Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates November 29, 2012
Information contained in “Updates” is contributed by people from the entire western PA area. Thanks so much to everyone who helps to keep us informed, especially Bob, Ron, Gloria, Debbie, and John T. but so many others as well.
* 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-
*** Westmoreland County Commissioners Meeting- 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the county courthouse at 10:00 AM.
**Bids to frack Pgh. Airport opened
Pittsburgh International Airport
December 5, 2012
**Water for Woodlands
December 8, 2012 - 4:30pm
RSVP by Dec. 1: 724-452-5556
For a full calendar of area events please see “Marcellus Protest” calendar:
***On Pipelines (from Bob)
***Neighborhood pipeline leak and explosion video:
***Large 36” gas pipeline explosion:
***Pipeline Safety Awareness
*** ‘How to’ video – Find pipelines near you
***Good instructional video on pipelines
(Pipelines are not always directly under the permanent markers, or in the center of the right of way)
***SkyTruth Custom Alert Feed (just a sampling of recent alerts for my selected area )
To Sign up for Sky truth for reports on gas activity
The following SkyTruth Alerts incidents have been reported in your selected geographical area since the last update was sent.
CHEVRON APPALACHIA LLC reports drilling started on 2012-11-28 00:00:00 at site PMG ALLEN UNIT 6H in Addison township, Somerset county
Tags: PADEP, frack, spud, drilling, gas, unconventional
CHEVRON APPALACHIA LLC reports drilling started on 2012-11-27 00:00:00 at site PMG ALLEN UNIT 5H in Addison township, Somerset county
Tags: PADEP, frack, spud, drilling, gas, unconventional
PENNECO OIL CO INC reports drilling started on 2012-11-26 00:00:00 at site SLUSS 9H in Lower Burrell township, Westmoreland county
Tags: PADEP, frack, spud, drilling, oil
PA Gas Drilling Permit Issued in Mount Pleasant Twp Township
Gas permit issued on 2012-11-21 00:00:00 to KRIEBEL MINERALS INC for site K CERVENAK 001 in Mount Pleasant Twp township, Westmoreland county
Tags: PADEP, frack, permit, drilling, Gas
PA Gas Drilling Permit Issued in Carroll Twp Township
Gas permit issued on 2012-11-21 00:00:00 to CHESAPEAKE APPALACHIA LLC for site HAROLD HAYWOOD WAS 1H in Carroll Twp township, Washington county
Tags: PADEP, frack, permit, drilling, Gas
PA Gas Drilling Permit Issued in Carroll Twp Township
Gas permit issued on 2012-11-21 00:00:00 to CHESAPEAKE APPALACHIA LLC for site HAROLD HAYWOOD WAS 1H in Carroll Twp township, Washington county
Tags: PADEP, frack, permit, drilling, Gas
Here are several links to help us quickly take action. You could easily take action on all sites in less than ten minutes:
***1. TAKE ACTION!! - Link
Tell President Obama to Protect Our Communities from Fracking!
Great news! Thanks to activists like you, President Obama has heard from more than 44,000 people who have big concerns about the local effects of exporting natural gas.
The Department of Energy says they may have their study completed by the beginning of next year, but we know the study is far from complete. There is still time to send a strong message that the public health and environmental impacts of fracking must be looked at, too!
Will you help get 6,000 more letters to President Obama by Thanksgiving by sharing this email with five of your friends and family? It's easy! Simply forward this email or post this on your Facebook and Twitter:
Thanks for all that you do,
Deb Nardone Director, Beyond Natural Gas Campaign, Sierra Club
“I am extremely concerned that the Department of Energy is not looking at the full effects of exporting liquefied natural gas as they decide how to move forward on LNG export facilities……”
***2. TAKE ACTION!! - Link
Is Governor Corbett's DEP covering up water contamination to protect the gas industry?
Call for Attorney General Eric Holder to investigation now! (From Food and water Watch)
Dear Citizen, They misled us to protect the gas companies. We need an independent investigation now. Fracking is a blatantly dangerous process for extracting natural gas from shale rock, and it has devastated the keystone state from east to west. Now, we have learned that Governor Corbett’s DEP purposely omitted contaminants like heavy metals and volatile organic compounds from water lab reports as a means of dismissing cases of water contamination. Instead of protecting people from fracking, the DEP committed fraud to protect their friends in the gas industry from the legitimate concerns of Pennsylvanians with contaminated water
Ask Attorney General Eric Holder to authorize an independent special prosecutor to investigate the DEP. Governor Corbett isn't shy about his close relationship with the fracking industry. Corbett received $1.8 million from friends like gas magnate Terry Pegula. In return, he stripped state regulations, opened up state lands and gave the fracking industry billions in tax breaks, including a nearly $2 billion tax break for Pegula's Royal Dutch Shell. He's given the keys to our keystone state over to the gas industry, and they are taking its residents for a joyride. We don't know how extensive the problem is, or whether the gas industry has managed to subvert other state regulators to do similar things. An investigation by the Department of Justice is the only way to get real answers here — call for an investigation now.
Recently released deposition testimonies could be a sign of widespread corruption in the DEP implicating Secretary Michael Krancer and Governor Corbett himself. We need an independent investigation into this situation, and we need it now — Will you join us in asking Attorney General Holder to investigate the Pennsylvania DEP? Take action to help get to the bottom of this fracking industry cover-up: http://act.foodandwaterwatch.org/site/R?i=iHQH9HjYAUfwod9i_dT7KwThanks for taking action, Sam Bernhardt Pennsylvania Organizer Food & Water Watch email@example.com
***3. TAKE ACTION!! - Link
DEP uses controversial system to only report a portion of drinking water test results to residents- From Clean Water Action
One the biggest fears for people living near drilling is the possibility of their drinking water being polluted. We expect the DEP to look out for us, to safeguard this vital resource and to alert us when issues arise that may impact our health and drinking water. Unfortunately, DEP has let us down -our trust has been shaken and eroded by the recent uncovering of a controversial DEP policy and practice. You can help us change it and protect our communities today!
It was revealed, in testimony by the DEP Bureau of Laboratories Technical Director Taru Upadhyay, that DEP is not reporting all the contaminants discovered when it tests residential drinking water. If a resident’s water was tested due to concerns related to gas drilling operations, the DEP uses a specialized code system that only reports the findings for 8 out of 24 total contaminants tested for. Many of the contaminants that aren’t reported are carcinogenic and known to pose human health hazards and some have been found in flowback and produced water from drilling operations. This is unacceptable – tell our elected officials that this policy must change!
There is no justification for intentionally releasing partial information to residents. These procedures lack transparency, withhold vital data from affected households and the public, force residents to potentially undergo prolonged exposure to contaminants that can impact health, and delay action necessary to correct pollution of drinking water supplies. It’s time to change this practice and report all contaminants.
We are calling for swift action to correct this practice and ensure that the DEP is living up to its responsibility of looking out for the public’s best interest. As always, your help will be critical in achieving this change. Click here to email Governor Corbett and your local legislators and ask them to support our efforts.
For clean water,
Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Campaign Coordinator
***4. TAKE ACTION!! To write a letter…
DEP Does Not Disclose All Water Test Results
Write a Letter—Mountain Watershed Will Help
Dear members, concerned citizens:
Mountain Watershed Association is one of many groups that has been closely monitoring the current controversy regarding Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) water testing and notification policies surrounding oil and gas impact investigations. This comes in light of DEP Secretary Michael Krancer’s announcement that positive notices of water pollution from shale gas operations will now be reviewed and approved by administrators in Harrisburg rather than by local DEP directors. Also, the PA DEP has received a lot of criticism this month after troubling information was recently revealed through depositions in the case of Kiskadden vs. PA DEP - that DEP only reveals 8 of the 24 water test results to homeowners, even if those other 16 results are of potentially harmful contaminants.
Mt Watershed--Why We Responded
We are distressed by the fact that DEP spends taxpayer dollars to collect water samples from homes suspected to have water contamination by oil and gas operations, then only reveals a fraction of those test results to homeowners who certainly have a right to know everything that shows up in their water supply. Meanwhile, a similar test for the average private water well can cost upwards of $1,200 to find that their water may not be safe to drink, cook, or bathe in. That’s why Mountain Watershed Association, along with 25 other organizations, signed on to a letter sent to Governor Tom Corbett calling on the administration to:
*Require DEP to report all data from households where well water was sampled due to suspected contamination from oil and gas operations;
*Revoke the new DEP policy requiring administrators in Harrisburg to approve any positive notices of water contamination before public notification is made;
*Report missing results from all past and present well water tests ordered by the DEP to well owners immediately.
Why You Should Respond Too
Our state government hears from us and our fellow non-profit organizations on a regular basis - it’s equally if not much more impactful for our public servants to hear from the public. Please take a few moments to call or write to Governor Corbett, your state representative, state senator, and municipal officials and ask them to carry out our three common-sense demands outlined above in order to protect the citizens of Pennsylvania.
Governor Tom Corbett can be contacted by calling 717-787-2500, using this online form, or by mailing:
The Honorable Tom Corbett
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
DEP Secretary Michael Krancer can be reached at 717-783-2300, via email at RAfirstname.lastname@example.org, or by mailing:
Secretary Michael Krancer
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Rachel Carson State Office Building
400 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
We also sent our letter to Michael Wolf, Acting Secretary, Department of Health. He can be reached at 1-877-PA-HEALTH or by mailing:
Acting Secretary Michael Wolf
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Health and Welfare Building
8th Floor West
625 Forster Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120
You may also write a letter to your local paper or notify local media about this issue as well. (If you need help - just let us know! That’s what our Marcellus Citizen Stewardship Project is for. Keep up to date by 'Liking' our MCSP Facebook Page! Email us at email@example.com or call 724-455-4200.)
To learn more about the Mountain Watershed Association Contact:
1. Members Comment on Range Ads on Public Radio
>>>I thought I heard an ad for Range Resources on WESA this morning...could I have been dreaming? I know they have been advertising during Steelers games on TV.
In recent weeks, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company has run advertisements on both radio and TV, and posted billboards advertising a new website. The ads are selling the idea that drilling in the Marcellus Shale is good, and Range is doing it right.
>>>I heard an ad on WESA about "clean-burning natural gas" underwritten by Range Resources today.
>>> My husband and I share exactly all those concerns. I think we should make these statements individually and also as a group or groups.
>>>I am a public radio fanatic - and - I donate to WESA (formally WDUQ) every year - My body reacts to the Range ads every time I hear them. I fear other energy companies may follow suit.
In fact, I'm not happy that their new programming has cut 'Living On Earth' - an incredible, up-to-date, national show on environmental issues (produced in Boston) - from one hour (the actual time of the show, if you get it on pod cast - or live in some other city) to 1/2 hour. The only environmental shows that WESA broadcasts ('Living On Earth' & 'The Allegheny Front') are on too early - on a weekend - to inform a general audience - (7:00 - 8:00 AM Sat. morning.) I have complained about this and have gotten no response.
2. Public Remains Skeptical About Fracking Impact, Even in Drill-Happy Washington County- from Sierra Club, Allegheny
“Despite a multi-million advertising campaign, the gas industry is failing to convince a significant portion of the public that fracking for natural gas is a good thing, despite the economic benefits. A recent survey by a Pittsburgh University group reveals that 29 % of folks in Washington County either Strongly or Somewhat Oppose gas extraction from Marcellus Shale, whereas 46 pct Somewhat or Strongly Support extraction. Asked specifically if gas extraction is a threat to the environment, 58 % in Washington County thought it was a Significant or Moderate Threat.
The picture is a little different when people were asked if the Marcellus Shale represented an economic opportunity; 76 % in Washington County agreed that it was a Moderate or Significant Opportunity. For legislators in Harrisburg and Washington, this appreciation of the economic benefits seems to be balanced by potential public support for stronger safeguards against health risks and environmental degradation.
Perhaps putting local investigative journalists on notice, when people were asked where they get their Marcellus Shale information from, 96 % said newspaper, TV or radio; 65 % said from their neighbors, friends, or relatives; and 52 % replied that they get Marcellus Shale info from the internet.”
3. SUNY Buffalo Shuts Shale Institute To Protect Academic Integrity
A letter from SUNY Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi said that the nail in the coffin for SRSI was what we coined its "shill gas study," the first paper published by SRSI. All of the co-authors of this paper had direct ties to the oil and gas industry, as did four out of five of its peer reviewers.
Tripathi explained his rationale behind slamming the door shut on SRSI, writing,
‘The university upholds academic freedom as a core principle of our institutional mission. With that being said, academic freedom carries with it inherent responsibilities...The May 15, 2012 report...led to allegations questioning whether historical financial interests influenced the authors' conclusions. The fundamental source of controversy revolves around clarity and substantiation of conclusions. Every faculty member has a responsibility to ensure that conclusions in technical reports or papers are unambiguous and supported by the presented data. It is imperative that our faculty members adhere to rigorous standards of academic integrity, intellectual honesty, transparency, and the highest ethical conduct in their work.’
Because of these collective concerns, I have decided to close the Shale Resources and Society Institute."
New Yorkers Against Fracking proclaimed the announcement a "victory for real science over junk science peddled by the gas industry."
4. Faculty Group Stands Up to Marcellus Shale Coalition at Community College of Philadelphia
“The Community College of Philadelphia Coalition for a Sustainable Future publicly opposes shale gas industry inroads at their College. The Coalition declared today, “Instead of promising short-term jobs in a dangerous industry, the Community College of Philadelphia — and all institutions of higher education — should be preparing future workers and leaders for rewarding careers that support a resilient society.”
5. CCP Faculty Reject Marcellus Shale Industry “Deal”
“Faculty of the Community College of Philadelphia were “shocked and appalled” to learn that the college was collaborating with the shale gas industry in establishing an “Energy Training Center.”
Without consulting the faculty, the CCP administration announced — via an email on November 14, just one day before an opening ceremony — that it had entered a partnership with the shale gas industry to provide “career, certificate, and academic programs in the energy field.” Many in the college community learned of the fossil fuel industry connection the following day from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to the article, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, representing the fracking industry, donated $15,000 for student scholarships.
The announcement took everyone by surprise. Faculty — even those teaching courses in related areas — had not been consulted beforehand.
“Normal college procedures for instituting new academic curricula were completely sidestepped,” said Miles Grosbard, RA, head of the Department of Architecture, Design and Construction. “There is no information available about the proposed unit’s mission, student audience, administrative structure, budget, facilities or educational objectives, apparently because none exists. Moreover, $15,000 is an impossibly tiny endowment to even begin a training center.”
Margaret Stephens, a professor of environmental conservation and geography, pointed out, “Of course we are pro-job. We want to prepare our students for safe, fulfilling work in the expanding fields of sustainability, from architecture to sustainable transportation to renewable energy R&D to food production, distribution, and service.”
But CCP faculty say they want no part of an environmentally destructive industry that continues to cause many documented health problems. Across the academic spectrum, informed faculty have come to the inescapable conclusion that there is no safe way to extract “natural” gas via fracking and that the practice makes for a boom-bust short-term economic bubble.
“Perhaps most critical,” Stephens added, “at a time that we are witnessing such catastrophic weather events related to human-induced climate change, it is short-sighted and foolhardy to promote fracking. We now know that shale gas drilling actually accelerates climate change.” Thousands of municipalities nationwide and worldwide have banned or severely curtailed fracking and related heavy-industrial activity. A growing movement among colleges and universities is calling for complete divestment from fossil fuel industries.
CCP’s mission declares, “The College serves Philadelphia by preparing students to be informed and concerned citizens.” Our students need to think critically and understand the full life-cycle costs of fracking, including its public health, environmental and economic harms.
Deirdre Garrity-Benjamin, a professor of environmental conservation and geography and coordinator of the GIS Program, said, “At a time when CCP is hosting discussions about climate change and a sustainable campus, constructing LEED certified buildings and launching a LEED certification program, starting a venture with the Marcellus Shale Coalition is hugely contradictory. As a campus, we have been moving the college toward a path of sustainability by teaching our students the difference between short-term gains and long-term interests. Supporting this type of industry and its polluting extraction methods is completely counterproductive.”
Instead of promising short-term jobs in a dangerous industry, the Community College of Philadelphia — and all institutions of higher education — should be preparing future workers and leaders for rewarding careers that support a resilient society.
Because faculty care about the institution and students to whom they dedicate their working lives, they call upon the Community College of Philadelphia to exclude any fracking-industry related activities in its “Energy Training Center.”
“The college should make itself relevant to the promising future of the 21st century,” said Stephens, “not pay service to an industry that came of age and spent itself in the 20th century.”
For further information or to arrange an interview with a CCP faculty member, please contact Margaret Stephens, 215 751-8869, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To Take Action!!
SUPPORT THE FACULTY AND SIGN THE PETITION
6. DEP says 166 Water Complaints Filed in Tri-County Area
“Over the past two years, from January 2011 through October 2012, there were 166 complaints filed in Fayette, Greene and Washington counties to the DEP by residents who believed their water was contaminated due to oil and gas activity, DEP officials said.
The DEP does not keep a record of how these complaints were resolved or if they were definitely related to oil and gas activity. The DEP also said it couldn’t give a breakdown of the complaints by county although it recently released information that 11 complaints had been filed in Beaver County during the same period.
Characteristics of contaminated water include odor, color and taste problems or changes. Water could also get an orange tint or develop a salty taste or a “chemical odor,” officials said.
Poister said the DEP hasn’t observed a pattern in terms of what areas receive more complaints, though they tend to increase when there is more drilling in the area.”
7. Marcellus Good News and Not so Good News-from Sierra Club, Allegheny group
“The good news is that bromine levels in the Monongahela have decreased significantly, bromine content being a direct marker for disposed fracking wastewater. As reported by Carnegie Mellon researchers, the same was not true for the water in the Allegheny River, suggesting that dumping of untreated frack water is still occurring north of Pittsburgh. The bad news is that there are as many as 200,000 abandoned gas wells in Pennsylvania, and they can provide pathways for methane gas released by fresh drilling to leak to the surface, as happened at a Shell operation in June. Problem is, DEP does not know where all these old wells are.”
8. Australian Scientists find Excess Greenhouse Gas near fracking
“Environmental researchers have detected excess greenhouse gas levels near the site of Australia's biggest coal seam gas field, prompting calls for halting expansion of fracking until scientists can determine whether it might be contributing to climate change.
The reported findings of methane, carbon dioxide and other compounds at more than three times normal background levels have stirred new controversy in eastern Australia over the pros and cons of boosting natural gas output by "fracking.”
At sites within a few miles of the Tara field wellheads, methane was measured as high as 6.89 parts per million, compared with a normal background level of about 2 parts per million, the air test results showed. Some scientists surmise that the excess levels are due to seepage of the gas through displaced soil and aquifers that carry "fugitive" emissions released by fracking a mile or more below ground. Carbon cycle expert Peter Rayner of the University of Melbourne told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that the elevated gas levels were probably due to "emissions that escape from the intended process of production."
Health authorities and opponents of the plans to expand fracking have called on the governments of Queensland and New South Wales to determine greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere in areas slated for new wells, to provide a baseline for comparison with air quality after fracking.
"There are many things we don't know here, but we do know that the results show widespread elevated levels, and it really highlights the need for baseline studies so we can determine whether this is due to the coal seam gas operations or not,'' said Isaac Santos, a geochemist who worked with Maher on the study.
Santos told Australian journalists that the findings showed greenhouse gases at levels even higher than in Russia's massive Siberian gas fields, where environmental protection has been minimal.
Helen Redmond, a physician with the New South Wales chapter of Doctors for the Environment, cited rising complaints of rashes, nausea, headaches and nose bleeds among people living close to the Tara gas fields.
''Hydrocarbon exposure cannot be ruled out as a cause without much more comprehensive investigation,'' she told the Sydney newspaper, which also quoted a New South Wales Health Department official as saying the government agency should be included in public hearings on fracking plans.
Concerns about fracking's consequences for air and water quality have been rising as farmers complain of a dropping water table and piles of debris left behind by the drilling and extraction operations.”
9. NERA, Creator of the “War on Coal” Myth, Is to Publish the Study on Gas Exports
“Reuters has revealed the identity of the mysterious third party contractor tasked to publish the economic impact study on LNG (liquefied natural gas) exports on behalf of the Department of Energy (DOE). Its name: NERA Economic Consulting.
"NERA" is shorthand for National Economic Research Associates, an economic consulting firm SourceWatch identified as the entity that published a June 2011 report on behalf of coal industry front group, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). ACCCE's report concluded, "clean-air rules proposed by the Obama administration would cost utilities $17.8 billion annually and raise electricity rates 11.5 percent on average in 2016."
That report went so far to say that (EPA) regulations of the coal-generated electricity sector would amount to some 1.5 million lost jobs over the next four years.
A NERA report from earlier this year provided the basis for the popular King Coal refrain that the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Rule would cost the U.S. tens of billions of dollars and "kill" 180,000-215,000 jobs. These figures were picked up and cited by climate change denier U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) in June when he spoke out against President Barack Obama's mythological "war on coal," as well as by the Republican Policy Committee in a May policy paper titled, "Obama’s War on Coal."
With a track record like this, it's best to view whatever report the Obama Administration's DOE (aka NERA) produces on the economic impact of LNG exports, set to come out by the end of the year, with extreme skepticism if not downright hostility.”
10. W VA Court Suggests Lawmakers Examine the Rights of Surface Land Owners
“The West Virginia Supreme Court is urging lawmakers to reconsider whether surface landowners in the state should have the right to appeal when oil and gas drilling permits are issued for their land.
The suggestion was included as part of a new court ruling concluding that current state law does not give appeal rights to surface property owners who don't also hold title to oil and gas reserves buried underground.
Justice Margaret Workman, writing for a unanimous court, noted that current laws on drilling permit appeals were written prior to the "extensive development of the Marcellus Shale in this state."
"This court urges the Legislature to re-examine this issue and consider whether surface owners should be afforded an administrative appeal under these circumstances," Workman said in the court's 23-page opinion.
In its ruling last week, the Supreme Court overturned its 2002 decision and said current state statutes do not give surface landowners the right to appeal drilling permits. The court also ruled against the arguments of the West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization, which said surface landowners have constitutional rights to appeal drilling permits.
Dave McMahon, a lawyer for the West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization, noted that the court declined to take up a related issue: whether surface landowners have a constitutional right to a preapproval hearing on drilling permits. McMahon's group argues that landowners do have that right, and that issue could provide a forum for later litigation on the matter.”
11. Drilling Banned in Longmont, Colorado—
State Promises to Overide Local Government
“Longmont became the first town in Colorado to outlaw fracking. The ban has propelled Longmont to the forefront of the nation’s antifracking movement, inspiring other cities to push for similar prohibitions.
But it has also set the city on a collision course with oil companies and the State of Colorado.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, D, has warned Longmont residents that the ban is likely to mean a lawsuit from the state, which insists that only it has the authority to regulate drilling. Already this summer, Colorado sued Longmont over earlier city rules that limit drilling near schools and homes.
Local leaders are also bracing for more lawsuits as they tell energy companies they can no longer frack.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the main lobbying group for the energy industry here, criticized the ban as confrontational and encroaching on the private property of companies that have rights to oil and gas buried deep beneath Longmont’s streets, parks and reservoirs.
“Are the taxpayers of Longmont prepared to provide fair compensation to all of the oil and gas lease holders in Longmont?” said Tisha Schuller, the group’s president.
Supporters of the ban call it a “citizen uprising” against a rush of drilling that has spread like brush fire through towns across the plains of northern Colorado. In nearby Firestone, wells sit within a few hundred feet of libraries, schools and subdivisions. In Greeley, herds of tanker trucks line up at city fire hydrants at dawn to load water for fracking. Earlier this year, a federal scientist reported finding elevated levels of propane and benzene in the air around Erie. City officials and environmental advocates have even led fracking tours of communities where drilling is at its peak.
When people learned of plans to sink wells in Longmont near the Union Reservoir and a playground and recreational area on the east end of town, a response began to coalesce: not here. Supporters said the state’s decision to sue over Longmont’s regulations stiffened their resolve.
At the start, the ban seemed like a doomed idea. The energy industry poured money and resources into fighting it, raising more than $500,000 to send out mailers and buy advertisements saying the ban would drive away businesses and incite expensive court battles. The major newspapers in Denver, Boulder and Longmont all urged voters to reject the proposal.
“I had no idea we could upset an entire state government and a trillion-dollar industry,” said Michael Bellmont, an insurance agent who helped gather thousands of signatures and knocked on doors to persuade voters.
Advocates of the ban focused less on climate change and environmental concerns than on hitting voters where they lived: Do you want oil wells venting near your backyard? Do you want drilling near your schools?
The ban passed 60 percent to 40 percent, with broad bipartisan support.”
12. Industry Targets Dr. Howarth, Cornell U, for Research On Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Drilling
“No one had published any sort of study on what the greenhouse gas emissions from shale gas were,” he says of an energy source that had been widely touted as a clean fuel. “There was nothing, absolutely nothing. … People were perfectly content to have no studies.”
Howarth says he began circulating drafts of his study results in spring 2010, and those early reports showed that methane emissions from the extraction of shale gas were higher than they were from coal. (His ultimate findings were that while shale gas emits less carbon dioxide than coal or oil, when it comes to the much more potent greenhouse gas methane, shale gas has a larger impact than coal, oil or conventional gas.)
But his preliminary findings got distributed more widely than he had intended, resulting in inquiries from the press. In a message posted to his website, he announced that his research was not yet done, but he says his work continued to gain media attention. Howarth says even the White House took notice and directed the Environmental Protection Agency, which hadn’t updated its natural gas studies since 1996, and the U.S. Department of Energy to look into the matter. The EPA released studies showing similar increased gas emissions beginning in November 2010, he says.
His finished paper, co-authored by Cornell colleagues Renee Santoro and Tony Ingraffea, was not published until April 2011.
But it seems that someone got a copy just before the paper came out, judging from a story published in The Hill that described an earlier draft — a draft that a reporter said he got from industry insiders and that Howarth says was only available on his and his two co-authors’ computers. He’s not shy about suggesting that someone in the oil/gas industry stole it.
“That’s the most likely explanation, but I can’t prove it, and it sounds paranoid, right?” Howarth says. “I think they probably hacked into my computer, from the looks of it.”
And he says it didn’t take long for America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) to find people to debunk the research, funding an ad that to this day still shows up as the top sponsored link on Google searches of Howarth’s name.
The industry group’s list of bashers is titled “Howarth: A Credibility Gap.” The subtitle is, “Research on methane emissions from natural gas discredited by scientific community.”
The site claims that Howarth and his co-authors “make inaccurate and extreme choices far outside established science at virtually every turn. The result is a report that misleads the public about important facts involving natural gas production.” Among the more than 10 individuals and institutions cited by ANGA is one of Howarth’s own Cornell colleagues, Lawrence Cathles, who is quoted with his team as saying that Howarth and his coauthors “assume implausibly high leakage rates and fail to provide any clear evidence of methane leakage from shale gas wells during completion, or from all gas wells during handling, transmission, storage, and delivery of the gas, that would significantly increase the greenhouse impact of simply burning the methane. Moreover, they dismiss the impact of existing technology for reducing whatever emissions are now problematic.”
Howarth describes Cathles as a former oil/gas employee who doesn’t believe in climate change.
“The quality of the data is terrible because industry is very secretive and not very honest,” Howarth says.
Time magazine named him and co-author Ingraffea, along with actor Mark Ruffalo, among the “50 Others That Mattered” in the publication’s “Person of the Year” issue.
But there have been consequences associated with his controversial findings. Howarth says that in addition to the ANGA critics, he saw a significant decrease in the number of graduate students who applied to study with him, for one thing.
“Industry is framing the debate by having that ad float out there,” he says. “So if you want to compare what’s happened to me with Thyne, I’m in a helluva lot better position, I’m hugely protected. I have highly respectful colleagues. I’ve had a huge number of scientists I’ve never met before who have contacted me, and we’re now working together towards increasing the quality of the science in this area. There’s a lot of positive stuff, but I’ve also come under a huge amount of attack, personal attack and professional attack, and it definitely colors how non-scientists see me or approach me.”
For instance, last spring, he says he was approached by a contractor for National Geographic about helping the magazine pull together the information on a graphic for an article. He says he provided a summary of where methane comes from globally, including both natural and human sources.
Earlier this month, he learned via a third party that the contractor had been told by an editor at National Geographic that “they perhaps should not use my work,” Howarth says, because the editor had heard from ANGA that his research had been “discredited.”
“I am still in discussions with the contractor and others at National Geographic, so I do not know how this will resolve,” he says, “but if they end up truly not using my work, I would think it newsworthy that an industry PR and lobbying group has that level of influence.”
And when asked whether his university superiors have pressured him because of the blowback?
“They wouldn’t, because it would be pointless, but they haven’t,” he says, citing his full professor status, endowed chair, tenure and continued funding, including grants from Cornell. “I’m certainly not being undercut by the university, and I’m probably receiving good support, I’d say. … I would be really surprised if industry has not spoken to some administrator here, I’d be very surprised, but no one’s told me that, and certainly I haven’t felt any of that pressure. I’d be surprised if it’s not there, but I’m buffered from it, and the structure of the university should buffer me from it. If there is pressure, the system is working as it should.”
Blowdowns occurred frequently at this gas facility near Hickory, Pa.
Photo by Bob Donna
13. Gas Discharge Startles Neighbors in Monroe Twp.
“Elizabeth Ide said her husband rousted her out of bed but not to go after post-Thanksgiving sales. There was a loud noise that apparently came from a nearby gas dehydration facility, and it went on for more than 30 minutes, she said. Chief Dodson acknowledged he heard the loud noise, saying it was akin to a freight train going by or large plane landing, and it was emanating from something being spewed in the air 50 to 100 feet.
People near Frances Slocum State Park, 5 miles away, apparently heard it and numerous residents from both Dallas Twp., Luzerne County, and Monroe Twp., Wyoming County, were alarmed, Chief Dodson said. Ed Senavaitis, safety and regulatory compliance manager for PVR Partners, based in Williamsport, said a safety device at the Chapin facility operated as intended. He said he had no idea about the volume of material that dissipated into the atmosphere. Chief Dodson and Mr. Senavaitis both confirmed that at no time was anyone in danger.”
Commentary from Bob:
“At no time was anyone in danger.” Really? That statement counters what we have been told at the ‘ONE CALL’ pipeline seminars for those who dig in the Pittsburgh area.
Various hydrocarbon vapors are heavier than air and accumulate in low spots, or can travel underground, so the danger can be tremendous. Deadly hydrogen sulfide can also be a factor in pipeline hydrocarbons. It is worrisome to think that some gathering pipelines from well pads are not recorded in the ONE CALL (811) system, so an excavator may not even know one is there, even after following the proper protocol.”
14. PA Gives Billions to Companies, Gets little Back, Studies Say
PublicSource | Nov. 8, 2012 Leah Samuel (excerpt)
The Horsehead Corp.'s zinc smelting plant on the Ohio River. The site may be the location for a new ethylene cracker plant to be built by Shell Oil Co. (Photo by Richard Kelly)
A new company comes to Pennsylvania, adds 250 jobs and keeps the personal income taxes taken out of workers’ paychecks instead of handing them over to the state.
That’s the economic incentive deal recently approved in Harrisburg for companies that come to Pennsylvania. It’s one that several groups here say is unnecessary.
“The great thing about this initiative is that its performance based,” said Kelli Roberts, a spokeswoman for Gov. Tom Corbett. “A company cannot get it unless it adds the jobs.”
But David N. Taylor, executive director of the pro-business Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, called the effort a "gimmick."
“Pennsylvania has a longstanding over-reliance on government-controlled, taxpayer-funded programs,” he added, and this one won’t help businesses as much as politicians say it will.
Even before this incentive, three groups that follow state tax perks agreed that Pennsylvania already gives away too much, with too little oversight and too few standards.
In Pennsylvania, the studies say, the results are:
· Not enough to show for the billions of dollars the state gives away to lure corporations;
· Little accountability because no one looks at the results of state tax incentives; and
· Heavy taxes on individuals and businesses to fund large corporate tax giveaways.
Good Jobs First, a non-profit economic-development research group, was interested in how tax breaks benefited potential employees. A study released late last year examined five of Pennsylvania’s most costly tax-incentive programs.
The state received a D overall.
The Keystone Opportunity Zone program — among those used most recently to lure Shell Oil Co. to build a cracker plant in Monaca — was the biggest failure, according to the report, scoring zero out of 100 possible points.
Meanwhile, a study by the Pew Center on the States released in April, examined how well states evaluated their own tax incentives.
Pew determined that in Pennsylvania, no standards had been set for companies getting tax breaks that could be used as a yardstick.”
15. Dealing with Pipeline Emergencies
(Source: US DOT --from bob)
Recognizing and Responding to Natural Gas Emergencies in Your Home or Workplace:
· Start an engine of any kind;
· Strike matches or create a flame of any kind;
· Use a telephone or cell phone (these can ignite airborne gases);
· Turn on or off any light switches, garage door openers or other electrical switches (these also can ignite airborne gases).
· Make sure gas appliances are turned all the way OFF;
· Leave the area;
· Telephone 911 from a neighbor's house or other location well away from the gas leak;
· Explain the situation;
· Warn others -- if it is safe to do so -- against entering the leak area and/or creating ignition sparks.
Recognizing Emergencies Near a Pipeline Right-of-Way:
Remember that pipelines carry both gases and hazardous liquids. Along a right-of-way, you may see dead or discolored vegetation, pooled liquid; or a cloud of vapor or mist. You may smell an unusual odor, or the scent of petroleum or odorized natural gas. And you may hear an unusual hissing or roaring sound.
If you suspect a pipeline leak has occurred:
· Touch, breathe or make contact with leaking liquids
· Start an engine of any kind
· Strike matches or create a flame of any kind
· Use a telephone or cell phone (these can ignite airborne gases)
· Turn on or off any electrical switches (these also can ignite airborne gases)
· Drive into a leak or vapor cloud area
· Make sure gas appliances are turned all the way OFF
· Leave the area
· Telephone 911 from a neighbor's house or other location well away from the gas leak
· Explain the situation
· Warn others -- if it is safe to do so -- against entering the leak area and/or creating
16. Rail Out Facilities-from Bob
“Annoyance and concerns about widespread gas production can range from basic issues to worst case scenarios… those living near liquid gas operations and shipments can be concerned about both.
Consider this, shipments of propane are leaving the huge MarkWest facility near Houston, Pa on a regular basis, by truck and now by rail. At the Westland, PA meeting (next to the plant) many moons ago, MarkWest representatives were describing the future of this rail-out facility. They said it would begin with shipments of 50 railcars per day, eventually reaching 200 railcars per day.”
Mark West Facility
Photo by Bob Donnan
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s Group-
- 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