Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jan's Updates Jan. 10, 2013

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates January 10, 2013
To receive our news updates, please email jan at
* 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:
Calendar of Events
***County Commissioners Meeting- 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the county courthouse at 10:00
*** Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group Steering Committee Meeting
Wednesday night, January 16, 7:30 Get involved-Show Support. Contact Jan for details.
***Promised Land at Local Theaters-A Note from LAWPA group Member
John and I leafleted this evening at The Oaks and saw Promised Land.
The industry has good reason to be worried about this movie. It is a movie about power and deception, personal and corporate. It is the story the industry does not want told. People seemed sincerely appreciative of two people standing in the cold and handing out material – not sure why but it was different from other leafleting -almost as if people welcomed some person-to-person connection with the issue. Things are changing. A human presence might actually count for more than the industry’s expensive ads on the screen.
For a full calendar of area events please see “Marcellus Protest” calendar:
***Sign the Petition
Tell NPR to stop advertising for fracking Industry
NPR To Lose Supporters—Ads Promote Fracking
Why Some Public Radio Supporters Won't Be Donating to NPR This Year
For more than 20 years, Dennis Higgins of Otego, NY has donated to NPR. Last year he gave about $500. But this year, he was uneasy after hearing NPR continuously plug the American Natural Gas Alliance, a fracking advocacy organization.
“NPR has a little plug,” Higgins said. “Something like: ‘To our supporter ANGA and their commitment to the environment and jobs in the United States.’”
Higgins is an assistant professor of computer science and mathematics at SUNY Oneonta. He wouldn’t call himself an environmental activist, but his area is at risk of being affected by fracking, so he and his wife stay up-to-date on the issue. They went to all the town board meetings to establish a moratorium in his county, motivated, they say, by their love for the natural beauty of the region as well as their family.
“I have a family. I have young children. …We have a farm. We have horses and cows and chickens. And I’m thinking, my kids have to drink this water, my animals have to drink this water. So we’re looking at it like that.”
Higgins contacted NPR’s ombudsman and a number of shows about their plugs for ANGA, but got no response.
“It was pretty frustrating,” he said.
So Higgins decided he wasn’t going to donate to NPR this year, and that he was going to encourage others to pledge to do the same. He started two online petitions calling on NPR’s CEO Gary Knell to eliminate NPR’s ANGA plugs.
Higgins wrote in the description of one petition:
Certainly, NPR should not be promoting the gas industry's commitment to jobs and the environment. I wrote our local affiliate when I withheld my yearly contribution and got no response. I wrote NPR and got no response. I guess my contribution is not as important to them as ANGA's. Will you stand with me and withhold your contribution to NPR until they pull the ads touting ANGA's commitment to our environment?
Currently, Higgins has more than 600 signatures on his main petition, which hosts a flurry of comments expressing similar frustrations with NPR’s plugs. Melanie Maroney of McDonough, NY wrote, “Hearing these ads on NPR sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. My tax dollars support NPR, thus these promotions are out-of-line.”
Joanne Cipolla-Dennis of New York wrote:
Since NPR gets SO much $$ from ANGA I haven’t sent in any money. And I don’t plan to. I am VERY dismayed that NPR feels it necessary to allow and encourage the number-one industry creating the climate change destruction all over the planet to continue to spew its sinful spin. People who listen to NPR are educated people and when we hear those AGNA commercials we all quickly turn the volume down so we aren’t sickened by the crap, and frankly I got tired of hearing it and listen less and less to NPR — getting information in other places that don’t take such a welcoming stance on this industry.
But not everyone who tunes in to NPR will be educated on the harms of fracking, which is why Higgins and others are especially disappointed with the ANGA plugs. “You have their listeners listening to these plugs for natural gas and then maybe thinking ‘Oh, NPR’s supporting drilling,’” Higgins said.
For the entire article:
***Protect State Game Lands in Lawrence County
Sign the Petition
Please help protect our state game lands by signing the petition at the
following link.
I will be presenting this petition to the PA Game Commission on January 27th during the public comment period. We would greatly appreciate your help in promoting this petition by forwarding it to as many contacts as possible. It has been our experience that even people who know very little about fracking, do not want to see their favorite hunting grounds disturbed by this industry, so please forward to
any hunting enthusiasts as well.
Pennsylvania Game Commission, we call upon you, as public servants sworn to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution, to oppose the proposed oil and gas lease of State Game Lands #150, Tract 150A-12 containing approximately 586.007 acres, located in Pulaski Township, Lawrence County, PA. Portions of State Game land #150 are located within 1000 feet of the Pulaski Elementary School and are also within a 100 year flood zone.
The controversial method of drilling for natural gas that has been tied to
groundwater contamination across the U.S and around the world. Gas drilling in the Marcellus and Utica Shale has become one of the greatest threats to
Pennsylvania's environment and public health in decades, including:
* Contaminating drinking water supplies
* Destroying the public lands of the Commonwealth and
* Increasing air pollution
Carrie Hahn
***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
*** Huffington Post Wants To Hear from Those Who Leased-Please Share
This is a one-time email to our readers in Pennsylvania.
With the recent release of the movie "Promised Land," we're interested in hearing from people who made a decision, several years ago, about leasing their land for the purposes of drilling.
Did you sign a lease in the last ten years to allow fracking on your land? Or, alternatively, did you decide not to sign one?
We want to hear your thoughts. How do you feel about your decision now? Would you make a different choice if you could do it again?
Also, if you've seen "Promised Land," we're curious to hear what you thought about it -- and how it compared to your own experiences with the fracking boom.
Thanks for your help,
The HuffPost Open Reporting Team
***Environmental Working Group Urges Consumers to Register Complaints About Fracking Near Their Homes
Several months ago we asked you to sign onto an organizational letter asking regulators to address the implications of deceptive oil and gas leasing practices on property values and mortgages. I want to update you on our efforts to seek greater protection for homeowners.
Last month, Environmental Working Group led a group of experts to meet with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Housing Finance Administration, which oversees Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks. We presented the risks associated with fracking and the impacts deceptive leases may have on homes’ resale values, people's mortgages and investments in the lending market.
It’s clear from the meetings that we have more work to do to ensure that regulators understand the magnitude of these issues and take action accordingly.
That is why we are urging you and your supporters to share your complaints and experiences about fracking near your homes. Has fracking damaged your property? Harmed efforts to resell your homes? Have you had trouble renewing your insurance policies after signing oil and gas leases or have you experienced related problems with your mortgages? Are there cases where drillers have withheld or lied about the risks of fracking when asking you to sign leases? Do you have copies of leases you can share with personal information redacted?
If you or anyone you know has stories or leases they are willing to share, please send them to We will use your stories in future advocacy work to underscore the need for greater consumer protection.
We also encourage you to send formal complaints about deceptive oil and gas leasing practices to the Federal Trade Commission and to your state attorney general’s office (contact information below). It is critical that they hear from you! Please send a copy of any complaints to
Thank you again for your help raising awareness about these issues. We look forward to hearing your stories.
Thomas Cluderay
EWG Assistant General Counsel
Agency Contacts to Complain about Deceptive Oil and Gas Leasing Practices:
Federal Trade Commission:
Pennsylvania AG:
Alex Rindler
Policy Associate
Environmental Working Group
1436 U St. NW, Suite 100
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 939-9151
***Amy Goodman, Democracy Now-- Piece on Fracking
Read the article or watch the video
***In New York 550 Officials Vow to Protect the State from fracking
-They ask for comprehensive environmental and health assessments.
-Babies born near frack sites are smaller and have lower apgar scores.
15 min video
***Earth Song Video-Michael Jackson
About the environment in general. (Beautiful song. I love this one. Jan)
***A new documentary series "From The Frontlines" to soon be aired on LinkTV and FSTV
From the FrontlinesCarol French, Dairy Farmer, Bradford County
A few points from her discussion:
Water problems, rashes in both humans and cows. Her daughter is sick and the hospital could not diagnose her problem.
An area home was worth $395,000- now $39,000 due to loss of water.
French asks what is your child’s health worth?
***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 .
***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
Fracking News
1. Promised Land Prompts $30,000 in Ads Rebutting the Movie
“Get the Facts” is a commercial produced by the PA-based Marcellus Shale Gas Coalition. Their ad will run in theaters showing Promised Land in larger population centers throughout PA before the film. It is a $30K ad buy.
Colorado Residents Fight For Clean Air and Water
2. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Considers Drilling Regs
“Presently the setback to drill for oil or gas in Colorado is 350 feet from a home or school; in rural areas, it’s 150 feet. That setback could soon expand to 500 feet under proposed new rules the state could finalize next week.
The rules would also:
* Allow oil and gas drilling within 1,000 feet of schools, nursing homes and hospitals only if a public hearing is conducted
* Possibly require energy companies to capture gases being emitted from wells to reduce odors and air emissions
* Require groundwater sampling near oil and gas drilling sites before and after drilling to monitor drinking water aquifers for contamination
The commission will deliberate the rules during a three-day hearing beginning Monday in Denver.
3. Rules Are
Just a Camouflage Argue Residents
The Colorado Oil and gas commission is considering requiring operators to use pit-less drilling, steel berms and underground liners, and to employ strict dust and lighting controls. The new rules might also mandate that operators sample water wells near work sites both before and after drilling.
Doug Flanders, a spokesman for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said the industry would prefer to see setbacks between wells and occupied structures be 350 feet across the board.
Brueske, a resident, said the new setbacks are insufficient to protect public health and aren't grounded in science. "(The commission) is pulling distances out of the blue sky -- they're not using any science behind it," he said. "They're trying to pacify the public."
Cliff Willmeng, co-founder of anti-fracking group East Boulder County United stated, "The setbacks themselves are political camouflage," he said. "They allow politicians to appear that they are taking public health into consideration." He pointed to the blowout of a well in North Dakota last month that sent a geyser of oil, gas and salt water nearly 100 feet into the air, spreading contamination more than a mile downwind from the well site. A 500-foot buffer will be little protection against an accident like that, he said.
Among the studies they point to is one released last year by the Colorado School of Public Health that determined that fracking may have contributed to acute and chronic health problems for those living within half a mile of natural gas drilling sites in Garfield County. Potentially toxic petroleum hydrocarbons like benzene, toluene and xylene were found in the air near wells, according to the three-year study.
4. Industry Tries to Block Colorado Citizens Testimony Calling It Abusive to the Industry (Bob Berwyn, Summit County Citizens Voice.)
The battle over proposed new oil and gas drilling regulations in Colorado has intensified in advance of next week's Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission hearings on new setback requirements.
Energy companies, represented by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) and the Colorado Petroleum Association, sought to block some citizen testimony, saying it's irrelevant and non-scientific. The motions filed by the industry requests that some testimony be stricken from the record because it's "harassing and abusive" to the industry.
Conservation groups advocating for stronger environmental and health protections, specifically for more distance between drilling sites and residential areas, said the motions are insulting to citizens of Colorado.
"It's undemocratic. It's a bullying tactic. They want citizens to be worried about whether they'll be allowed to speak," said Mike Chiropolos, of Western Resource Advocates, adding that the current draft rule tilts to far toward industry interests.
To read Citizens Testimony:
5. NOAA Study—9% of Gas Leaks Into Atmosphere
Yet another study reveals fracking has a huge problem of gas leaks. Up to 9% of the gas pumped out of the ground leaks into the atmosphere according to a study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published in Nature Jan 3, 2013. Natural gas (methane) is a powerful greenhouse gas. If these leaks are widespread, fracking is worse than burning coal accelerating global warming.
In Jan 2012 I detailed new research showing that replacing coal with natural gas from fracking does little to fight climate change (see below). Two studies published in the months after that made an even stronger case that fracking for natural gas is very likely a HUGE MISTAKE:
From Nature: Air sampling reveals high emissions from gas field. Methane leaks during production may offset climate benefits of natural gas.
From Environmental Research Letters: New study demonstrates switching to natural gas is the path to climate disaster. What’s needed is an aggressive deployment of zero-carbon technologies and conservation.
By Stephen Leahy
More Coverage of Alarmingly High Methane –NOAA Study
New research on "alarmingly high methane emissions" brings further environmental scrutiny to gas extraction including fracking, and illustrates how the boom in the industry may well be a plan for climate disaster.
Flares at a natural gas refinery in Colorado. (Photo: Tim Hurst )
The findings, led by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), were presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, the journal Nature reports, and reiterated data the team first noted in February of 2012 that 4% of the methane produced at a field near Denver was escaping into the atmosphere. The team also presented preliminary findings from a Utah study that suggested an even higher rate of methane emissions—9% of the total production.
NOAA describes methane as 25 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than CO2.
"We were expecting to see high methane levels, but I don’t think anybody really comprehended the true magnitude of what we would see," says Colm Sweeney, who led the aerial component of the study as head of the aircraft program at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder.
Jeff Tollefson explains in Nature that the percentage of methane leaked is key to determining whether switching to natural gas from coal-fired generators has a climate benefit; it must be less than 3.2% for that to be the case, he writes.
The Obama administration has embraced fracking as part of its "all-of-the-above" energy strategy. By Andrea Germanos, staff writer
6. Venting and Leaking of Methane Study-Howarth, Cornell U
Shale gas production results in 40 to 60 % more global warming emissions than conventional gas, said Robert Howarth of Cornell University in New York State.
Shale gas also has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than oil or coal over the short term,” said Howarth, co-author of a study called “Venting and Leaking of Methane from Shale Gas Development” to be published in the journal Climatic Change.
“We stand by the conclusion of our 2011 research,” said Howarth.
Industry claims are based on the fact that gas (which is mainly methane) has half the carbon content of coal, and when burned for electricity is more energy efficient than coal.
However, those climate gains are more than negated by methane leaks both at the well during the fracking process (called flow-back), and through the gas delivery and distribution system. Howarth and colleagues estimate that between 3.6 and 7.9 percent of all shale gas produced leaks – called “fugitive emissions” – into the atmosphere, making it worse than burning coal or oil.
Methane has 105 times the warming potential of CO2 over a 20-year time frame, after which it rapidly loses its warming potential. If large amounts of methane are released through fracking – as seems likely with hundreds of thousands of new wells forecast in the next two decades – Howarth says global temperatures could rocket upward from 0.8C currently to 1.8C in 15 to 35 years, running the risk of triggering a tipping point that could lead to catastrophic climate change.
“Our primary concern is that methane emissions over the coming two decades will drive the entire climate system past a major tipping point,” he told IPS.
(Shale Gas Worse Than Coal Study Finds, By Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist
7. Business Workshop: Landowners Can Terminate Oil Leases
“Many Pennsylvania landowners who have signed contracts to allow drilling for oil and gas on their land don’t know that in some cases they can terminate the contract the exact moment that the well stops producing any oil or gas.
This right to terminate the oil and gas lease as soon as the energy stops flowing exists only if the contract calls for royalty payments based on the volume of gas or oil actually produced by the wells on the land, which is called a "production royalty." If the contract calls for flat rental payments or royalties based on well pressure, other termination rules come into play that are much less onerous for producers.
Many producers prefer a production royalty lease because they pay royalties only on gas and oil that they are shipping out for sale.
A recent Pennsylvania Superior Court decision reaffirmed the automatic termination rule for oil and gas leases that use production royalties as the means of paying the landowner. The oil and gas producers that lost the original lawsuit and the Superior Court appeal decided not to take the case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
What that means is that producers in Pennsylvania with production royalty leases do not even have a reasonable period of time to take a well off-line for maintenance or repair without risking lease termination. As soon as the gas or oil stops flowing, the landowner can walk away from the lease.
The only way that a producer can get around this termination rule is if the lease specifically includes a cessation of production clause granting the producer a grace period in which to recommence production for reasons that are explicitly stated in the lease, for example after a mechanical breakdown.
8. DEP Criticized in University of Alberta Report
Conclusion: (from p. 12)
“Unconventional shale gas development has become widespread, bringing with it a growing number of concerns. Critical to untangling these many controversies is better information. Twenty years ago the Bureau wrote, "For 125 years oil and gas drillers and producers have had a veritable free hand in Pennsylvania" (Harper and Cozart, 1992, p. 38). Act 13 of 2012 is simply Pennsylvania's latest effort to close this gap. Our analysis of the DEP's Act 13 reporting suggests that, unfortunately, this "veritable free hand" persists.
Our intention in this article has not been to determine the exact number of unconventional gas well spuds in Pennsylvania, but to assess the extent to which the DEP has fulfilled its Act 13 reporting requirements. Though clearly more than 4,906 unconventional gas wells were spud by the end of 2011, determining the true number of such wells remains the DEP's responsibility. In this regard, we hope that our analysis may prompt the DEP to reconsider its statutory requirements more carefully. Until these omissions are corrected, the many state, county, and municipal stakeholders impacted by unconventional gas well drilling will not be compensated for the impacts of unconventional gas wells as required by Act 13.
9. Ohio Governor Realizes Gas Workers Are From Out of State
Gov. John Kasich has joked several times about the people he wants to see working with the oil and gas industry in Ohio
“…and with the energy companies I told them, we don’t want foreigners working on our well heads, those are people from West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan and Oklahoma, okay? We want Ohioans on the well head,” said Kasich in the February speech. But Kasich now says he’s concerned that out of state employees are being brought in to work with the drillers.
“So you could have the situation where we are not getting the jobs, they are taking the resources and all of their profits and they are heading home. That is not acceptable to me. Now we don’t have the conclusive evidence that this is happening yet but I want you to know and I want all of the companies to know that this is an extremely serious matter and we expect them to be responsive to the people of this state,” says Kasich.
Tom Stewart, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, says the oil and gas companies have invested over $3 billion in Ohio, and because they’re moving quickly, they need to bring in workers who can handle the jobs right away.
“You’re talking about an industry that is reaching the pinnacle of technological advances in oil and gas. It’s equivalent to drilling oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico. You just don’t hire people who’ve had two weeks of training and put them on this rig. You hire people who are equipped and ready to do this kind of job and you get them from where they can be supplied to,” says Stewart.
And Stewart says Ohioans are building hotels, restaurants and other businesses to serve the workers with the oil and gas drillers – so those companies are stimulating the state’s economy.
“The economic multiplier is creating jobs far, far beyond what we’re registering just today. We need to encourage people. We need to quit talking about investigating that,” says Stewart.
Kasich has proposed an increase in the severance tax that oil and gas drillers would pay, which the industry has strongly opposed.
Comment from Group Member: You don't get the high tech paying jobs -- you can invest your own money in a hotel or a restaurant and BE HAPPY WITH THAT.
Dominion Resources gets court’s OK to export liquefied natural gas from Maryland facility
10. Industry Will Not Cooperate with EPA So Fracking Contamination Study Will Not Happen
So the government doesn’t have the authority to gather the data it needs to protect public health? jan
“The environmental group Earthworks, said it welcomes an EPA study but has concerns about not including information on the probability of groundwater contamination in the EPA final report.
The EPA had planned to do both computer simulations of water contamination and actual field tests at drilling sites. But the agency hasn’t found a drilling company to partner with to test groundwater around a drilling site. That leaves the computer simulations. But the EPA said computer simulations won’t be able to address the likelihood of contamination “occurring during actual field operations.”
Because of its inability to find a single company willing to test water quality before and after drilling and fracking, the EPA is being thwarted in perhaps the most important part of its study of fracking’s impacts,” Earthworks said in a statement.
“Computer simulations are not enough,” Alan Septoff, a spokesman for Earthworks, said. He said the EPA study and any future studies should consider the likelihood of water contamination.
The EPA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“More collaboration, continued transparency and stakeholder involvement are essential elements for any scientifically sound study, and we hope that the rest of this process remains open and any data released has the necessary context,” API policy adviser Stephanie Meadows said.
Despite its concerns, Earthworks described the EPA study as a positive step.
“It represents a step towards EPA’s first real scientific inquiry into the safety of fracking,” the group said.
11. Dominion Gas Gets Approval to Liquefy and Export Gas
TO Japan
ImageDominion Resources Inc. can export liquefied natural gas from its Cove Point, Md., facility, a state court ruled, rejecting arguments by the Sierra Club that the exports violate a 2005 agreement.
“The agreement specifically allows for ‘delivery by pipeline of LNG from the LNG terminal site,‘” Judge Salmon stated in his 10-page opinion. “This plainly allows the tankers at the pier to receive LNG from the terminal site.”
Sierra Club said Dominion‘s gas plan would encourage fracking, a process they say harms natural resources and people. It would also raise gas and electricity prices and damage ecologically sensitive lands.
Sierra Club sued to block construction of the terminal to import natural gas in the 1970s, and settled the case in return for gaining the right to approve plans for expansion. The group said it won‘t grant such permission, according to the court ruling.
Dominion still needs approval for the project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and permission from the Energy Department to export liquefied gas to countries such as Japan, which are not covered by a free-trade agreement.
Cove Point exporting terminal is one of 21 proposed projects that — if approved — could export a total of nearly 30 billion cubic feet per day of American natural gas overseas.
The Sierra Club is disappointed by this ruling, and we are reviewing the decision,” said Craig Segall, a lawyer for Sierra Club. “We will continue to work to protect the Chesapeake Bay and the surrounding region from the dangerous pollution that would result from Dominion‘s unwise plans to frack and export natural gas.”
“We‘re moving forward with the project,” said Dan Donovan, a spokesman for Dominion. “Efforts are going on in engineering, marketing and regulatory review.”
Dominion is negotiating terminal services agreements for potential customers of its Cove Point project, including Japan‘s Sumitomo Corp.
12. Interview with Dr. Ingraffea of Cornell U.
by Ellen Canterow
Dr. Anthony Ingraffea—Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering, Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University and president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Inc. Among his teaching awards are the Society of Women Engineers’ Professor of the Year Award in 1997 and the 2001 Daniel Luzar ’29 Excellence in Teaching Award from the College of Engineering. He organized and directed the Synthesis National Engineering Education Coalition
Q. And slickwater?
A. That’s the name given to the fracking fluid. It’s been laced with a lubricant because contrary to what you’d think, water isn’t slippery or viscous enough to do the job.
Q. Could we backtrack to earlier fracking? Was there only one well?
A. Yes. In so-called conventional fracking for natural gas, there is only one well per pad. That’s because one is hoping to intersect a large, concentrated volume of gas, a trapped bubble if you will. This is not the case in unconventional shale gas, where the gas is distributed, not concentrated, so one needs to drill virtually everywhere with many pads and many wells per pad.
Q. What’s a “pad?” Is it cement?
A. [laughs] No, it just refers to an area. The pad is the area the operator uses or requires to do all of the operations of drilling and fracking and storage, and freshwater and wastewater containment.
If you look at aerial photographs, everything you see—all the drilling rigs and trucks and tanks and the little ponds—that’s a “pad.” And of course multi-wells mean a lot of wells in the area, and you see a clustered pad arrangement when you fly over an area of a state and you see pads put down in a regular grid pattern. There will be a pad every one mile north, one mile south, one mile east, one mile west. When I talk to the public who are not familiar with this, the part of the process they have most difficulty with isn’t the fracking—going down vertically and then turning—the thing they have most difficulty with is this clustered pad arrangement.
Spatial Intensity
The single most significant element of shale gas development that seems to just not be understood by many is its spatial intensity. It is an extreme form of fossil fuel development because of the very large number of very big wells, total vertical and lateral length and volume of the frack fluid, that have to be drilled throughout a shale play [“play” is the engineering and industry term for “formation.”]
So what do I think is the largest threat to humans posed by the unconventional development of natural gas from shale formations around the world? And if I wanted to be more specific as an engineer, strictly speaking, what is the greatest threat from clustered multi-well pads, using high-volume hydraulic fracturing from long laterals? That’s the problem.
Because it’s a spatially intense, heavy industrial activity which involves far more than drill-the-well-frack-the-well-connect-the-pipeline-and-go-away, it results in much more land clearing, much more devastation of forests and fields. There’s the necessity of building thousands of miles of pipelines which again results in destruction of forests
and fields. There’s the construction of many compressor stations, industrial facilities that compress the gas for transport through pipelines and burn enormous quantities of diesel. [They make] very loud noise and emit hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. Then, there’s the necessary construction of waste pits, and fresh-water ponds which again require heavy earth movement, heavy construction equipment, the off-gassing of waste products from the waste pits, and tremendous amount of heavy truck traffic which again results in burning of large quantities of diesel, increased damage to roads, bridges and increased risk to civilian transportation in the midst of the traffic.
13. Morgantown Ban Overturned So City Fights Back By Imposing Zoning Regs
The Morgantown City Council passed a ban on drilling within city limits, but a few months ago, that ban was overturned by a local judge. Companies are now allowed to drill in the city’s industrial parks, although no further drilling has occurred so far this year.
Image Concerns over water and air pollution are what led the Morgantown City Council to ban fracking within a mile of the city’s limits. The Northeast Natural Energy Company, which was drilling in an industrial park on Greenbag Road, sued the city, and Monongalia Circuit Court Judge Susan Tucker overturned the ban this past summer. Tucker argued that the city did not have the legal authority to ban fracking and that only the West Virginia Department of Environmental Regulation could regulate it. "[The lawsuit] was a test to finish what we had to do in the city of Morgantown,” says Mike John, the CEO of Northeast Natural Energy Company, which is headquartered in Charleston. In response, the city passed a local zoning ordinance restricting fracking to industrial parks within Morgantown and stipulating that no drilling could take place within 625 feet of a building. Mr. John says he has no plans at this point to sue the city again and at present there is no drilling going in within city limits.
14. Home Rule is the Demise of the Industry Says Holko of Lenape Resources
In three decades of drilling, John C. Holko said, his oil and gas business has never faced such a hostile environment. Years after he negotiated leases for gas drilling in upstate New York, strict rules on fracking that state environmental officials proposed threaten to put 20 percent of that land off limits, he estimated. And local drilling bans adopted by town boards could put him out of business altogether, he said.
“Why should I put money in the ground if any one of the towns can say no at the next town meeting?” said Mr. Holko, the president of Lenape Resources in western New York. “The issue of home rule is the demise of the industry.” In November, he sued the State Department of Environmental Conservation and Avon, N.Y., in Livingston County, seeking $50 million in damages for lost business since the town enacted a ban on all drilling last summer.
15. Will EPA Back Down On Fracking
ImageAlthough fracking was exempted from the Federal Clean Water Act in 2005, use of diesel fuel, which contains a number of toxic chemical compounds, was not exempted for fracking use. However, what exactly constitutes "diesel" has been an issue of dispute.
Under Jackson, the EPA also said it would begin to regulate frack wastewater, probably in 2014, which is usually trucked offsite and sometimes re-injected elsewhere, although increasingly it is being reprocessed for further use. The EPA could face pressure to backtrack on environmental initiatives.
In April, the agency relented to pressure from the industry, giving drillers until January 2015 to end the practice of "flaring" excess gas from wells that were not connected to pipelines. It had initially proposed that firms cease almost immediately.
16. Progress on Use of Tracers To Identify Frack Fluid
By Andrew Revkin
(Tracers can be added to frack chemicals and then be used to determine if chemicals found in contaminated drinking water came from nearby fracked wells. Jan)
…” the most promising new concept I’ve seen on the water-pollution front is introducing a well-specific tracer to fracking fluid.
Here’s some background on two approaches that are being pursued.
Mark K. Boling, the president of a division of Southwestern Energy focused on minimizing impacts of its gas drilling, sent the following note when I asked him about the idea of tracers:
We are working with Rice University to develop a new tracer technology. Unlike the current fluid tracing methods sometimes utilized by the oil and gas industry (radioactive isotope tracers and chemical tracers), this technology uses specially designed nanoparticles that exhibit a unique profile, or “signature,” that can be detected at low concentrations. This new tracer technology is a stable, non-invasive, non-toxic tracer that can be used for long term fluid identification. The current schedule is to complete the laboratory testing by the end of the year and, if successful, start field-testing in the first quarter of 2013.
Another approach, using inert DNA sequences as a tag, is being refined and tested by BaseTrace, a startup company created last year by a group of former Duke University graduate students (its name has changed from SafeTNA).
I asked Justine Chow, the chief executive officer of BaseTrace, for an update. Here’s her reply:
SafeTNA was founded in early 2012 as an inert DNA-based tracer that could be incorporated into hydraulic fracturing fluid to address contamination concerns. Initial modeling indicated that a thimble-full of the tracer would be detectable under foreseeable conditions, even when mixed with millions of gallons of fluid. The tracer uses a unique, proprietary structure to make it withstand extreme temperatures/pressures and stop codons to make it completely inert. Because DNA has the advantage of providing a near-infinite number of sequence variations, the tracer is well-specific and easily testable. We can verify the tracer presence in frac fluid by testing for it in the flowback water.”
17. Pipeline Company Sues To Block Delaware River Network and Responsible Drilling Alliance
A company that is building more than 20 miles of natural gas pipeline in Northeast Pennsylvania is asking U.S. District Court to block an attempt by environmental groups to disrupt the project. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC argued in a complaint filed this week that the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board is pre-empted by federal law from taking action on appeals by the Delaware River Network and the Responsible Drilling Alliance that could delay construction. Houston-based Tennessee Gas is constructing nearly 41 miles of 30-inch pipeline in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as part of an expansion known as the Northeast Upgrade Project.
The EHB is scheduled to conduct a hearing on the requests beginning Monday. For example, to avoid violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends any tree cutting for the Pennsylvania portion of the project take place before March 31. Similarly, tree cutting for a Pike County portion of the project must be done by the same date to reduce impacts on the Indiana bat, the complaint said. "Any delay, no matter how brief, may have a cascading effect of dramatically delaying project completion," the company said.
18. Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon gets no bonus for 2012
Chesapeake Energy Corp. disclosed Monday that CEO Aubrey McClendon will not take a bonus for last year and that the company is limiting his use of corporate aircraft. Chesapeake stripped McClendon, its founder, of his chairman title in June after a series of corporate-governance issues upset investors. Those included a report that he took a personal loan from a company that was doing business with Chesapeake.
Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake has also been struggling financially, due in part to a plunge in natural-gas prices. It has cut jobs, sold assets, and disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday, that it is substantially reducing its executives' annual incentive compensation for 2012. That includes McClendon going without a bonus, at his own recommendation. In 2011, he received a bonus of $1.95 million, unchanged from the previous two years.”
19. Health Impact Assessment for Battlement Mesa, Garfield County Colorado –Air Recommendations (Excerpted)
Prepared by:
Roxana Witter, MD, MSPH
Lisa McKenzie, PhD
Meredith Towle, BS
Kaylan Stinson, MSPH
Kenneth Scott, BA, MPH
Lee Newman, MD, MA
John Adgate, PhD, MSPH
September 2010
Part One Page 25
4.1.5 Findings and Recommendations from Air Quality Assessment
What we know: Air pollution is a hazard to the public health. GCPH and CDPHE ambient air studies, air toxics studies, and the broader scientific literature demonstrate that natural gas development and production contribute diminish air quality. These studies also show that the largest volume of emissions to air occur during well development. The Human Health Risk Assessment in this HIA, previous CDPHE risk assessments, and Saccomanno Study all conclude that there is likely to be an increased risk of cancer and other chronic and acute health effects from residential exposure to air emissions that can result from natural gas development and production. There have been several odor complaints associated with the Watson-Ranch well pad at the perimeter of the PUD filed with the COGCC. These odor complaints resulted in COGCC issuing a Notice of Alleged Violation.
What we do not know: The ambient air quality within the Battlement Mesa PUD is not known.
The levels of air emissions during all stages of natural gas development and production are not known. Many types of possible emissions, such as PAHs and fracking chemicals, as well as the contribution of PM and ozone have not been assessed. It is not known if the set backs of wells from occupied buildings are adequate to protect public health.
Recommendations to Reduce Impacts to Public Health from Air Pollution
Based on these findings, the following are some of the suggested ways to reduce the potential impact of air emissions.
1. Require submission of a quality assurance project plan (also known as a QAPP) to GCPH for review and approval for all monitoring specified in these recommendations to assure monitoring information will be adequate for informing public health decisions.
2. Require Antero monitoring results conducted in response to CDPHE consultation (dated 4/12/2010) be made available to the public in a timely manner to provide accessible information and transparency.
3. Require corrective action when odor events occur, including notification of the GCPH and residents to reduce impacts.
4. Require adherence to COGCC 805b green completion practices, with no variances, and EPA natural gas STAR program to reduce VOC emissions to the lowest level technically possible.
5. Require use of electrically powered generators in place of diesel-powered generators for well drilling and fracking operations to reduce VOC, PAH, and PM emissions.
6. Require a valid emissions permit from the CDPHE for each well pad, per COGCC rule 805b to establish inspection and monitoring requirements.
Draft Battlement Mesa HIA Conducted by
September 2010 Colorado School of Public Health
7. To reduce VOC emission, require pilot lights on production tank combustors remain lit
through use of appropriate technology, such as spark igniters.
8. Require adherence to dust control measures and traffic measures specified in the Surface Use Agreement.
9. Require that Antero establish and implement a plan that ensures all trucks used for its plan within the PUD meet emission standards specified in the Clean Fuel Vehicles (heavy trucks) for the Clean Fuel Fleet Program (CFR Part 88.105-94) to reduce VOC, PAH, and PM emissions.
10.Require truckloads of dirt, sand, aggregate materials, drilling cuttings, and similar materials be covered to reduce dust and PM emissions.
11.Require pits at the water storage facility to be covered to reduce VOC emissions.
12.Require air monitoring of water storage facility for VOC/BTEX and report results to GCPH.
The recommendations to address information gaps are in Section 5.
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens GroupMission Statement
  • To raise the public’s general awareness and understanding of the impacts of Marcellus drilling on the natural environment, health, and long-term economies of local communities.
Officers: President-Jan Milburn
Treasurer-Wanda Guthrie
Secretary-Ron Nordstrom
Facebook Coordinator-Elizabeth Nordstrom
Blogsite –April Jackman
Science Subcommittee-Dr. Cynthia Walter