Saturday, December 22, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
December 21, 2012
This Christmas season I wish peace to those who have become overwhelmed with the stress of the ups and downs of fighting a ruthless industry, especially for those who have borne personal attacks due to their efforts to provide a healthy and safe community for their families, and I wish that all of you who have devoted so much of your personal time to this issue are surrounded by your loved ones and much joy this Christmas season. Merry Christmas- Happy Holidays, to all!! Jan
* 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:
*** Westmoreland County Commissioners Meeting- 2nd and 4thThursday of the month at the Westmoreland County Courthouse at 10:00 AM.
***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
Frack Links
***From Theo Colborn:
Dear friends and colleagues,
I recently gave a presentation at a TEDxMidAtlantic event in Washington DC in which I read a letter I sent to the President and First Lady of the United States. In this letter I remind them of the current epidemics of endocrine-related disorders and describe how the laws that were supposed to protect us have let us down. I close with two practical suggestions for the President to take action.
Please take a minute (actually 16 minutes) to view this, and if you agree, share it with everyone you know.
You can also copy the link and paste it in a message directly to the President here:
Best wishes for a safe and healthy holiday season,
Dr. Theo Colborn
*** New and Better Frac Mapper
A new mapping utility for website visitors who want an easy-to-use point and click tool – what we are affectionately calling FracMapper.
***List of the Harmed
The following is an ever-growing list of the individuals and families
that have been harmed by fracking (or shale gas production) in the U.S.
Should you encounter any issues (misinformation, broken links, etc.) or if you are/know someone who should be added to this list, please contact us at (
*** Report – Gas Patch Roulette
How Shale Gas Development Risks Public Health in PA
*** Sky Truth-Sign up for reports on gas activity in your area
Sign up to receive reports on the geographic area you select. You will receive regular updates on permits issues, well spud, and violations in your area.
*** 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.”
*** 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.
***GASP Releases Citizen Handbook for Commenting on Marcellus Air Permits
For a full calendar of area events please see“Marcellus Protest” calendar:
Take Action !!
**Penn State Conducting Online Survey About Pennsylvania's Water Resources
This is your chance to be heard on the value and importance of water resources in Pennsylvania!
Researchers from Penn State along with several other agencies are conducting an online survey of Pennsylvania residents about the state's water resources. The object is to collect opinions from a large number of Pennsylvania residents on the current status of our water and how to prioritize funding and other resources to best protect and manage our water resources. This informal survey is intended as a public engagement project and does not necessarily represent a statistical sampling of opinions.
The five-minute survey can be completed online at:
The survey will remain open until February 28, 2013 and a summary of results will be published on the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center website in Spring 2013 at:
This survey is funded by the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center and Sea Grant Pennsylvania in partnership with Penn State Extension and the Pennsylvania American Water Resources Association.--
Christie Sebek
Westmoreland Conservation District
Donohoe Center
Phone: 724-837-5271
***Contact Governor Cuomo
Urge Governor Cuomo to release the public health review and allow public comment. Tell him he needs to keep his promise to allow the science to determine whether New York moves forward with fracking.
Frack News
1. Marcellus Shale Gas Now Accounts for 26% of All U.S. Gas
The Marcellus region produced 6.8 billion cubic feet of gas per day in October, an increase of 72% from the same time a year ago.
(Pittsburgh Post Gazette, bill toland, 12-1-12)
(And that production was completed with local zoning laws in place in many areas of SW PA—the zoning laws the industry descried as hampering their development. Jan)
2. Some Conservation Groups Debate Drilling
“Sitting down with people in the gas industry makes sense said Mark Brownstein, the chief counsel for the energy program at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). “If we simply sit and protest we’re missing an opportunity” to create stronger regulations.”
Audubon has said they are not rejecting the idea of drilling.
“If a company came to us and said we’ve developed a process that does not use any chemicals, we would probably almost feel obliged to consider that, if only to help demonstrate a best practice could be developed,”Bonner said.
John Eichinger, president of Ruffed Grouse Society, hopes the discussions with the industry will lead to some changes. He thinks the Marcellus Shale Coalition may support some of the suggestions that conservation groups made for stricter regulations.”
(conservation groups debate gas drilling ties, begos, Latrobe Bulletin, 11-24-12)
( Mr. Bonner of Audubon appears to have no understanding of the broader impacts of drilling beyond chemicals contained in frack fluids. Perhaps he is unaware of air pollution from compressor stations and other gas operations, problems with pipelines, pollution from the naturally occurring chemicals/radioactivity brought up from deep within the earth during flowback, drill cuttings, etc. People who are responsible for formulating policy within these organizations should be better informed.
Meanwhile, Kevin Begos ignored any coverage in the article of the many groups in the state that have fought for either bans or strict regulation of fracking. jan)
3. Drillers Plan to Move Wastewater on River Barges
“The Coast Guard will make the decision that will affect 3 rivers and 12,000 miles of waterways.
“A barge accident would be a massive catastrophe” said Steve Hvozdovich, of Clean Water Action. “You’re talking about the contamination of the drinking water supply for about half a million people…It seems like a very bad idea”
Industry officials argue that other industrial chemicals, some toxic, are presently moved on barges including chlorine, hydrochloric acid and anhydrous ammonia.
Depending on the well, 15-80% of what was injected returns to the surface—called flowback. Then the well continues to regurgitate naturally occurring water from inside the shale –called produced water. Both liquids become wastewater-called brine.
The Coast Guard s is concerned about what they call a bathtub ring effect in the barges. Radioactive particles in the wastewater may accumulate inside the barge. Workers on the barges could be at risk after long-term exposure. The Coast Guard may require regular testing of the barges for radioactivity.
Green Hunter, the company which moves wastewater for some of the largest drilling companies, planned to start using barges in December because they thought it was permitted, and defended the use of barges saying it would reduce trucking hours and produce less air pollution than trucks.
Trucks would still be needed to get the wastewater from the drill rigs to the barges.
CMDR Roldan of the Coast Guard, noted that current regulations are confusing but said, “No they’re not allowed. You may want to tell them before we catch them.”
In PA, about 23 million barrels of wastewater were produced in 2011.
Benjamin Stout, a biology professor at Wheeling Jesuit U. and board member of Frack Tracker, commented, “A lot of things could go wrong. For example wastewater contains bromides which transform into carcinogens when they are pumped through water treatment facilities. If there was a barge accident, the treatment faculties would have to shut their intake valves of river water.”
(shale drillers want to move wastewater on barges, emily demarco, post gazette, 12-16-12)
4. Former Mobil Oil Executive, Doctors, and Scientists Urge Obama To Wait on Exports Plan
(excerpts from article)
“The US may become a major exporter of gas.
A former high-ranking Mobile Oil executive has joined more than 100 scientific and medical professionals in urging the Obama administration to not approve several proposed liquefied natural gas exporting facilities.
The development of the massive natural gas export facilities would require a "rapid increase" in fracking operations, which have been linked to water, air and soil pollution as well as health problems in communities near the drilling rigs, according to a petition filed with the White House last week by Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Health Energy (PSE).
The scientists and medical professionals warn against creating international demand for gas, without first conducting widespread environmental and health impact studies to ensure the American public is safe.
"The question here is very simple. Why would the US dramatically increase the use of an energy extraction method without first ensuring that the trade-off is not the health of Americans in exchange for the energy demands of foreign nations?" said Seth B. Shonkoff, PSE director and environmental researcher at the University of California at Berkeley.
The rapid expansion of fracking produced a gas glut in the US, and last spring gas prices fell to the lowest level in a decade. Prices remain much higher in other countries, and firms are eager to sell American gas in foreign markets.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is currently reviewing applications for 15 additional export facilities proposed for coastlines across the country, and four additional proposals have yet to reach the DOE docket.
Together, these 19 facilities would export a combined total of 28.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day, more than a third of what is currently consumed in the US. Applications could be approved as early as January 2013.
The construction of even a few of these export facilities would dramatically increase demand for domestic gas production and could make the US one of the largest gas exporters in the world.
PSE claims the export facilities would put increased economic pressure on the industry to expand fracking in rural areas already hit hard by development and into new areas, like New York state, where temporary bans on fracking have allowed regulators and policy makers to take a much more cautious approach toward drilling than Pennsylvania and Ohio, where officials threw open their doors to the industry.
Louis Allstadt, the former executive vice president of Mobil Oil who signed the petition opposing new export facilities, said unconventional fracking is like traditional drilling "on steroids."
"All of this requires far greater industrial activity at the well site compared to conventional drilling, and that provides greater opportunity for methane gas and volatile compounds to enter the atmosphere, and well as opportunities for water laden with chemicals to enter drinking water supplies," Allstadt said. "It is new enough that we know little about the health impacts of the process for the people who live nearby, or for those whose drinking water and air quality might be affected."
"I think it has moved really fast and before people really got a good handle on the technology," Allstadt said when asked by Truthout why a former oil executive would counter the industry's repeated claim that unconventional fracking is safe.
"I'm not the only who has been associated with the industry who has concerns," Allstadt said.
"Researchers are finding measurable levels of pollutants from this industry in air and water that are associated with the risk of illness," said Adam Law, a PSE member and physician at the Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, New York. "The first studies to describe this are entering the scientific literature, and public health researchers are embarking on multiple approaches to study the associated adverse health effects."
Fracking is common in medically underserved areas, he said, and rural communities do not stand to benefit directly or indirectly from expanding international export markets.
"In fact, for them, natural gas prices will only go up, and they will be left living with not only the stresses of the industrialization on their rural communities, but also with the legitimate concern that they will have to pay the price with their own physical health," Law said.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration released a study showing that the economic benefits of exporting large quantities of natural gas far outweigh concerns that American consumers and industry would be left to pay more for natural gas as the domestic surplus from fracking goes overseas. The study claims that new export terminals would spur more drilling, create thousands of construction jobs and generate $47 billion in economic activity in 2020 alone.
The report quickly caught criticism from both environmentalists and domestic industries that rely on cheap natural gas.
Dow Chemical, which relies on natural gas for a list of industrial processes, expressed concerned about gas prices for domestic industry. Environmentalists, however, see much deeper costs for the American people and their environment.
"The law requires the DOE to determine if more natural gas exports are in the public interest – so it is baffling that this report omits the serious threats increased fracking and gas production pose to our water, our air and the health of our families," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. "Increased gas exports are expected to result in higher gas prices and lower wages for American families, meaning we pay the price here while the companies shipping gas overseas rake in the profits."
Reports suggest the Obama administration is not opposed to expanding exports despite pushback from environmentalists, some Democrats in Congress and politicians with ties to domestic industries. How many, if any, of the terminals will be approved remains to be seen.”
5. Consol Will Drill at Pittsburgh Airport
EQT bid $44 million and Consol bid $20.8 million but also included a $2.1 million check as a deposit. Consol’s bid was called the best value by Airport Authority direction Bradley Penrod.
(Citizens had protested drilling at the Airport.)
( sorry Bob -photos aren't copying)
photo by bob donnan
6. Turning the Family Farm into a Superfund Site-from bob
What might this frack pit contain?
Answer: Sodium and calcium salts, barium, oil, strontium, iron, numerous heavy metals, soap, radium and other toxic components- water soluble Radium 226 (Ra226) and Radium 228 (Ra228).
"Many of the chemicals found in drilling and evaporation pits are considered hazardous wastes by the Superfund Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Upon closure, every pit has the potential to become a superfund site."
7. Tribal Resolution Passed Against Sand Mining
The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature passed a Resolution that the Ho-Chunk Nation will address anti-sand mining around or near Tribal lands, on the local, state and national level with all of their legal, political, and financial resources
There are tribal lands in 14 Counties including Eau Claire County. This is the beginning of a bigger stand against frac sand mining activities. A copy of the resolution is also being sent to friends from other Wisconsin tribes who are in positions to influence their tribal governments to do the same.”
8. Lawsuit By Newspapers For Sealed Records Being Considered
“For more than a year, the Observer-Reporter and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have been fighting to gain access to a sealed legal settlement between the Hallowich family and a group of gas drilling companies. “I am painfully aware of this case,” said (Judge)O’Dell Seneca, adding she had familiarized herself with the case knowing it was headed back to the county court from the state Superior Court, which found former Judge Paul Pozonsky had erred when he denied the newspapers a chance to at least present their arguments for unsealing of the legal settlement. “My understanding is that everything should be open,” she said. “I don’t understand what happened here.”
In the meantime, O’Dell Seneca asked the attorneys to discuss exactly what portion of the settlement is at issue and possibly reach an agreement in the matter before returning for the hearing. The gas drilling companies, however, have until Jan. 7 to appeal the Superior Court’s ruling. The Hallowiches had claimed that nearby drilling operations, a compressor station and a gas processing plant made their property worthless and posed health risks to their family. Their lawsuit was settled Aug. 23, 2011, following a closed-door meeting in Pozonsky’s chambers. The case file was immediately sealed, and all parties were forbidden to discuss any portion of the agreement.”
Complete story:
(Judge Pozonsky was involved in the recent scandal in Washington County.Washington County Common Pleas President Judge Debbie O‘Dell Seneca reassigned Pozonsky to preside over civil court cases after Pozonsky ordered the destruction of evidence — including personal items and money — in 16 drug cases from 1998 to 2011.
Pozonsky vacated the destruction order after prosecutors pointed out that defendants had due process rights regarding their property, but the evidence had been destroyed.” Jan)
Read more:
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook
9. Former Fayette Educator Jailed for Engaging Gas Employees
From Shale Reporter:
“Joe Bezjak was arrested on Friday and thrown in Fayette County jail over the weekend after he caught Williams Mountain Midstream workers dumping mine water on his cow pasture and confronted them. That's right, the property owner being wronged was the one arrested while those doing the illegal dumping walked free. Justice in Corporate America.”
Joe Bezjak of Nicolson Township speaks with reporters following his release from Fayette County Prison on Monday morning. Bezjak, 73, was jailed after violating a court order to not engage contractors with Laurel Mountain Midstream who are installing a 16-inch pipeline on his property. :
Posted on December 17, 2012
“Joe Bezjak said when he traveled to Uniontown Friday for a hearing regarding an apparent violation of a court order; he never expected to go to jail.
But that is exactly where the 73-year-old Nicholson Township man spent the weekend, for speaking to employees of a gas pipeline company working on Bezjak's own farm against the court's direction.
“I was told by Judge (Nancy D.) Vernon that I wasn't allowed to speak to them, even though they were working on my property and even though I saw them doing things that were wrong. I talked to them, so I went to jail,”Bezjak said this morning, after he was released from Fayette County Prison at 9 a.m.
Bezjak, who worked as an educator in Fayette County for nearly four decades, said that his problems with Laurel Mountain Midstream of Williams Companies LLC began in the spring when he signed a contract with them to allow a pipeline to be placed on his 700-acre farm.”
From Shale Reporter: Farmer jailed for defending his property
"NICHOLSON TWP. -- The Headley and Bezjak families say are regretting
their decisions to allow a new natural gas pipeline to cross their
properties. David Headley and his wife, Diane, own a 115-acre farm on Volick Road.
They sold the right-of-way for an existing gas line, but they hadn't bargained for another gas line that is planned for their property.
When the pipeline's pathway poised to cross Georges Creek, Headley
contacted the state Department of Environmental Protection after
drilling left a bentonite spill.
Joe Bezjak of Smithfield-New Geneva Road said his herd of about 180
head of black Angus cattle was harmed after gas drillers tore down a
fence that separated the two herds. Without the fence, the cattle
inter-breeded. "That ruined the herd -- more than 40 years worth of work down the drain," Bezjak said. "They practically ruined my entire breeding
stock." The pipeline is owned and operated by Williams Laurel Mountain
Midstream, which has its regional headquarters in Moon Township and
its corporate headquarters in Tulsa, Okla. The new pipeline's fate is far from certain."
10. Colorado Oil/Gas Industry Sues to Kill Longmont Fracking Ban
“The oil and gas industry is suing Longmont to kill voters' recent ban on fracking within city limits.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) contends the ban is illegal because it denies mineral owners the right to develop their property and blocks operations that state laws allow.
COGA has asked Weld County district court to invalidate the resolution passed by Longmont voters.
Longmont leaders vowed to fight back.
"We will vigorously defend our charter and the will of the people," City Council woman Katie Witt said.
The voters on Nov. 6 changed the city charter to prohibit fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, and the storage of fracking waste in the city. Colorado residents elsewhere along the Front Range also are pushing to ban oil and gas operations inside municipal limits. Local governments face intensifying pressures as drilling expands close to communities. They've tried to respond to constituents by toughening health and safety regulations that could withstand legal challenges.
However, when Longmont's council passed tougher regulations this year, Gov. John Hickenlooper directed state attorneys to sue the city, challenging local authority.
"The governor believes Longmont's fracking ban violates the law and we aren't surprised that the city has been sued," the governor's spokesman, Eric Brown, said.
State lawmakers have established the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to simultaneously regulate and promote development of oil and gas resources. COGA's lawsuit aims to set a precedent.
Hickenlooper on Dec. 6 said the state will not sue Longmont again over the action of voters but that it will support any lawsuit by companies.”
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content:
11. From the White Paper: The Global Anti- Fracking Movement What it Wants , How it Operates, and What’s Next
A quote noted by Debbie:
"The O&G industry has repeatedly been caught off guard by the sophistication, speed, and influence of anti-fracking activists"
(Way to go fractivists! Jan)
12. Angry Protests by Colorado Citizens
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – “This used to be a land proud of its oil barons. Now the energy industry that has brought wealth and jobs across the interior West is prompting angry protests by citizens sporting gas masks and using bullhorns at public hearings.
Gas-mask-wearing protesters are confronting city and county officials considering whether to limit or ban hydraulic fracturing
The protests in Colorado have gotten intense. At hearings across the state, shouting opponents harass oil and gas representatives. Even Colorado's governor, a Democrat and former geologist who says fracking is safe, has been mobbed by protesters. Leaving a suburban Denver meeting about drilling earlier this fall, Gov. John Hickenlooper ducked into an SUV and pulled away as a crowd of protesters, some of them children, chanted, "Dirty water, dirty air, we get sick and you don't care!"
Opposition to fracking has also surfaced in Idaho, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has probed whether the procedure may be responsible for groundwater contamination near the Wyoming town of Pavillion.”
Read more:
13. Industry Puts Out Talking Points Against Matt Damon Film
“The new Matt Damon film, Promised Land, directed by Gus Van Sant, stars Damon as a gas company salesman who travels the dying towns of the American heartland, buying up drilling rights from struggling farmers. It is due for a limited release on 28 December, with a wider run in January.
The lobby group, Energy in Depth, has put out a "cheat sheet" of pro-fracking talking points to counter any bad publicity that may arise following the release of the film, which also stars John Krasinski and Frances McDormand, is the first Hollywood treatment of one of the most contentious issues in rural America: the boom in natural-gas production that has been unlocked by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.
In the film, any reservations Damon's character might have about his job catch up with him in Pennsylvania, where a high-school teacher and an environmental activist, played by Krasinski, try to persuade the town that allowing fracking will poison their water and kill their livestock.”
Photos by bob donnan (sorry, I can't transfer images from Mac)
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s 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
Hope has two daughters, anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. St. Augustine