Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates November 2, 2012
Please copy and paste links as they work sporadically.
* For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
* To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information http://westmorelandmarcellus.blogspot.com/
* To discuss candidates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/VoteProEarth/
* To email your state legislator: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/
* For information on the state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
~~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.~~ http://www.facebook.com/groups/VoteProEarth/
SCORECARD- to view Marcellus Voting Records http://www.cleanwateraction.org/files/publications/pa/Marcellus%20Scorecard%202012%20FINAL.pdf
Candidates Positions on Act 13
Local Candidates Who Voted FOR Act 13
PA Rep. Mike Reese
PA Sen. Kim Ward
Local and State 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
Kathleen Kane-running for Attorney General
Calendar of Events
***VOTE NOVEMBER 6 ***
***County Commissioners Meeting- 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the county courthouse at 10:00
*** Health Effects of Gas Extraction- Conference
November 9 7:30-5:30 Free but you must register.
Hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
I noticed Bamberger and Oswald who collated animal stillborn/ death cases linked to fracking will be attending as will John L. Adgate, PhD, MSPH — Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, which has conducted recent health studies. jan
Register at: shalegas.pitt.edu.
*** Dr. Stephen Cleghorn to Speak in Middlesex
Sponsored by MOM Nov. 13, Valencia PA
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.
Saturday, November 17 12:00-3:00 PM Friends Meeting House, Shadyside
From Marcellus Protest
Everyone concerned about fracking, new folks and old, will be welcome to the first Marcellus Protest “Frack Forum”.
The group will be observing the second anniversary of Pittsburgh’s trail- blazing ban of fracking, which grew out of our city’s mass rally and demonstration, held in the face of a drilling industry trade show on November 3, 2010.
There will be a potluck meal, meeting and mingling, celebration and strategizing. Come bring your contribution to our table and to our conversation.
***The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project: A public exhibit at Pittsburgh Filmmakers Galleries, until Jan. 6-- more than 50 images telling the stories of Pennsylvanians affected by the Marcellus Shale gas industry (also online at http://the-msdp.us).
(Full details, with latest updates, and a more extensive list of events, are on-line at www.marcellusprotest.org/event_calendar.)
*** “Finding them and certain volatile organic compounds in the water test results would link contamination of groundwater to gas well drilling and fracking operations”, said John Smith, an attorney with Smith Butz Law Firm, speaking of heavy metals found in residents’ water but not reported to them by the DEP.
*** “ EPA estimates show oil and gas development, storage and gas processing facilities release 127,000 tons of hazardous chemicals into the air and water each year, second only to coal-fired power plants,” Adam Kron, attorney with EIP.
***“Not one state nor the federal government requires drillers to disclose what they call proprietary drilling formulas which include hormone disrupting and cancer causing chemicals. Drillers pumped 780 million gallons underground from 2005-09 containing about 750 different chemicals. Sharon Guynup’s editorial on fracking.
*** The following information on water testing and methane is from the Brian Oram Site:
New facts sheets and website on methane gas migration
New Private Well Owners Survey for:
PA - http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NMG6RQ3
Glad to be Working on the Citizens Database - Submit Your Data
*** Nurses Rise-Nurses for Safe Water: ( Facebook site) “Nurses, as the most trusted of professionals, call on all health care professionals to join us in raising awareness of the clear and present danger to our water, our source of life and health, threatened by fracking.”
***Video--Maggie Henry Organic farm in Lawrence County
“Laurie Barr of Potter County has a new video about Maggie Henry’s farm in Bessemer, Lawrence County. Maggie has an organic farm in the historic Bessemer oil fields, where there are hundreds of unplugged abandoned wells which are conduits for methane migration, that has caused houses to explode in other PA legacy fields after Marcellus drilling started.
Shell Oil is now drilling about 4,000 ft. from Maggie’s farm with little regard for the abandoned wells in the area. Here’s the video about the situation”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7EJs7bgmkE&feature=youtu.be
Laurie is the co-founder of Save Our Streams PA (http://www.saveourstreamspa.org/) and has a video introduction to PA’s abandoned wells. She also operates an orphaned and abandoned well Scavenger Hunt which anyone can join from wherever they are.
***Cancer Rise in Barnett Shale-Residents Want Answers
Cancer clusters in Texas of leukemia in children and breast cancer in women-from a television news clip
***Carnegie Mellon Puts Shale Data Online
Faced with a scattered body of research and background information about the booming Marcellus and Utica shale industries, officials and students at Carnegie Mellon University have compiled a searchable “bibliography” of more than 1,000 documents online.
While the bibliography has more than 200 documents in the category of “economic impacts,” for example, just two are in the “crime and drugs” category. Those gaps in knowledge can point the association to areas where it can sponsor further research, Knittel said. The database includes sources that have a stated pro- or anti-drilling stance, Strauss said, but the team’s goal was simply to compile as much information as possible, not to weigh the merits of the reports or take sides.
1. DEP ETHICS QUESTIONED AGAIN!
Rep Jesse White calls for probe of DEP water testing reports
November 1, 2012 6:17 pm By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“The PA DEP has created incomplete lab reports and used them to dismiss complaints that Marcellus gas operations have contaminated residential water supplies and made people sick, according to court documents and other sources.
State Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, today called on state and federal law enforcement agencies to investigate the DEP for "alleged misconduct and fraud" described in sworn depositions in a civil case currently in Washington County Common Pleas Court. "Anyone who relied on the DEP for the truth about whether their water has been impacted by drilling activities has apparently been intentionally deprived of critical health and safety information by their own government.” said White.
Mr. White's call for an investigation came after the release of two depositions of DEP employees, one of whom, Taru Upadhyay, the division director of DEP's Bureau of Laboratories, said the department's lab reports to property owners didn't contain a full array of contaminants found by the lab's testing.
According to the deposition transcript, Ms. Upadhyay said the DEP’s lab tests water samples for a full battery of contaminants, but at the direction of the department's Office of Oil and Gas Management, limits the number of contaminants reported to the oil and gas division and the property owner.
In her deposition, Ms. Upadhyay said the department's oil and gas division directed the lab to generate water test reports to homeowners that omitted the full menu of findings for heavy metals, including lithium, cobalt, chromium, boron and titanium, some of which are human carcinogens, as well as volatile organic compounds that are associated with hydraulic fracturing fluids.
Those metals are Marcellus Shale markers, found in the shale layer a mile or more underground in Pennsylvania. They are released by "fracking" of the shale and can be carried by flowback fluids to the surface.
Finding them and certain volatile organic compounds in the water test results would link contamination of groundwater to gas well drilling and fracking operations, said John Smith, an attorney with Smith Butz, a firm representing eight people in the Washington County case against Range Resources and 12 of its subcontractors. Their case contends that they face serious health problems and increased cancer risk due to exposure to toxic chemicals in their air and well water near Range's Yeager drill site in Amwell.”
2. How Your Tax Dollars Helped Fund the Gas Industry
“For over thirty years the federal government contributed more than $100 million in research to develop fracking and billions more in tax breaks. Congress passed a huge tax break in 1980 specifically to encourage unconventional gas drilling. The Dept. of Energy invested about $137 million in gas research over 30 years and the federal tax credit for drillers amounted to $10 billion between 1980 and 2002.
President Obama has suggested continued funding for renewable energy but eliminating billions of dollars in subsides for oil and gas. Romney calls that an obsession with green jobs and has vowed to cut wind power subsidies keep federal support for ethanol.”
(decades of federal dollars helped fuel gas boom, kevin begos, AP, 9-24-12
3. PA Has 200,000 Abandoned Oil and Gas wells
“PA has estimated $200,000 abandoned oil and gas wells but knows the location of only a tiny fraction of them--a problem for drillers trying to avoid the old wells.
Shell oil was drilling in Tioga County when a 30-foot geyser of methane gas and water erupted prompting evacuation of homes. The gas came from a shallow formation and made its way into an abandoned well drilled in 1932 according to State Impact PA.
DEP estimated about 325,000 wells have been drilled in PA. But only 120,000 have state permits on files. Until 1955 the state did not require operators to report the locations of their wells.
A lack of funding has slowed the pace of plugging wells, Gene Pine of DEP said. There is not the money or resources to plug all wells and that though is it rare abandoned wells can serve a conduits. Fred Baldassare, former DEP geologist said of the 5 or 6 cases where an active drilling site crossed an abandoned well, when the new and old operations did intersect, the results were often dramatic.”
( PA has 200,000abandoned oil gas well, AP, latrobe bulletin,10-11-12)
4. 17 Groups say Gas Industry Should Report Toxic Chemicals
“The oil and gas industry is not required to report toxic chemical releases related to fracking to federal regulators like many other industries. 17 environmental groups say it should and petitioned the EPA to require the oil and gas industry to report its air and water emissions to the federal Toxics Release Inventory. TRI is a database containing information on the disposal and release of more than 650 toxic chemicals from thousands of manufacturing, mining, chemical and electric power facilities nationwide.
Eric Schaeffer, director of the Environmental Integrity Project, an advocate for enforcement of environmental laws, said adding the industry to TRI will "allow citizens, industries and government agencies to better decide how resources can be developed responsibly." Adam Kron, an attorney with EIP, said EPA estimates show oil and gas development, storage and gas processing facilities release 127,000 tons of hazardous chemicals into the air and water each year, second only to coal-fired power plants. An EPA spokeswoman said the agency has received the petition and is evaluating it. The Marcellus Shale Coalition, a gas industry lobbying group, said it opposes any listing of its emissions and discharges.
Press Release and more:
5. Earthworks Health Study Shows
Illnesses Increase Near Gas Operations
Gayathri Vaidyanathan, E&E reporter
October 19, 2012
“"……states are playing roulette with public health," said Nadia Steinzor, eastern program coordinator of Earthworks' Oil & Gas Accountability Project and lead author of the report.
The rumored health impacts of shale gas development include headaches, fatigue, sinus problems, bad odor and pets falling ill. The study, based on self-reported surveys of people living near oil and gas sites, found that 88 %of those surveyed experienced sinus and respiratory issues since extraction began. About 80 % reported a change in mood or energy. And 74 % reported neurological problems.
The frequency of reported health problems increased closer to oil and gas facilities. For example, only 27 % of the respondents living more than 1,400 feet away from wells reported throat irritation. In comparison, 74 % of respondents living less than 500 feet away reported the symptom. 81% percent reported bad odors.
"Think about what it's like to live when you have ongoing emissions from the gas operations as well as these odor events inflicting health impacts on you on a daily basis," said Wilma Subra, prominent environmentalist and co-author of the report.
The project leaders also collected water and air samples from the environments of the most severely affected respondents to find possible routes of exposure.
The tests found VOCs, which can be carcinogenic beyond safe limits, are present in at least some sites, matching results from earlier tests conducted by the DEP(EnergyWire, July 25). At some sites, the levels of benzene in the air equaled or exceeded the levels found in urban areas of the United States, remarkable for rural Pennsylvania but still below federal safe limits.
The water samples contained a number of metals and methane, but without background readings from before shale gas extraction began, the study could not say whether the amounts have changed over time.”
To Read the Report:
6. Sharon Guynup on Fracking
“Not one state nor the federal government requires drillers to disclose what they call proprietary drilling formulas which include hormone disrupting and cancer causing chemicals. Drillers pumped 780 million gallons underground from 2005-09 containing about 750 different chemicals.
The root of the regulatory breakdown lies with elected officials who take hefty campaign contributions from frackers then pass industry friendly rules. A current flag waving “Vote 4 Energy” TV ad boasts job creation, though most frack jobs are short- term and go to out to out- of -state transient workers.
The European REACH system offers a good model, requiring companies not governments to prove that the chemicals they produce or use are safe. The oil and gas industry must similarly prove that fracking is safe: No data, no drilling.
This November examine your candidates’ funders. Are they working for big oil and gas or are they working to keep you and your family healthy and safe, while promoting our nation’s clean energy needs.”
(fracking the law, Sharon Guynup, Latrobe bulletin, 10-23-12)
7. Fracking and Radon- Has the USGS Been Co-opted?
“Known for its objective and scientifically rigorous research, the USGS has been pulled into the battle between environmentalists and the oil /gas industry. One skirmish involves the radioactive gas radon in gas, and the potential of radon entering consumers’ homes through kitchen stoves. When stove burners are turned on, radon, a gas that does not burn, enters a home or apartment. This potential hazard has appeared in the New York City press (The Villager, “A burning issue about pipeline: Will gas pack radon?” October 11, 2012)
In response to a scientific article I authored calculating the possible radon concentrations at the wellhead that has been picked up by the anti-fracking movement, the USGS sought to measure the actual radon concentrations at the wellhead. Preliminary data for two wells allegedly drilled down to the Marcellus shale formation and for other PA wells were published by the USGS in September 2012. The measured radon concentrations, from 1 to 79 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L), were on the low side of my calculations. Depending on the assumptions made, the paper I authored showed that the radon concentrations could range from 37 to 2576 pCi/L leading to an increased number of lung cancers. The calculations were not too much higher than radon wellhead concentrations measured by the EPA in pre-fracking days, 5 to 1450 pCi/L. The recent USGS radon measurements were also inconsistent with the concentrations of uranium and radium in Marcellus shale measured by the USGS in 1980.
Why were the USGS measurements so low and at variance with other EPA and USGS studies? Here the story takes an interesting turn. A call to one of the USGS researchers revealed the following:
In response to a request for the well logs, to examine whether the wells reached the Marcellus shale formation, the USGS researcher said they had none.
Then, can you give us the location of the Pennsylvania wells? With the location, we could find the well logs in Pennsylvania State files.
Well, no, that would break the trust with the gas companies that allowed us access. Okay, then how do you know you reached the Marcellus shale formation?
Because we were told so.
Who selected the wells? The US Department of Energy in collaboration with the gas companies.
Did you feel comfortable publishing what are essentially screening results? No, but pressure from higher-ups at USGS forced our hand.”
To summarize: The oil and gas industry chose specific wells, in which USGS researchers unsurprisingly measured low radon concentrations and were then pressured by the oil and gas industry to publish these preliminary findings, under the USGS imprimatur. It appears the USGS has been corrupted by the oil and gas industry.
(RMWA newsletter, Marvin Resnikoff
8. Wine and Fracking Don’t Mix
“Winery owners in New York Finger Lakes region that make fine Rieslings are worried about fracking. ‘If they allow hydro fracking anywhere near us, tourism will be over and the industry will be done,’ said Art Hunt of Hunt Country Vineyards near Keuka Lake, NY. More than 110 upstate New York municipalities have passed moratoriums or bans on drilling. Winery operators say an entire lake could be polluted with one spill of chemical laden water.”
(Wine and fracking don’t mix, Michael hill, AP, Latrobe bulletin 10-24-12)
9. Marcellus Wells Drop Off Faster than Barnett
These comments are from John, a group member:
“As I said more than a year ago, after reading the US Geological Report comparing the Marcellus and Barnett shale plays, and having a few conversations with independent petroleum engineers who are familiar with both plays, the 'drop-off rate of Marcellus and Utica shale plays was going to be quicker and decline more than the Barnett because of the density of the shale in this part of North America. The information I got from the USGS was apparently accurate.
What it means is that the Marcellus wells will have to be re-stimulated (re-fracked) more frequently than other shale plays (requiring more water and chemicals than other shale plays), and would have to be drilled in a much closer proximity than other shale plays (using up more land mass) which would mean higher post- production costs and less royalty payments for land owners, since most royalties are based on the "profit" after the company recaptures their cost. Consider that it costs an average of $2M to drill a Barnett horizontal well and an average of $4M to drill a horizontal well in the Marcellus (twice the cost-half the production).
So, when considering the drop-off rate of Marcellus wells compared to the Barnett and the Fayetteville shale plays (both of which are already in a steep decline), the life span of Marcellus wells (and the royalty payments) are going to be much less than anticipated.
Barnett wells drop off rate is approximately 50-55% every 12 to 14 months (Fayetteville is about the same)
Marcellus wells tend to drop off rate is 67% about every three to four months (the Utica is even faster).”
(John attached the USGS report to support these figures but I cannot copy from the document. Jan)
Also, Chesapeake seems to be quietly selling off their leases to a company called CGAS, which is a subsidiary of Enervest (EV Energy Partners LP.). CGAS Properties, L.P. does not have any Key Executives recorded, or listed on the web site. http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=60011692
Chesapeake selling lease to CGAS Properties,L.P.
10. W VA U. Monitoring More Rivers
“The W VA Water Research Institute at W VA U is expanding its water monitoring program to include the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers in addition to the Mon. The program was created in 2009 due to concern over total dissolved solids in the Mon.
A $700,000 grant from the Colcom Foundation will allow for the expansion of the program. Wheeling Jesuit U. will monitor the upper Ohio River from Pittsburgh to Parkersburg. Duquesne U. will monitor the lower Allegheny River and tributaries and a chapter of Trout Unlimited will monitor the upper Allegheny River.”
11. Public Meeting in Irwin on Gas Pipeline
“The 45- mile pipeline planned for western PA by Sunoco, will carry propane and ethane from Houston in Washington County to Delmont, Westmoreland County where the pipeline will tie into another line to carry substances across the state.”
(Latrobe bulletin, 10-9-12, AP)
12. Flooded Wellpad From a group member:
What does a flooded wellpad look like? Here is a photo of a flooded wellpad in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, after Tropical Storm Lee in September, 2011.
Are those cows DRINKING that water ???!!! And do those cows produce milk or meat for human consumption?! The stupidity of this is astounding!
Photo credit: Carol French
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s Group—Mission 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
Facebook Coordinator-Elizabeth Nordstrom
Blogsite –April Jackman
Science Subcommittee-Dr. Cynthia Walter
To receive our news updates, please email jan at firstname.lastname@example.org