Friday, February 1, 2013

Jan's Updates jan. 31, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates  January 31, 2013
To receive our news updates, please email jan at

*  For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;      
*  To contact your state legislator:   
            Click on the envelope under the photo for email address
*  For information on the state gas legislation and local control: 

Calendar of Events

***Fracking and Your Health-Public Meeting

St Vincent College, Tuesday March 19, evening
Speakers:  Nadia Steinzor of Earthworks;  Raina Rippel of Southwest Health and Environment, Ralph Miranda, MD and Moderator, and the personal experience of the Headley family
Q and A will follow
Sponsored by: WMCG and Mt Watershed Assoc 

***Westmoreland County Commissioners Meeting-  2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the county courthouse at 10:00 

***Climate Change Rally in DC-from Thomas Merton-Sierra Club

 PITTSBURGH BUS TO DC On Sunday, February 17, thousands of Americans will head to Washington, D.C. to make Forward on Climate the largest climate rally in history.  Join this historic event to make your voice heard and help the president start his second term with strong climate action.

 More about the day can be found at 


We're bringing a bus from Pittsburgh to DC on February 17, and we would love for you to join us.

 We have 56 seats available so sign up now! Bus Departure: 7 AM, Sunday, February 17 (please arrive at 6:45 AM)

 Departure Location: The bus will leave promptly at 7 AM from the  Edgewood Towne Center near the Parkway East in Swissvale from the back-most parking lot.

 We're asking everyone to contribute $40 towards the cost of your seat with reduced fare of $25 for students and those with limited income.

 To register: Please register with and more information will be sent to you. If you are 17 years of age or younger you must be accompanied by an adult.

 We welcome any and every contribution from well wishers and organizations to cover the cost. We suggest that donations be made to our informal Climate Rally Reserve Fund (CRRF).  The Fund will help cover the cost discrepancy between the full $40 fare and the student or limited income fare of $25, and provide a reserve for any unforeseen expenses related to the rally.  Checks in any amount should be made payable to "Sierra Club, Allegheny Group", marked CRRF and mailed to our treasurer, Bob Lang, Sierra Club, 817 Jefferson Dr., Pittsburgh PA 15229. 

 Recruitment and sponsorship provided by: 
Allegheny Group Sierra Club
Environmental Justice Committee Thomas Merton Center,
Environmental Quaker Action Team Pittsburgh (EQAT),
and local friends of Earth .... 

For a full calendar of area events please see “Marcellus Protest” calendar:


***Good Work on DOE Comments!! From Gloria

THANK YOU ALL!  The DOE received over 200,000 comments on the proposed terminals for LNG (liquefied natural gas)!

*** Call Public Radio

Call in during the WESA winter membership drive to voice your opposition to Range Resources ads on this Pittsburgh radio station.  Call 412-697-2055 this week 1/28 - 2/2 and talk to volunteers about why you will drop memberships and donations until WESA stops advertising for RR.  The false statements in the RR ads make WESA complicit in misinforming the public on the important issues of gas industry development, and they lose the public trust in the station's ability to report on energy issues without a conflict of interest.  

(They will make a note of and pass on your comments.  jan) 

*** Sign Petition To Pennsylvania Game Commission
 Oppose the proposed oil and gas lease of State Game Lands
Started by: Suzanne, West Middlesex, Pennsylvania

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA - 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

***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.




***The Recorded Ingraffea Englender Debate is now available


*** New and Better Frac Mapper

A new mapping utility for website visitors who want an easy-to-use point and click tool.           

*** 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.

***GASP Releases Citizen Handbook for Commenting on Marcellus Air Permits



1. DEP Misrepresented Permit For Wastewater Treatment
          Permit Rescinded Only After Penn Future Sues

(DEP misrepresented the wastewater permit, it also did not send full reports on water quality to residents who were sick and claimed their water had changed once fracking started, it will not aggregate compressor pollution as recommended by the EPA, It met with industry behind closed doors to revise and weaken GP5 regs for NOX and other pollutants and on and on. The PA DEP has increasingly become an embarrassment.)

            The DEP has rescinded a Marcellus Shale wastewater treatment permit that would have allowed a New Jersey company to spread chemically contaminated salts on roadways, sidewalks and fields statewide.

            The DEP pulled the permit, issued in August to Integrated Water Technologies Inc., after admitting the required public notice about the permit did not accurately describe the permitted activity and the department hadn't fully considered the impact on the environment.

            The DEP's decision to rescind the permit for the as-yet-to-be-built treatment plant in North Fayette was announced Saturday in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

            It comes less than four months after Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future filed an appeal with the state Environmental Hearing Board that alleged the department had pulled a "switcheroo" by not accurately describing the permit in its public notice. The environmental advocacy organization also asked the hearing board to rescind the permit.

            At that time, Kevin Sunday, a DEP spokesman, issued a statement that called PennFuture's appeal "baseless" and "an attempt to manufacture a controversy."

            Mr. Sunday, in a statement issued Monday, said the DEP expects to republish the permit notice.

            "We are, in the interest of public participation and transparency, providing the public an additional opportunity to comment on this permit," the statement said.

            The DEP's original public notice described the permit narrowly -- for the treatment and processing of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations at Marcellus Shale gas wells. But after meeting privately with officials of the firm, the DEP issued a permit that allowed two chemical compounds originally classified as waste to be classified as "beneficial use" material that could be used as road and sidewalk de-icer, for roadway dust suppression and for soil stabilization in fields.           

And, according to that altered permit, issued in August without public participation on those changes, those salty compounds -- crystallized sodium chloride and liquid calcium chloride -- also can contain limited amounts of arsenic, lead, mercury, ammonia, volatile organic compounds and diesel hydrocarbons.

            Those are significant changes, according to PennFuture, and could impact public health, but no public comment or input was sought by the DEP.

            "One of our jobs is to protect the public's right to participate in government decision making," said George Jugovic Jr., who served as DEP southwest region director in the Rendell administration and is now PennFuture president and chief executive officer. "DEP misrepresented what the permit was about and did so after extensive back-and-forth meetings with the company."

            Integrated Water, based in Parsippany, N.J., could not be reached Monday for comment. In October, a spokesman said the company was in the process of getting financing for the wastewater treatment facility, which, according to plans, would be capable of processing between 500,000 and 1 million gallons of wastewater a day from the fracking process.

(Don Hopey: or 412-263-1983.

2. Range Sues Robinson
(Range-- being the good neighbor it is. jan)

             “Range Resources Corp. is taking Robinson, Washington County, to court to win approval for two gas well sites.

            The Texas company's local subsidiary filed suit in a state appeals court Monday asking it to review land-use decisions from township supervisors. The company claims township officials aren't following their own laws and have illegally extended local permit hearings since November.”


3. It’s Official: Wind Beats Natural Gas As Top Source of New Power in 2012


According to the industry group American Wind Energy Association, the U.S. wind power industry not only had its best year ever in 2012, but exceeded natural gas in the installation of new electric generating capacity. Now the total wind generation capacity in the U.S. stands at over 60,000 MW (60 gigawatts, or GW). Remember that it took the U.S. 25 years to reach 10 GW of wind energy capacity. Between 2008 and 2012, that amount surged from 20 GW to 60 GW.
            The new milestones will be a shot in the arm for clean energy advocates, who have witnessed a roller coaster of hopes and disappointments the last several years. For example, T. Boone Pickens was once a big proponent of wind power, only to eventually pull his support out of all wind projects in which he had invested. Ironically, much of the new wind power capacity is in the central or prairie states Pickens had envisioned, including Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa.”

4. Farm Supporters Lock Down to Giant Pig at Fracking Well-Site, Highlight Risks to Safe Food Source

Bessemer, PA – This afternoon, residents of Western Pennsylvania and friends of Lawrence County farmer Maggie Henry locked themselves to a giant paper-mache pig in the entrance to a Shell natural gas well site in order to protest the company’s threat to local agriculture and food safety. The newly-constructed gas well is located at 1545 PA Route 108, Bessemer, PA , 16102, less than 4,000 feet from Henry’s organic pig farm.

            The farm has been in the Henry family for generations and has been maintained as a small business despite pressure from industry consolidation. The Henry’s made a switch from dairy to organic pork and poultry production several years ago as part of their commitment to keeping the operation safe and sustainable for generations to come. Joining Maggie Henry at the well site are residents from other Pennsylvania counties affected by natural gas drilling and Pittsburgh-area residents of all ages who support Henry’s fight. Many are customers who buy her food at farmers’ markets and grocery stores who do not want to see the integrity of their food source compromised.

            The Henry farm is especially vulnerable to the risks associated with fracking because it is located in an area riddled with hundreds of abandoned oil wells from the turn of the 20th century. According to hydro-geologist Daniel Fisher who has studied the area, “Each of these abandoned wells is a potentially direct pathway or conduit to the surface should any gas or fluids migrate upward from the wells during or after fracking." Methane leaks from gas wells have been responsible for numerous explosions in or near residences in Pennsylvania in recent years. Migrating gas and fluids also threaten groundwater supplies, on which Henry and her animals depend for their drinking water. Last summer a major gas leak in Tioga County, PA caused by Shell’s own drilling operations, produced a 30 ft geyser of methane and water, which spewed from an unplugged well and forced several families to evacuate.

            The nine ft. tall pig is stationed in the driveway of the site with four protestors chained to its' legs, obstructing traffic to and from the site. The protestors are wearing signs that read, “Fracking Threatens Food” and “Protect Farms for Our Future”. A couple dozen supporters are also on the scene.


Nick Lubecki, one of the protestors locked to the pig, recently started a farm of his own in Allegheny County. He worries about the future of agriculture in Pennsylvania, which is the state’s number one industry. “It is extremely disturbing as a young farmer to have to worry about the safety of the water supply in a chaotically changing climate while these out of state drillers have the red carpet rolled out for them. In a few years the drillers will all be gone when this boom turns to bust like these things always do. I don’t want to be stuck with their mess to clean up
Keystone XL pipeline, slated to transport crude oil from the devastating Tar Sands Prior to this action, Henry exhausted all avenues to prevent or shut down the well through the legal system. Supporters of her farm have also held previous protests at the site. Despite the heightened risks posed by the abandoned wells in the area, Shell is moving forward with their operations, and Maggie’s supporters have turned to civil disobedience.

The action comes on the heels of escalating civil disobedience across the continent to stop extreme energy projects, like fracking, strip mining, and tar sands oil mining, which destroy communities and fuel the climate crisis. Last week a coalition of Appalachian and Navajo communities impacted by strip mining, blockaded Peabody Coal’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO. And earlier this month protestors in eastern Texas erected a tree sit blockade to halt construction of TransCanada’s mining in Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas.

Follow the story:, Twitter - @shadbushcollect #maggiesfarm

Contact: Ben Fiorillo – 412-999-9086, or Diane Sipe – 724-272-4539


5. DEP Gives $20 million to Convert Fleets to Gas

             “The DEP has begun accepting applications for its Natural Gas Vehicle grant program which will provide up to $20 million over the next three years to pay for the purchase and conversion costs of gas fleet vehicles.”

(DEP announces opening of natural gas vehicle grant, 12-9-12, Latrobe bulleting.


6. New York Regulators Get 204,000 Anti-Drilling Letters

            “ State regulations make for pretty dull reading, but you'd never know it from the mountains of cardboard boxes of public comments generated by the latest gas-drilling guidelines proposed by New York's environmental agency.

            Many of the 204,000 letters anti-drilling groups say they submitted are the result of social media outreach and meetings at libraries, community centers and churches where organizers would hand out form letters and stamped envelopes.

            A statewide network of hundreds of anti-drilling groups revved up the effort shortly after the Department of Environmental Conservation posted updated regulations online at the end of November. When the public comment period ended Jan. 11, a coalition of groups called New Yorkers Against Fracking announced it had presented 204,000 comments to the agency.”


7. IGS Will Build Natural Gas Station on I-79

            IGS will build a $10 million network of compressed natural gas fueling stations for vehicles along I-79 from Charleston to Mount Morris, PA. It is to serve the growing number of businesses and residents converting to natural gas vehicles.  The fueling corridor is the first of its kind.

(IGS Energy to Build Natural gas Stations on I-79, Latrobe bulletin, 1-18-13)


8. Will Ohio Start Accepting Drilling Brine at 40 Landfills?

            “A scenario of large quantities of solidified brine coming into the state worries environmentalists. “It’s bizarre that Ohio would be letting brine go into its landfills,” said activist Teresa Mills, of Columbus.  

            Because Ohio landfills cannot accept liquid wastes under current law, the liquid would have to be solidified by adding materials like cement kiln dust, fly ash, foundry sands, shredded auto parts or wood chips. It then could be classified as solid waste, not hazardous waste, which requires the special and more costly treatment that critics advocate.

            The liquid wastes can contain significant amounts of salts and total dissolved solids; low-level radiation and toxic heavy metals picked up from the underground rocks; oils and grease; leftover toxic chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing of the underground rock; and certain volatile organic compounds, including cancer-causing benzene.”


9. Obama Delays Frack Rules Opposed by Industry and Environmentalists

            “In response to criticism from both the oil industry and environmentalists, the Obama administration is scrapping a 2012 plan to impose new mandates governing drilling on public lands.

          The measure would have forced energy companies to reveal chemicals used when drilling for oil and natural gas on federal lands.

In a move that riled environmentalists, the Interior Department decided to require those disclosures only after the substances are pumped underground.

The proposed rule also would have imposed new well construction standards, testing requirements and mandates for managing and storing water that flows back after fracturing begins.

            It is unclear how much the proposal could change, but it appears likely the new draft rule still will include some kind of chemical disclosure, well-bore integrity assurances and plans for managing flowback water. The Bureau of Land Management is using more than 170,000 public comments to guide the rewrite.”







Pa. DEP Photo : This 90-degree plastic elbow cracked, allowing 10,500 gallons of flowback to enter a small tributary of Brush Run in Washington County, Pa.  Only 500 gallons was recovered.


10. Shell Considering Only PA for the Highly Polluting Cracker Plant

           Royal Dutch Shell is not scouting other states for sites to put the massive petrochemical plant that it has delayed building in PA, Gov. Tom Corbett said. "If they're going to build it, they're going to build it here,"








Photo by Bob Donnan



11. Fracking Has Not Been Done for Decades As Industry Claims--Ingraffea

          “ The technology for fracking horizontal or deviated shallow gas or tight oil is not 60 years old,” (as the industry claims, jan) notes world expert Ingraffea.

            Only in the last two decades have four different technologies made it possible to fracture deep shale rock formations one to two kilometres underground. They include directional drilling (wells that go down a kilometre and then extend horizontally for another kilometre): the use of millions of litres of fracturing fluids including sand, water and toxic chemicals; slick water (the use of gels and high fluid volumes at 100 barrels a minute) and multi-well pad and cluster drilling (the drilling of six to nine wells from one industrial platform).

            "All four of these technologies had to come together to allow shale gas fracturing," says Ingraffea.

            The first horizontal shale gas well was drilled in 1991; the first slick water fracture took place in 1996; and the use of cluster drilling from one pad didn't happen until 2007.

            Until a decade ago it just wasn't possible to open fractures in walls of shale rock 20 metres thick, a kilometre under the ground, with 20 million litres of fracking fluid pumped by 20,000 worth of horsepower to drain trapped methane in an area as large two kilometres by one kilometre.

            Expertise is also limited. Of 75 oil and gas firms that recently invaded Pennsylvania to develop the Marcellus shale play, only a half dozen had any experience combining all four technologies.

            So the industry claim that hydraulic fracturing is a proven 60-year-old technology is just that: a provocative myth containing a pebble of truth.”


12. Ingraffea on Methane Leaks


            “Industry studies clearly show that five to seven per cent of all new oil and gas wells leak. As wells age, the percentage of leakers can increase to a startling 30 or 50 per cent. But the worst leakers are horizontal wells commonly used for hydraulic fracturing.

            In 2010, 111 of 1,609 wells drilled and fracked failed and leaked. That's a 6.9 per cent rate of failure. In 2012, 67 out of 1,014 wells leaked -- a seven per cent rate of failure.

            In fact leaking wellbores has been a persistent and chronic problem for decades. Even a 2003 article in Oil Field Review, a publication of Schlumberger, reported that, "Since the earliest gas wells, uncontrolled migration of hydrocarbons to the surface has challenged the oil and gas industry."

            In 2012 Ingraffea and colleagues read through 16,017 inspection reports filed over the last four years. What they found was a significant and steady rate of methane leaks at the wellbore or what is known in industry jargon as "bubbling in the cellar."

            The scientific truth is irrefutable says Ingraffea: "Fluid migration from faulty wells is a well-known chronic problem with an expected rate of occurrence." Inadequate well construction and monitoring remains a persistent industry problem.

            The health implications are also serious. The migration of methane or fracking fluid has repeatedly contaminated groundwater across North America or polluted the atmosphere with methane, a potent greenhouse gas.








The natural gas industry is now the largest source of methane releases into the atmosphere after factory farms and landfills.

            Most of the problem comes from leakage. Methane wafts into the air during drilling as well as during frack fluid flowback. Some leaks occur during the compression of natural gas and others during pipeline transport.

            Natural gas plants, which scrub the gas free of impurities and water, also leak substantive amounts of methane. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers once estimated that a typical sweet gas plant might leak 188 tons of methane a year and a sour gas plant about 251 tons. But a 2004 survey by Alberta researcher Allan Chambers using a special radar and gas leak camera found real methane leaks at six Alberta gas plants were four to eight times higher than industry estimates. The sweet plant leaked 1264 tons while the sour plant leaked 1020 tons a year.

            The scale of leakage rates has stunned researchers. In a city like Boston the local gas delivery system leaks as much as five per cent of the product according to new research from Boston University geographer Nathan Phillips. The study, the first of its kind, found pervasive methane leaks throughout an aging delivery system (some 3,300 leaks) that damaged trees and wasted millions of dollars.

            But new studies on heavily fracked natural gas fields indicate leakage rates from wells can range anywhere from four to nine per cent of total methane or natural gas production. That's nearly double or triple of previous estimates of leakage.

            A 2013 study in Nature, one of the world's leading scientific journals, found that fractured gas fields in Colorado and Utah were leaking nine per cent of their methane into the air.

It is now estimated that methane emissions from shale gas are nearly 30 times more than those of conventional gas over the lifetime of a well.”


13. PA DEP Will Study Radiation

(Many fracking studies are being proposed only now, as thousands of wells have already been and continue to be permitted and drilled. Thanks to Governor Corbett and his allies, we are an experiment. Jan)

            “The DEP has announced a year long study of radiation levels in equipment and wastes associated with oil and gas development it says will be the "most extensive and comprehensive" ever conducted. The regulatory agency announced the study Thursday and said it will test radiation levels at dozens of well pads, wastewater treatment plants and waste disposal facilities statewide.

            Oil and gas-bearing rock formations like the Marcellus Shale contain naturally occurring radiation that is brought to the surface in wastewater and rock waste. It can concentrate on pipes or equipment or in wastewater sludges. Some fluid samples from shale drilling indicate "significant concentrations" of radium 226, a naturally occurring radioactive metal, according to the study proposal by Perma-Fix Environmental Services of Pittsburgh.”


14. WASTE & WASTEWATER FACILITIES listed by the PA DEP in the reporting period Jan 1, 2012 - June 30, 2012 (the next report is due out around Feb. 15)

            (Bob listed the facilities. In scanning the list I noticed several from the western PA area. Jan)

Yukon Facility – Yukon, Pa.
McCutcheon Enterprise – Apollo, Pa.
Mostoller Landfill - Somerset, Pa.
Reserved Environmental Services - Mount Pleasant, Pa.
South Hills Landfill - 3100 Hill Road - South Hills, Pa 15129
Waste Management, Inc – Arden Landfill, Inc. - Washington, Pa.
Waste Management, Inc. - Laurel Highlands Landfill - Johnstown, Pa
Waste Recovery Solutions, Inc. - Myerstown, Pa.
Wayne Township Landfill (Clinton County) - McElhattan, Pa.
Weavertown Environmental Group - McDonald, Pa.
Westmoreland Waste, LLC – Belle Vernon, Pa.
White Pines Landfill – Millville, Pa.


15. Fracking Wastewater Can be Highly Radioactive-    Especially Marcellus Wastewater

             “Its contents remain mostly a mystery. But fracking wastewater has revealed one of its secrets: It can be highly radioactive. And yet no agency really regulates its handling, transport or disposal. Studies from the U.S. Geological Survey, Penn State University and environmental groups all found that waste from fracking can be radioactive -- and in some cases, highly radioactive. A geological survey report found that millions of barrels of wastewater from unconventional wells in Pennsylvania and conventional wells in New York were 3,609 times more radioactive than the federal limit for drinking water and 300 times more radioactive than a Nuclear Regulatory Commission limit for nuclear plant discharges. And Mark Engle, the USGS research geologist who co-authored the report, said that fracking flowback from the Marcellus shale contains higher radiation levels than similar shale formations.



Randy Moyer hasn’t been able to work in 14 months. He’s seen more than 40 doctors, has 10 prescriptions to his name and no less than eight inhalers stationed around his apartment. Moyer said he began transporting brine, the wastewater from gas wells that have been hydraulically fractured, for a small hauling company in August 2011. He trucked brine from wells to treatment plants and back to wells, and sometimes cleaned out the storage tanks used to hold wastewater on drilling sites. By November 2011, the 49-year-old trucker was too ill to work. He suffered from dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, difficulty breathing, swollen lips and appendages, and a fiery red rash that covered about 50 percent of his body. “It’s time to move if you want to live,” he said. “Stay if you want to die. And I want to live.”


16. GAO Releases Gas Pipeline Safety Report

            “The report comes a month after a 20-inch line owned by Columbia Gas Transmission ruptured in West Virginia, triggering a massive fire. The Dec. inferno destroyed four homes and charred a section of Interstate 77 , 15 miles north of Charleston.

            Federal investigators say it took Columbia Gas Transmission, a subsidiary of Texas-based NiSource Gas Transmission & Storage, more than an hour to manually shut off the gas that fueled the fire, which sent flames as high as nearby hilltops.”







17. North Carolina Setting Fracking Rules- 5000 feet

            “NC may be discussing the most stringent standards in the nation for well water testing before drilling and fracking get under way. They are proposing that a drilling company, at its own expense, test every water source within 5,000 feet of a natural gas wellhead.

            Other states generally require testing within 1,000 or 2,000 feet, said Hannah Wiseman, a law professor at Florida State University who tracks fracking laws and rules.

            Commissioner Amy Pickle said the 5,000-foot testing distance is just one of several factors. Another important issue the commission will have to decide is what constituents it will require testing for.

            Commissioner Howard said the board also will discuss injecting tracers into fracked gas wells to help determine whether the wells are leaking chemicals and methane gas. He said the commission is guided by the state law passed last summer that holds drillers responsible for any water contamination within 5,000 feet of a wellhead unless they can prove otherwise.

            “The beauty of a presumptive liability law is that it protects companies from paying for bad water they didn’t cause,” Duke University environmental scientist Robert Jackson said. “It protects homeowners in case their water quality changes.”

            Duke University also has tested about 55 private wells in Lee County to establish baseline quality measures. Duke’s testing analyzes the presence of such metals as boron and arsenic, salts and methane gas, such chemicals as benzene and toluene, as well as radioactive elements.”

(Read more here:


18. Scientist Who Worked for Oil/Gas Sues Encana-Canada

            “Jessica Ernst, a scientist who worked as a consultant for the oil and gas industry, gained notoriety beginning in 2005 when she demonstrated how she could ignite the tap water in her home that was fine when she moved there in 1998. Testing confirmed elevated levels of methane, the main component in natural gas.

            She told environmental journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, in a 2006 article for Canadian Business magazine, she suspected drilling and fracking for CBM had “aggravated” an existing problem: Natural gas migration from shallow wells and older wells due to unprecedented drilling activity.

            Encana was adamant: The company’s testing showed its wells did not cause Ernst’s water woes.

The $33-million lawsuit “effectively puts on trial the practice and regulation of hydraulic fracturing.” said Klippenstein, Ernst’s Toronto-based lawyer.

            The dry subject matter involving a half-dozen grey-suited lawyers didn’t deter about 70 people — many of them farmers from central Alberta — from cramming into the courtroom. The court clerk had to corral extra chairs to accommodate all the onlookers.

Jessica Ernst On You Tube- The Consequences of Fracking (6:58)



19. Stiles Family’s Health Problems      

“Judy Armstrong Stiles had no idea what she was signing away when she and her husband Carl leased with Chesapeake Energy three years ago.

            Soon after the company started fracking, both she and her husband began suffering severe rashes, stomach aches, dizziness, fatigue, aching joints and forgetfulness, Stiles told Shalefield Stories in November 2012.

            “We saw doctors who tried to figure out what was wrong with us,” she said. “Our symptoms mirrored so many other diseases and disorders. The doctors could not figure out what the problem was, and our health kept deteriorating.”

A few months later, a large hole that gave off a terrible smell and leaked a foam-like substance opened in their front yard. Then their daughter moved in and soon she, too, was sick.

            Stiles said they paid to have their water tested -- water Stiles said was yellow and odorous. The test showed their water was contaminated with lead, methane, propane, ethane, barium, magnesium, strontium and arsenic. They called the PA DEP, which made a “visual determination” that their water contained methane.

“We felt that we finally had proof that our health problems were a result of some sort of contamination.”

            Stiles then requested a blood test from her doctors; they found barium and arsenic. But the doctors, Stiles said, couldn’t treat her because they didn’t know what else was in her blood. Chesapeake, along with other energy companies, is not required to disclose the chemicals in the fluids used for hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking.

            The family soon abandoned their home and moved in with relatives, unable to sell their house. Radon tests came back, Stiles said, showing radon gas in the air around their home. Trace amounts of radium-226, radium-228 and uranium were found in the home’s water.

            In February 2011, Carl was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. Their daughter, then pregnant, had seizures and lead poisoning. “I’d like to say that after moving out, our health improved, but it did not,” Stiles said. Her daughter still has seizures and cannot work or drive. Carl, his health rapidly deteriorating, killed himself.

            “I don’t blame him -- he was in too much pain, and his doctors could not help him,” Stiles said. “I lost my home, my health and my husband. I want hydraulic fracturing stopped.”

From article By Rachel Morgan



photos by bob donnan




Two Check Lists—What to Ask before Signing A Lease

(The lists are lengthy. I copied list 2, see the link for list 1  jan)

List 1.  From Un- natural gas

            The answers to many of these questions should be written into your lease. Verbal assurances offer no legal protection for you. Have the Landman number and initial every page. Make photocopies of the lease. If the lease returned to you has any missing pages, cancel it immediately via certified mail, and notify the NYS Attorney General’s Office.



From Fort Worth area.



Where will the pad site be?

How big will the pad site be?

How many gas wells are planned for this pad?

Is there potential for additional pad sites in my neighborhood

Besides the "christmas tree" what other equipment will be installed on the pad site?

Is there an existing pipeline associated with this pad site?

If not, will the pipeline be located within the neighborhood boundaries?

Will the pipeline company need to access my surface property?

Will there be a reserve pit associated with this pad site?

Will there be a compression station associated with this pad site?

Will there be a compression station within one mile of the neighborhood boundaries?

What is the anticipated life term for this pad site?

When will the pad site be restored to its original condition?



How will trucks access the pad site?

Is there a plan for egress available to the neighborhood?

Will water be trucked in and wastewater trucked out from this pad site?


                THE ENVIRONMENT:



Where can I find a reliable report that illustrates how much water is used during drilling?

Can wastewater be used for fracturing?

Why is recycling of wastewater not required?

Where can I find an industry report that measures the number of times a well requires fracturing?

Where does the water used for gas drilling come from?

How will years of drilling affect the water table?

How do energy companies pay for water usage?

How is water usage metered when it is taken directly from the river?

Does drilling production stop during drought conditions?

Who monitors drill sites near the river?

Are drill sites exempt from the storm water run-off ordinance?

How is the river protected from storm water run-off on sites with reserve pits that are near the river?

Is wastewater considered a toxic by-product?

How is wastewater disposed of?

Are there studies that show that deep well injection of wastewater it safe?


              AIR QUALITY

Where can I find an environmental report that shows the effects of gas drilling on quality of air?

Does Fort Worth meet air quality standards for ozone?

Is the City fined for not meeting air quality standards?

Does gas drilling contribute poor air quality?

Who bears the burden for paying fines?

How are drilling operations monitored for air pollution violations?

Who monitors drill sites for air pollution violations?

What is flaring and how does it contribute to air quality in the city limits?

Has there been a study to gauge how the impact of increased truck traffic will affect air quality?



Is there a City of Fort Worth infrastructure impact study for urban gas drilling?

How are the negative effects to city infrastructure measured?

When roads and bypasses are damaged by truck traffic in neighborhoods, is the city compensated?

Who bears the financial burden of street repair?

Has the City excluded gas companies from city ordinances regarding infrastructure?


            SOIL POLLUTION

How is area soil surrounding the drill pad site protected from contaminants used during drilling?

How are reserve pits monitored?

Who monitors reserve pits at a drill pad site?

How is the soil protected from reserve pit run-off, leaks, or spills?

How are reserve pits cleaned up?

Are companies required to submit a soil remediation plan for a drill site in the event of soil contamination?

How is contaminated soil disposed of?

What are the effects of drilling contaminants on soil and plants?


            GREEN SPACES

Does the City of Fort Worth have a plan to protect green spaces?

Why are drilling companies excluded from the Tree Ordinance?

How is the city protecting City Parks?

How will the city measure the impact of drilling sites next to or near city parks?

Will compression stations be located next to or near city parks?

Will pipelines access city parks?

Are there studies that document long term effects on trees, plants, soil quality and wildlife near drill sites?


                LEGAL ISSUES


What do the lease terms mean?

Once I sign a lease when do the terms of my lease expire?

When I lease my minerals, what does that include?

Am I leasing more than just natural gas?

When do my remaining minerals belong to me again?

When drilling is completed will my remaining minerals and property be restored to one account?

Will a fluctuating natural gas market affect the production of this well?

Will the energy company guarantee due diligence in producing minerals from this well?

If the production of this well ceases for a period of time, will the well be capped and the pad site restored?

As the mineral owner, am I protected from legal action in case of an accident?

Is there a "hold harmless" article in my contract?




Is my bonus check subject to income tax?

Are my royalty checks subject to income tax?

I understand that I will pay an additional tax through the Tarrant Appraisal District.  What is the rate of that tax?

Will that account be set up as a Business Account?

Will I be taxed annually on the value of my minerals?

Will I only be obligated to pay this tax on produced gas?

If I choose not to sign a lease will I pay tax on my minerals?

Once drilling ceases is my business account closed?


            OTHER FEES

I understand that I may be responsible for fees associated with my mortgage.  Is the energy company able to negotiate subrogation fees with my mortgage company?

Will I be responsible for paying additionally for a title search?

Will production costs (legal, transportation, advertising and other production related costs) be taken from the top before I receive my royalty payment?


                OTHER ISSUES

Are there studies the report the impact on the market value of my home if there is a gas pad site near my home?

Will I expect a rise in homeowner’s insurance if my home is near a gas pad site?




How has the city prepared for a drilling accident?

Is there an evacuation plan available for the neighborhood in case of accident?

Have Fort Worth Fire and Police Departments trained for disasters related to gas drilling in an urban environment?

Is there evidence that the 600’ set-back is adequate to protect property and families?

What is a typical blast radius for a gas well explosion?

How can I assure that waivers to the City’s 600’ setback, as detailed in the Gas Drilling Ordinance, are not permitted in my neighborhood?

Who is responsible for damage to my property in case of an accident involving gas wells?

How do neighbors contact the company with complaints of excessive noise, obtrusive lights and dangerous truck activity?

What are my legal rights to preserve a reasonable quality of life during the life of the well?



How has the City protected the quality of life for all citizens in the City of Fort Worth?

How has the city protected neighborhoods that lack the resources to negotiate leases that are equitable to leases in affluent neighborhoods?

Does the city provide a standard for the aesthetic quality of a pad site for all neighborhoods?

Has the city effectively provided information about the impact of gas drilling to all citizens of



 Summa Canisters Used for Testing VOCs

Summa canisters are described and illustrated on the website:

“The term “SUMMA” Canister is a genericized trademark that refers to electropolished, passivated stainless steel vacuum sampling devices, such as TO canisters, SilcoCans, MiniCans, etc, which are cleaned, evacuated, and used to collect whole-air samples for laboratory analysis. The samples can be analyzed using methods such as EPA Method TO-15 for VOCs, ASTM Method D-1946 for Methane and other hydrocarbons, and a host of other methods for other parameters.










Letter to the Editor sent by Dorothy Bassett to the Observer Reporter: 

            I was very troubled to read the article indicating the Range wants to sue Robinson Township in order to push forward the drilling of two new well pads.  The reality of the matter is that Range’s documents included sound studies that showed that the planned well pads exceeded Robinson Township’s noise ordinances.  There were also other questions that the township supervisors, as well as a number of residents, had about the projects.  However, Range did not have a representative at the hearings held on January 14 about the proposed well pads  and so the questions remained unanswered.  Strangely, Range’s attorney, Shawn Gallagher, appeared prior to the meeting and sat among the residents, but stayed for only a few minutes then left before the hearing about the well pads even began.            

            As someone who did stay for the entirety of the Robinson Township hearings, I would have to say that the township supervisors proceeded in a very responsible way, raising the questions and issues that came up as they reviewed Range’s documents, and even asking if there were any Range representatives present to answer the questions.  The room was silent.  Even any leaseholders who might have been there with interests in the projects also remained silent.  The only people in the audience who spoke were those who had concerns about the proposed well pads – concerns about truck traffic, failure of the project to adhere to existing noise ordinances, air quality in the surrounding areas, and the like.

            Robinson Township’s supervisors acted in exemplary fashion throughout, and were very diligent in carrying out their responsibilities as elected officials.  Range, however, in apparent disregard for the process, failed to even appear either to advocate for their own interests or to respond to questions raised by the supervisors or area residents.  It is entirely likely that if Range had deigned to attend this hearing, that the questions could have been answered, the concerns could have been resolved, and the project could have gone on without difficulty.  (Recognize that Robinson Township already has active Range sites within it, indicating that Robinson Township supervisors have a history of approving well pads which were in compliance with local ordinances, and for which full information was provided.)

            Instead, Range, as part of an apparent and long-standing pattern of disregard and disrespect for local government bodies, failed to attend the hearing, and emailed their comments about the meeting – a meeting they did not even attend - to the O-R before the article of January 14 went to print.   It would appear that instead of wanting to avoid a lawsuit, Range was actually trying to behave in such a fashion as to give themselves an excuse to file a lawsuit.  By providing the township with incomplete information and by providing sound studies that indicated that the projects were in violation of local ordinances, and then by failing to attend the meeting and respond to questions, it appears that Range knew that the Robinson Township supervisors, in the responsible execution of their duties, would not approve the pads without the appropriate questions answered.  By having no one there to answer supervisors’ and residents’ questions, Range themselves hindered the approval process.  This, then raises the question – is this current situation and lawsuit truly about these two well pads, or instead, is it about attempting to punish a local governing body – Robinson Township – for being among the group of townships that took legal action in opposition to Act 13?


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
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