretary said the agency bears the burden of justifying why a change was made to a science based process that reported water test results honestly and independently and professionally. “The process wasn’t broken. There was no abuse. The field staff is professional and careful and does a good job”, said Hanger.”
(14 Eco Groups ask state.., Begos, latrobe bulletin, 10-24-12, and Report: state changes drilling notification policy, AP, latrobe bulletin, 10-16-12)
3. Corbett Administration: Trust Us; State Parks are Safe
(From: Penn Future)
The Corbett administration and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) have made a series of positive statements on protecting the state parks. These came as a result of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Don Hopey's detailed interview with ousted state parks director John Norbeck.
Gov. Corbett has weighed in, responding to a reporter's question at an unrelated event, saying that there are no plans to drill for natural gas in state parks. DCNR Secretary Richard Allan went further, stating that the agency is not considering gas drilling, commercial timbering, or strip mining in our state parks.
PennFuture welcomes and appreciates these statements from the Corbett administration. We look forward to working with the administration, DCNR, and the House and the Senate on legislation that would provide greater and permanent protections to state parks. It is in everyone's best interest to add these protections to our parks, since the Commonwealth does not own the mineral rights under at least 80 percent of state park land. Inquiring minds want to know
PennFuture President George Jugovic Jr. will be the lead-off witness at a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on the future of Pennsylvania's state parks in Philadelphia.”
4. Chesapeake Rescinds Well Permit Near School-WVA
Chesapeake Energy has withdrawn its permit application to drill a natural gas well adjacent to Wheeling Park High School. West Virginia said Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Thomas Aluise
What this means -- at least for the time being -- is that the company will not be sinking a natural gas well a quarter-mile from the high school, a proposal that drew criticism from some community members and school officials over safety concerns.
5. The Grassroots Report –from a group member
Since Nov. 2010, when Pittsburgh banned drilling, the drillers' Shill in Chief, Kathryn Klaber warned that Pittsburgh would never get "big" fracking conventions, never ever.
Recently Rich Fitzgerald's spouting Klaber's fairy tale: “Critics such as Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald have said the ban prompted the industry to bypass Pittsburgh when deciding locations for corporate headquarters and conventions.”
Just because you repeat a lie umpteen times doesn't make it magically become the truth. The gas is here- under our feet - that's why the frackers are desperate to be here.
I did a bit of googling & guess what I found during my brief search. Yep, you guessed it. Since Nov. 2010 - when we passed the ban, Pittsburgh's had:
Five major drilling industry conventions in 2011; seven in 2012 ;
And we've already got three big ones lined up for 2013.
6. Was there Any Doubt About Why Impact Fees Were Withheld from Cecil, Mt Pleasant, Robinson, and S. Fayette??
Corbett’s Harassment
“We’re not too prone to buy into conspiracy theories. John F. Kennedy and, for that matter, Robert F. Kennedy, were likely killed by lone, unhinged gunmen. Men did, in fact, walk on the moon. And the notion that the World Trade Center came down Sept. 11, 2001 as a result of explosive charges is preposterous.
However, it seems to be more than a mere, random coincidence that the four municipalities across all of Pennsylvania that are having their oil and gas drilling ordinances challenged before the state’s Public Utilities Commission are Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and South Fayette townships. All four, along with Peters Township and two Bucks County communities, were plaintiffs in a lawsuit taking on the zoning provisions of Act 13, the statewide law regulating oil and gas drilling signed onto the books earlier this year by Gov. Tom Corbett.
Commonwealth Court ruled in the townships’ favor in July, stating that the zoning provisions were unconstitutional and usurped the land- use planning rights of local communities. It appears that the success the townships enjoyed in the courtroom is being countered now with what is, basically, harassment from the industry and Harrisburg.
On Monday, Gov. Corbett and the PUC announced that fees due to the four communities, totaling about $1 million, were being put on hold until the PUC completes the reviews of their ordinances. The checks are, alas, not in the mail.
The request to review the Cecil ordinance filed by resident Alan Rank, to cite one example, argues that the township has “repeatedly acted in a hostile manner toward any oil and gas development taking place within the boundaries of the township,” even though supervisors there have yet to turn down a drilling permit. It also asks that impact fees be withheld “until either adjudication can be made or compliance can be achieved.” That, right there, seems to be the whole point of Rank’s request.
In the relatively short time the natural gas industry has set up shop in Pennsylvania, it has become a powerful political player. Corbett received a little over $1 million from the oil and gas industry for his 2010 campaign, and it has been a generous contributor to campaigns of other politicians from both parties. In this instance, Corbett and the PUC seem more interested in scratching the back of the industry than helping constituents who would be able to hire police officers, fix roads, spruce up municipal parks or lower taxes with the money.
And John Smith, the attorney for Cecil and Robinson, is arguing that the state is, in fact, violating Act 13 by withholding the fees, so along with exacting a pound of flesh, it might not even be legal.
We have said on numerous occasions that we support the Marcellus Shale industry, and the economic benefits it brings the region, as long as natural gas is extracted responsibly, with respect for both communities and the environment. Municipalities that defend the health and safety of their residents shouldn’t be forced to endure arm-twisting and political gamesmanship in return.”
10/17/12 Observer Reporter Editorial:
7. Bad News For PA and WVA- More Marcellus Gas than Expected
Two financial firms say Marcellus is both the biggest and cheapest place for energy companies to drill… Production is centered in PA and WVA. George Jugovic of PennFuture said of the finding, “We should realize by now this is not going to be a short play Its going to be here probably for generations because its so productive, ….it raises the imperative on getting our regulations in order”
This excess production may have given some breathing room to NY.
“Sounds hopeful for the local economy, but the energy business has always been boom and bust so long term predictions are pretty risky, Carnegie Mellon University professor Jay Apt.”
(Latrobe bull, 1—22- 2012, Marcellus reserves larger than expected, begos, AP)
8. Fishing Tournament Sponsored by Gas Industry—(The irony)
“The Marcellus Shale Coalition 3 Rivers Challenge was a brainchild of our land affairs committee” said Kathryn Klaber, president of the gas drilling coalitions.
Some people at the event we not pleased to see that a gas-drilling group was the main sponsor. “That kind of put a damper on things. We didn’t pick up any of the freebies that they were handing out said Katie Ketcham , an area resident who stopped by the river walk with her family.”
(Latrobe Bulletin, Bass fishing and gas drilling meet, Begos, 10-2-12 AP)
9. Pennsylvania Politicians – Now On Sale
Pennsylvania is one of 11 states, which does not limit the amount of money that individuals can give to candidates. The Sky’s the Limit.
Per (download the standardized spreadsheet) “energy interests” have spent more than $23,000,000 to influence Pennsylvania politicians
Not all “contributions” are going to the “big” races. Energy corporations are moving into the smaller local contests.
Erich Schwartzel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote:Range Resources of Fort Worth, Texas, donated $3,000 to a Washington County commissioner running for state treasurer. Chesapeake Energy is headquartered in Oklahoma City but gave $1,000 to an auditor general candidate who has pledged, if elected, to investigate how Pennsylvania monitors shale drilling. And Chief E&D Holdings in Dallas sent a check for $1,000 to a Cumberland County man running for Pennsylvania attorney general.
They may be small amounts, but they make one thing clear: Some of the country’s biggest energy companies are now getting involved in some of Pennsylvania’s smaller races
In the statewide races for attorney general, auditor general and state treasurer, gas drilling firms donated at least $16,250 to the Democratic and Republican candidates from January to September, according to a Post-Gazette analysis. When contributions from energy company-affiliated PACs and utility firms are taken into account, the amount of money given by the energy sector balloons to $80,750.
Why “smaller races”? Shale drilling has become a hot topic in Pennsylvania. The Act 13’s provision for a “one-frack-fits-all” zoning, which striped local communities of their power of self-determination, has mobilize residents and heightened awareness. The provision directly effects every city and town in Pennsylvania for the benefit of the Natural Gas corporations.
In July 2012, the “one-frack-fits-all” zoning provision was struck down by the state appellate court. Within days of the ruling, the Corbett administration filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
If the PA Supreme Court upholds the appellate courts ruling the Natural Gas corporations will have to deal with zoning codes/restrictions with each individual city and town in Pennsylvania. This is something they do not want to do; however, a little cash to the “right” political candidates will grease the process.
The infusion of cash into the smaller races may seem disheartening to those of us who have chosen fresh air, clean water and healthy lands over the risk and hazards of natural gas drilling. Consider this – if we were not having an effect on the issue of natural gas drilling would these corporations be spending this amount of money on campaign “contributions”, lobbying, public relation marketing, creating and running front groups, and hiring of firms to run all of this?
9. Oil & Natural Gas Largest Industrial Emitters of VOCs
The oil and natural gas industry includes a wide range of operations and equipment, from wells to natural gas gathering lines and processing facilities, to storage tanks, and transmission and distribution pipelines.
The industry is the largest industrial source of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a group of chemicals that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone (smog). Exposure to ozone is linked to a wide range of health effects, including aggravated asthma, increased emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and premature death. EPA estimates VOC emission from the oil & natural gas industry at 2.2 million tons a year in 2008.
The oil and natural gas industry also is a significant source of emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that is more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Emissions of air toxics such as benzene, ethylbenzene, and n-hexane, also come from this industry. Air toxics are pollutants known, or suspected of causing cancer and other serious health effects.
EPA website----
Regulatory Actions
10. Pittsburghs Brown Fields and Property Values
Benjamin Robinson writes of industrial sites turned green. His work was published in the Pittsburgh Economic Quarterly and details the economic benefits of replacing the unsightly slag heap at Frick Park residential community.
Robinson says that according to his analysis, residential properties sold within 500 feet of what was originally a slag heap, enjoyed a significant boost in price, at least 50 % depending on when the house was sold and its proximity to the brownfield. He estimated the total increase in nearby home values at $405 million.
He says the economic value of green space and environmental quality are only now being realized in Pittsburgh and the nation. A recent Wall Street Journal article cited evidence that office space in New York City located near parks costs more than similar space located elsewhere in the city. University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon studies have found that proximity to large parks significantly influence property values in Chicago and her in Pittsburgh.
(Pitts. Post Gazette, 10-1-12, Turning land from brown to green, Benjamin Robinson)
(The implications should be clear for the effect of frack pits, compressor stations, and gas operations on property value. People prefer property that is not located in areas of contamination or industrialization. jan)
11. EPA Fines Atlas $84,000
The EPA (not the DEP ,jan) announced that Atlas Resources will pay an $84,506 penalty to settle air and hazardous chemical violations at its gas production facility in Avella. The EPA cited the company for violating the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, a federal law designed to inform the emergency responders about toxic chemicals in their communities. EPCRA requires facilities to submit annual reports on regulated chemicals, and routine and accidental chemical releases.
The EPA alleged Atlas failed to provide state and local emergency responders required information on hazardous chemicals stored at the company’s Avella production facility during 2008 and 2009. The agency also alleged Atlas did not comply with proper storage and handling of natural gas condensate at the site. The EPA’s investigation at various Atlas production wells in Washington County also indicated the presence of vapor releases from condensate tanks. Atlas did not admit or deny the EPA’s allegations. Currently, Atlas has discontinued operation of its natural gas extraction wells in Washington County until the company completes audits at eight of its production facilities located there. These audits are being done to ensure compliance with safeguards preventing accidental air releases and confirming operations are environmentally sound.
from bob---
There were actually 2 incidents “in Avella” in recent years, the Chesapeake incident where several workers were injured, and the Atlas incident near West Middletown (Avella zip code) with the now famous black smoke cloud… keep in mind this photo was taken after the flames and smoke had subsided for 20 or 30 minutes!



12. New Report: Natural Gas Industry Has Spent More Than $23 Million to Influence PA Elected Officials update details $774,000 in new contributions; $6.8 million in new lobbying in 2011 and 2012  
The natural gas industry has now given nearly $8 million to Pennsylvania state candidates and political committees since 2000, according to new research by Common Cause Pennsylvania and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. Top recipients of industry money given between 2000 and April 2012 were Governor Tom Corbett (R) with $1,813,205.59, Senate President Joseph Scarnati (R-25) with $359,145.72, Rep. Dave Reed (R-62) with $137,532.33, House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai (R-28) with $98,600, and Sen. Don White (R-41) with $94,150.
Total contributions from natural gas interests between 2000 and 2012: $8 million
Total lobbying expenditures by natural gas interests between 2007 and 2012: $15.7 million
After reaching an all-time annual high of $1.6 million in 2010, the new study found that contributions declined to $560,800 in 2011. Lobbying expenditures surged during this same period, however, with $5 million being spent in 2011, an increase of $1 million from 2010. An additional $1.8 million was spent in the first three months of 2012, bringing the total since Q1 2007 to $15.7 million.
“The industry has largely had its way in Pennsylvania and has spent millions to put their friends in the state legislature and the Governor’s mansion,” said James Browning, Regional Director of State Operations for Common Cause. The industry’s focus now is on protecting these investments and maintaining access to key elected officials.”
“Pennsylvania politicians sold gas companies the right to pollute Pennsylvania’s land, air, and water for bargain basement prices,” said Josh McNeil, Executive Director of Conservation Voters of PA. “For their $23 million political investment, gas companies avoided hundreds of millions in taxes that could have paid for thousands of teachers, roads and desperately needed environmental protections.”
Pennsylvania continues to be one of just 11 states that fail to limit campaign contributions, and the state’s failure to require electronic filing of campaign finance reports has resulted in delays by the Pennsylvania Department of State in making these reports available on its website. According to Common Cause, less than half of the reports due to be filed by all candidates at the end of last March were available on the DOS website as of April 20, just four days before the April 24 primary. is a collaboration of Common Cause PA and the Conversation Voters of PA
Imagephoto by bob donnan
Frac chemical area facility in Washington County, Pa
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
To receive our news updates, please email jan at