Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates March 7, 2013
To receive our news updates, please email jan at email@example.com
*For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
* To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information http://westmorelandmarcellus.blogspot.com/
* To discuss candidates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/VoteProEarth/
* To contact your state legislator:
For email address, click on the envelope under the photo
* For information on the state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
Calendar of Events
*** Fracking and Your Health, Public Health Perspectives Public Meeting
* What common health problems do residents experience?
* What are the sources of exposure?
* How can you reduce your exposure?
* What public health studies are being done?
Nadia Steinzor - Earthworks
Raina Rippel- Southwest PA Environmental Health Project
Linda Headley –member of a SW PA affected family
Dr. Ralph Miranda- Greensburg Physician, Speaker/Moderator
Where: Fred Rogers Center, Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, PA
When: Tuesday, March 19, 7:00-9:00 pm
Publicity-How you can help Thank you to many of you who have posted flyers for our March 19 health forum at St Vincent.
Please help us by copying the above information and:
--Posting the meeting on your face book site
--Sending out the notice to people on your email list and ask them to pass it on.
That action is incredibly helpful in getting the word out to people who are not on our mailing list. Jan
***County Commissioners Meeting- 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the county courthouse at 10:00
*** Marcellus Protest Frack Forum- March 9, 1:00 pm, at the Friends’ Meeting House in Shadyside. Updates and strategizing about upcoming campaigns, sharing information and ways to work together.
*** Earth Day Event-St Vincent College, April 22
For a full calendar of area events please see “Marcellus Protest” calendar:
***Tell President Obama that natural gas is not a climate change solution.
Our race to curb climate change will not be won with natural gas. Unfortunately, President Obama is under the impression fracking for natural gas is a climate solution.
Today, natural gas and oil production is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, second only to coal.1 Not only does more fracking mean more climate change pollution, but communities across the country will continue to suffer at the hands of profit-seeking natural gas companies. It's time to set the record straight.
Make your call today. Tell President Obama to protect our communities from fracking.
Thanks for all you do to protect the environment,
Director, Beyond Natural Gas Campaign
P.S. Please share this email with five friends and family so we send a strong message to President Obama.
Call the White House today at (202) 456-1111, and tell President Obama that natural gas is not a climate solution.
Natural gas is not a climate solution.
It's time to put the brakes on creating a fracking rush and exporting natural gas.
Protecting our communities' air and water should be the President's first priority.
If the line is busy, keep trying!
Help track our progress -- report your call below!
Oil and Gas Leases Create Conflicts for FEMA
Mystery, questions and concerns continue to surround Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) policies for testing water that has been suspected of being impacted by Marcellus Shale natural gas operations. These issues were originally brought to light when it was revealed that DEP doesn’t report full test results to residents, depriving them of critical health and safety information. People have a right to know ALL the results whether good or bad. Let the state know that you want them to release all water testing results from gas drilling investigations!
When we found out about DEP’s policies, Clean Water Action and a coalition of environmental groups sent a letter to Governor Tom Corbett and Secretary Michael Krancer criticizing the DEP’s policies as lacking transparency and inadequate to protect residents and drinking water. We called for immediate reforms to DEP’s procedures and demanded immediate disclosure of all data collected through DEP water tests. We were optimistic that we might finally get answers when Secretary Krancer suggested scheduling a meeting to discuss these issues. DEP however left us still in the dark and extremely disappointed when they abruptly cancelled the meeting.
DEP must provide Pennsylvanian’s with answers. DEP is entrusted to oversee and regulate the oil and gas industry in a manner that protects public health and the environment; water quality testing and enforcement are clearly a key part of this mission. We continue to ask DEP to reschedule the meeting and if nothing else, address the many questions surrounding their procedures (click here to see our most recent letter and list of questions). Help us apply pressure to DEP by emailing Governor Corbett and Secretary Krancer TODAY!
Tell them they need to reschedule their meeting with us and provide answers to the questions and concerns surrounding their water testing policies.
For Clean Water,
Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Campaign Coordinator
Continuing Medical Education Series on Shale Gas Development
The medical community's experience concerning the potential acute and chronic medical effects, injuries, and disabilities is limited. This results in professional practice gaps concerning the diagnosis and management of diverse toxicological effects and illnesses, and in competencies related to obtaining toxicological history and physical exams of patients. Additional gaps exist in the competent performance of risk communication and public health education for individuals and communities.
This series of online educational modules has been developed, prepared, and implemented by Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) and is jointly sponsored by the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY).
You can access this Veomed platform to obtain CME credit and for the highest quality viewing. While anyone can view these courses for free on VeoMed, you must register to do so. Alternatively, the videos can be accessed on Youtube.(Go to the PSE site to connect to You Tube)
Shale Gas: Module 1
1: Introduction to Shale Gas Extraction
Anthony Ingraffea, PhD, PE
2: Potential Health Impacts of Natural Gas Extraction
Jerome Paulson, MD
3: Impacts of Drilling on Human and Animal Health
Michelle Bamberger, DVM, MS & Robert Oswald, Phd
Shale Gas Module 2
1:Fundamental Chemical Toxicology with Exposure Related to Shale Gas Development David Brown, ScD
2: Endocrine Disruption Chemicals Adam Law, MD
3: Patient Evaluation Denise DeJohn, RN, MSN, CRNP
Shale Gas Module 3
1: Health Impact Assessment for Shale Gas Extraction
Larysa Dyrszka, MD
The Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (SWPA-EHP) has published a Medical Toolkit for medical professionals. The Toolkit consists of a series of interactive workshops focused on addressing patient concerns and symptoms related to gas extraction activities.
Physicians, Scientists, & Engineers for Healthy Energy
404 North Cayuga Street • Ithaca NY 14850
***Air Study Shows Regional Pollution Damages Are
Significant from Shale Operations
Study: “Estimation of regional Air Quality Damages from Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Extraction in Pennsylvania by Aviva Litovitz, Aimee Curtright, Shmuel Abramzon, Nicholas Burger and Constantine Samaras
RAND Corporation, Published January 2013
“Damage costs were based on effects on physical health and environmental damages, including mortality, morbidity, crop and timber loss, visibility and effects on anthropogenic structures and natural ecosystems. The total cost of region- wide damage ranged from $7.2 million to $32 million dollars for 2011.
Emissions state- wide were only a few percent of total polluting emissions but in counties where activities are concentrated, NOx emissions from all shale gas activities were 20-40 times higher than allowable for a single minor source despite the fact that single gas facilities usually fall below the major source threshold for NOx.
*The authors did not consider damages from flaring as it is to be phased out by 2015. (A New York study estimates that flaring increases NOx and VOCs by 120%. PM 2.5 emissions increase by 250%)
*Compressor stations represent 60-75% of all extraction-associated damages. *VOCs, NOx, and PM 2.5 combined were responsible for 94% of total damages.
*10 PA counties constituted nearly 90% of wells in the state.
*Washington County had the highest damages, estimated at $1.2-8.3 million. * Damage in Washington County represents about 20% of damage statewide
*66 to 80% of damages are attributable to long-term activities
County Damages- 2011
Westmoreland County Damages—low of $319,802 to high of $1,826,057
Washington County- low of $1,296,604 to high of $8,306, 931
Fayette County-$226,871 to high of $804, 966
Butler County-- low of $127, 217 to high of $533, 192
Allegheny County- low of – $22, 071 high of $133,172
For the data charts and information on counties:
***DEP Chided at Hearing in Washington County
Part 1 - http://youtu.be/m7QB_I01Sls
Part 2 - http://youtu.be/RPEYKIhxnQw
Part 3 - http://youtu.be/ZPiw3KAN8jI
Part 4 - http://youtu.be/3Dj06NR6KGs
Part 5 - http://youtu.be/EPnfh_M0Jpk
***Residents of Wyoming County Complain About Compressor-Dehydration Facility
Residents complain of noise levels and want to know what they are breathing.
***Triple Divide: Fracking Documentary Premieres-Melissa Troutman and Joshua Pribanic
Pribanic and Troutman take audiences on a cradle-to-grave journey to uncover how DEP and industry have handled violations within Pennsylvania’s highest classified watersheds, what happened in the 2011 Bradford County Blowout, water contamination complaints, health issues, and the split-estate landowner dispute.
“Of the five films I have seen on fracking (Split Estate, Gasland, Promised Land, Fracknation, Triple Divide) this one is the best at showing a slice of the all-too-real and desperate situation as it relates to water and fracking,” said Robert Donnan, who took part in a Pittsburgh test-screening in February.
Both filmmakers, who also co-founded the investigative news non-profit Public
For clips of the film and more, visit www.tripledividefilm.org, and go to the Video page. Also, follow PH’s Twitter, or Facebook to stay informed about Triple Divide — and #TripleDivide for reference on twitter.
**For images of the film please see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29184238@N06/sets/72157632806240125/ — to use an image simply click on the image, go to ‘view all sizes’ in the upper right hand corner, choose a size, and drag and drop or right click to save the image. Credit photos: Joshua B. Pribanic.
We'd be happy to answer any questions you have.
Melissa Troutman & Joshua Pribanic
Managing Editor & Editor-in-Chief
Length: Approximately 90 minutes
Filming locations: Pennsylvania (primarily north central Pa.)
Narration: Melissa Troutman, Mark Ruffalo
Producers: Joshua Pribanic, Melissa Troutman
Music: Nest, Gustav Holst, Sean Pribanic
DVD: Available at the end of March 2013
Triple Divide website:
1. Blaine Lucas Leaves Babst Calland Law Firm to Agitate for Range
From the Observer Reporter:
“The gloves were definitely off Monday night when Range Resources attorney Blaine A. Lucas addressed Cecil Township supervisors.
The township’s relationship with Range has been tense for some time because of various issues, including lawsuits Range filed against the township’s oil and gas zoning ordinance.
On Dec. 6, the two held a workshop meeting to improve their relationship, after Range canceled a previous meeting when state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, posted information about it on his Facebook page. Range was concerned a large turnout would disrupt the discussion.
Lucas said he was now coming before supervisors about the township’s Jan. 2 letter to the state DEP regarding the Worstell Impoundment on Swihart Road. The letter, which was submitted for the township by attorney William R. Miller, contends Range failed to obtain proper approvals for the original use and construction of the impoundment and never provided the township with plans for it.
“Cecil Township understands that Range Resources originally constructed the Worstell Impoundment to serve gas wells on two well pads located beside the impoundment, but that Range Resources now desires to expand their use to serve wells located on other property and for general wastewater storage,” the letter reads.
Miller also wrote, “Cecil Township did not issue a permit for the original use, and Range Resources has failed to apply for approval to expand the use.”
Supervisor Tom Casciola said the township did not independently contact DEP but instead was asked by the agency to express concerns about Range’s intentions for the impoundment.
“Why didn’t you just call and ask us?” Lucas stated. “The township has done nothing but stonewall our efforts.”
Lucas also questioned Supervisor Andy Schrader’s recent statements at a Robinson Township board of supervisors’ meeting in which he reportedly said Range could not be trusted.
In response to the township’s letter to the DEP, Lucas said Range filed a request with the state’s Office of Open Records asking the township to turn over documents relating to any discussion regarding the matter and the hiring of Miller as legal counsel.
“You won’t find it in any meeting minutes. I looked,” Lucas said. “You, as a board, are running amok.”
Supervisor Elizabeth Cowden said she did not know about Miller’s hiring but she did know that it wasn’t done at an open meeting.
“I asked the board to sit down and talk with Range,” said Cowden.
At times during the lengthy discussion, conversation became heated between the supervisors and Lucas.
It was Supervisor Michael Debbis, board chairman, who seemed to calm the storm by stating that the township wants an open dialogue with Range and would rather work with them than fight them. Lucas said Range would like that also.”
by Linda MetzStaff Writer
Editorial from local Washington, Pa newspaper, the Observer-Reporter….
2. More on Range Resources--Not making Friends, Influencing People
Blaine Lucas Berates Officials
Editorial From the Observer Reporter
“There’s an old saying that you can catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar. Some of the folks in the Marcellus Shale industry in our area seem to be straying further and further from that axiom. The relationships between local elected officials and representatives of Range Resources have become especially fractious of late.
In Robinson Township, the gas driller has taken the township to court over supervisors’ refusal to approve applications for a couple of new operations there. Township officials say Range has not provided sufficient documentation for the proposed gas wells. Range says that’s simply not the case. What is the truth? We don’t know. Perhaps the court will be able to sort that out. But the level of vitriol, particularly on Range’s part, doesn’t help to resolve anything.
The latest exchange of harsh words occurred earlier this week in Cecil Township. Range sent one of its attorneys to the supervisors’ meeting, and he ended up berating township officials, essentially for cooperating with a request from the state Department of Environmental Protection to address the township’s concerns about a Range impoundment on Swihart Road.
The township’s attorney, William R. Miller, told the DEP in a letter that Range had failed to obtain proper approval for the initial construction and use of the impoundment, nor for its expanded use, and also did not provide the township with plans for it. In part, the letter read, “Cecil Township understands that Range Resources originally constructed the Worstell Impoundment to serve gas wells on two well pads located beside the impoundment, but that Range Resources now desires to expand their use to serve wells located on other property and for general wastewater storage.”
As far as Range is concerned, that sort of cooperation with the agency that oversees gas-drilling operations in the state apparently is out of bounds. “Why didn’t you just call and ask us?” said Range attorney Blaine A. Lucas. “The township has done nothing but stonewall our efforts.” The fact that Range already has undertaken more than a few drilling operations in Cecil Township would seem to indicate that Lucas, to put it kindly, was twisting the truth. He also noted that Range has filed a request with the state Office of Open Records to require the township to surrender any documents pertaining to the impoundment issue and the hiring of Miller as counsel. “You won’t find it in any meeting minutes. I looked,” Lucas said. “You, as a board, are running amok.”
This kind of language certainly doesn’t bode well for future relations between the parties, but township officials have the right, at least currently, to use existing zoning laws to make sure citizens are well-served by any decisions made about gas drilling in their backyards. The gas industry had hoped to change that with Act 13, but the state Commonwealth Court threw a monkey wrench into those efforts by striking down the zoning provisions of the new gas-drilling law. The matter is now before the state Supreme Court, and we have expressed before our hope that the high court upholds the prior ruling, which found that the law’s zoning provisions were unconstitutional because they prevented municipalities from controlling drilling operations through use of their own regulations.
While we always have recognized the great economic benefits of natural gas drilling in our region, there must be limits on how the drilling companies can operate, and dispatching attorneys who browbeat local officials benefits no one. Drilling companies should not be allowed to run roughshod over local elected officials. If Range or any other drilling company is not satisfied with the decisions of township supervisors, they can seek redress in the courts, as Range has in the Robinson case. But the company should show some respect for those chosen by the residents of the townships to look out for their best interests.” http://www.observer-reporter.com/article/20130306/OPINION01/130309540/-1/opinion
3. Private Treatment Plants Expanding in Marcellus Region
“About 4 million gallons of water go into a typical Marcellus well during the fracking process. As much as 20% of what went in comes back out right away. That’s what’s known as flowback water. Over the life of a producing well, more than a million gallons comes out, and after the initial flowback, the rest is known as produced water.
In Pennsylvania, treating that water for metals and total dissolved solids and radioactive materials at public treatment plants has caused problems. Hydrofracking is on hold in New York while the Department of Health reviews its potential health impacts. If New York permits the controversial drilling technique, one of the obstacles is how to handle the huge amounts of wastewater produced by each fracked well. In Pennsylvania, drillers are increasingly using private treatment plants as a way to deal with all that waste.”
Story & Audio:
4. Beaver Falls Water Authority Never Notified of Illegal Dumping
“When officials failed to immediately inform the public of the illegal dumping of thousands of gallons of fracking wastewater in Youngstown, Ohio, last month, they also failed to do something else -- notify those downstream.
The first municipal treatment plant downstream of the spill is the Beaver Falls Municipal Authority, which provides water for 17,000 customers in 22 communities in Beaver County, and Zelienople.
The Beaver Falls Municipal Authority has long struggled with its susceptibility to contamination from hazardous river spills, so it closely monitors reports of any incidents.
However, authority general manager Jim Riggio said they did not get that chance with the recent dumping of fracking wastewater and drilling mud into a tributary that feeds the Mahoning River. The river converges with the Shenango River to form the Beaver River, from where the authority draws its water.
Riggio said Thursday that officials did not warn the authority.
“We weren’t even aware of it until after the fact,” Riggio said.
He said by the time his people became aware of what had happened Jan. 31 it was far too late because the contaminated water would have already passed through. Riggio pointed out that his authority is the first intake on the river below the dump area and should have been notified.”
For the entire article: http://www.timesonline.com/news/local_news/beaver-falls-water-authority-never-notified-of-illegal-dumping/article_4bf0efdb-8eb2-5998-ae59-454b2ba73216.html
And from the Triblive:
Beaver County Unaware Of Potential Threat to Drinking Water
(Benzene Toluene in Water, jan)
By Timothy Puko
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 9:38 p.m.
“Several state and federal agencies failed to communicate about a threat to drinking water in Beaver County last month, raising questions about emergency communication across state lines, officials and experts said.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the state police, the region's U.S. Coast Guard district and 15 other agencies received notice within 24 hours of illegal dumping Jan. 31 that Ohio investigators witnessed in Youngstown, federal records show. It appears in the days that followed none of them told the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection or two Beaver County drinking water suppliers downstream, state officials said.
The pollution probably diluted in the Mahoning River, but investigators don't fully know the extent of the risk, said Chris Abbruzzese, a spokesman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
The communication breakdown led to finger-pointing among agencies and frustrated local officials across Beaver County, where 17,000 customers drink the water. Pennsylvania officials blamed Ohio for using only the National Response Center to send alerts out of state. The DEP was not signed up to receive alerts from the NRC, a federal agency primarily responsible only for notifying other federal responders, its operations officer Lt. Andrew Kennedy said.
Agencies in both states and the federal agencies in the region all deserve some blame, said Louise Comfort, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Disaster Management. DEP officials should have known and been signed up for the alerts, but other agencies should have passed critical information to DEP officials, she said.
The problem stems from Youngstown's Hardrock Excavating LLC. Federal prosecutors indictedthe company, its owner and another worker last week, accusing them of dumping brine and oil-based drilling mud in a Mahoning River tributary from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31. Samples showed signs of the carcinogen benzene along with toluene and chlorides in public water, Abbruzzese said.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/3600898-74/beaver-state-agencies#ixzz2My0xtSvK
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/3600898-74/beaver-state-agencies#ixzz2Mxznvs7U
5. Robert Kennedy Jr. and Gov. Cuomo Discuss Fracking
Health Study Awaited
( New York’s Governor Cuomo’s move to await studies highlights the fact that Gov. Corbett requested no health studies prior to pushing fracking in PA and, in fact, cut the funding for health studies in PA.)
“The turning point, which could delay a decision for up to a year or longer, came in a series of phone calls with Kennedy. The two discussed a new health study on fracturing …
"I think the issue suddenly got simple for him," Kennedy told the AP, then went on to paraphrase Cuomo in their discussions: "If it's causing health problems, I really don't want it in New York state. And if it's not causing health problems, we should figure out a way we can do it.'"
Kennedy believes Cuomo held off in large part because of the prospect of a new $1 million study by the Geisinger Health System of Pennsylvania, billed by property owners seeking safe fracking and environmentalists as a "large-scale, scientifically rigorous assessment" of drilling in Pennsylvania.
The study will look at detailed health histories of hundreds of thousands of patients who live near wells and other facilities that are producing natural gas from the same Marcellus Shale formation that New York would tap.
Unlike most studies funded by advocates or opponents of hydrofracking, this study would be funded by the Sunbury, Pa.-based Degenstein Foundation, which is not seen as having an ideological bent.
Sandra Steingraber, a biologist and founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking, said Saturday, "As Health Commissioner Shah said, the right time to study fracking is before fracking begins. We expect that Governor Cuomo will listen to scientists and medical experts and let evidence dictate whether or not to lift our state's moratorium, and we further expect that he will wait for national studies and a real New York-specific study."
"I think it will be pivotal," Kennedy said. Preliminary results are expected within the year, but there is no specific timetable and final results could be years off. Kennedy is opposed to fracking unless it can be proven to be safe for the environment and public. He said he's unsure what the Geisinger report will conclude.
"What's interesting is Andrew is trying to figure this out," Kennedy said. "It's interesting to see this ... that usually doesn't happen. (Most governors) take a poll, or they take industry money and just do it ... but I think this is the harder route."
6. Energy- In- Depth Writer Attacks Area Supervisor
According to news reports, Range Resources did not receive the permit it requested in Robinson Township based on the lack of information provided to township supervisors. Joe Massaro of Energy- in- Depth (the Independent Petroleum Assoc. of America’s website), wrote an article attacking Coppola, publishing pictures of his home and information referring to his personal finances. Range has been criticized in the media for its bullying tactics.
Here’s what the Bloomberg News had to say about Range’s bullying tactics:
“When a Texas landowner took his fear that a gas driller had poisoned his well to federal regulators, the company, Range Resources Corp., turned around and sued him for conspiring “to harm Range.”
Critics say the Fort Worth-based company, which pioneered the use of hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale, has taken a hard line with residents, local officials and activists. In one case it threatened a former EPA official with legal action; in another it stopped participating in town hearings to review its own applications to drill, because local officials were asking too many questions and taking too long.
“Range Resources is different from its peers in that it chooses to severely punish its critics,” said Calvin Tillman, the former mayor of Dish, Texas, and an activist who has been subpoenaed and issued legal warnings by Range. “Most companies avoid the perception of the big-bad-bully oil company, while Range Resources embraces it.” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-19/texas-fracker-accused-of-bully-tactics-against-foes.html
7. 18 PA Homeowners Are Denied Hazard Mitigation Assistance Due To Oil/Gas Leases
“Tropical Storm Lee caused historic flooding across a wide swath of PA last year. Over 100,000 state residents were displaced by the floods. Some affected areas, like Susquehanna County and Wyoming County, are home to Marcellus shale’s fast-and-furious drilling.
According to agency emails, at least 18 homeowners in Pennsylvania have been denied access to the Hazard Mitigation program because of oil and gas leases or pipeline rights-of-ways on their properties.
“When a landowner signs an oil and gas lease, part of the rights to use the surface of the property transfer from the landowner to the oil company,” wrote Michael C. Hill, a FEMA attorney in a June 14 email to a Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency official. “The landowner and the oil company now co-own the rights to use the surface of the property and the oil company owns all of the oil and gas under the property.”
“Thus the landowner alone cannot transfer all of the surface rights nor the oil and gas rights,” he added, explaining that this prevents landowners with leases from meeting FEMA’s standards for purchasing land because oil and gas development is not allowed on land that FEMA purchases to protect open space and flood plains.
Mr. Hill lists seven properties, including those owned by Oakland Township, which he says do not meet federal standards for the flood zone program.
Other agency documents reviewed by DeSmogBlog indicate that other property owners in Pennsylvania have been similarly turned down.”
8. Pennsylvania Fails to Cite Drillers for Well Violations
“According to a white paper delivered to New York state regulators by Cornell engineering professor, Anthony Ingraffea. Inspection data from PA indicate that over 150 Marcellus shale wells in Pennsylvania had severe flaws that have led to sometimes large leaks and yet the operators of those wells were never issued violations by regulators
By failing to cite drillers when things go wrong, Pennsylvania environmental regulators have for the past three years obscured the rate at which Marcellus wells leak, creating a falsely optimistic picture. Leaks at dozens of wells were described by state inspectors in their report notes, but violations were never issued. If analysts relied on data about violations alone, it would seem that 6.2 percent of wells drilled in 2010 failed. In fact, the rate was 6.9%, according to notes in inspection reports, leaving a difference of 0.7%. By 2011,a full 1 percent of well failures were going uncited. For the first half of 2012, the DEP’s violation data showed a 7.2% rate of well failures, while a review of inspection reports shows an 8.9% failure rate for the full year. Put another way, Pennsylvania officials discovered that 76 Marcellus wells drilled in 2012 lost integrity but never cited drillers for these problems.”
9. U.S. Approves Natural-Gas Tax Breaks
“The U.S. government has cleared the way for up to $490 million in tax incentives for both fleets and manufacturers to help spur demand for natural-gas powered trucks. Congress cleared the way for $340 million in refunds when it passed the tax measure known as the “fiscal cliff” bill at the start of 2013, while the U.S. Depart. of Transportation and the Treasury have approved $150 million in incentives for equipment makers.
The congressional bill renewed an expired 50-cent tax credit per gasoline-gallon equivalent of compressed natural gas and a 50-cent credit per gallon of liquefied natural gas. Whoever owns the natural gas put into a vehicle earns the tax credit. A second program allows for a tax credit of up to $30,000 for investing in a natural-gas fueling station or for adding equipment there. Meanwhile, those who are building equipment powered by the fuel can take advantage of $150 million in tax credits for clean energy and energy efficiency manufacturing projects.”
10. Livestock Sick in Fracking Regions Raising Concerns About Food
By Elizabeth Royte for the Food and Environment Reporting Network
“In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying. While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in “fracking” operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil.
Earlier this year, Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, published the first and only peer-reviewed report to suggest a link between fracking and illness in food animals.
The authors compiled 24 case studies of farmers in six shale-gas states whose livestock experienced neurological, reproductive, and acute gastrointestinal problems after being exposed—either accidentally or incidentally—to fracking chemicals in the water or air. The article, published in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, describes how scores of animals died over the course of several years.
The death toll is insignificant when measured against the nation’s livestock population (some 97 million beef cattle go to market each year), but environmental advocates believe these animals constitute an early warning.
Exposed livestock “are making their way into the food system, and it’s very worrisome to us,” Bamberger says. “They live in areas that have tested positive for air, water, and soil contamination. Some of these chemicals could appear in milk and meat products made from these animals.”
In Louisiana, 17 cows died after an hour’s exposure to spilled fracking fluid--the most likely cause of death: respiratory failure.
In New Mexico, hair testing of sick cattle that grazed near well pads found petroleum residues in 54 of 56 animals.
In northern central Pennsylvania, 140 cattle were exposed to fracking wastewater when an impoundment was breached. Approximately 70 cows died, and the remainder produced only 11 calves, of which three survived.
In western Pennsylvania, an overflowing wastewater pit sent fracking chemicals into a pond and a pasture where pregnant cows grazed: Half their calves were born dead. Dairy operators in shale-gas areas of Colorado, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Texas have also reported the death of goats.
Drilling and fracking a single well requires up to 7 million gallons of water, plus an additional 400,000 gallons of additives, including lubricants, biocides, scale- and rust-inhibitors, solvents, foaming and defoaming agents, emulsifiers and de-emulsifiers, stabilizers and breakers. At almost every stage of developing and operating an oil or gas well, chemicals and compounds can be introduced into the environment.
After drilling began just over the property line of Jacki Schilke’s ranch in northwestern North Dakota, cattle began limping, with swollen legs and infections. Cows quit producing milk for their calves, and they lost from 60 to 80 pounds in a week and their tails mysteriously dropped off. Eventually, five animals died, according to Schilke.
Ambient air testing by a certified environmental consultant detected elevated levels of benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene, and xylene—and well testing revealed high levels of sulfates, chromium, chloride, and strontium. Schilke says she moved her herd upwind and upstream from the nearest drill pad.
Although her steers currently look healthy, she says, “I won’t sell them because I don’t know if they’re okay.”
Nor does anyone else. Energy companies are exempt from key provisions of environmental laws, which makes it difficult for scientists and citizens to learn precisely what is in drilling and fracking fluids or airborne emissions. And without information on the interactions between these chemicals and pre-existing environmental chemicals, veterinarians can’t hope to pinpoint an animal’s cause of death.
The risks to food safety may be even more difficult to parse, since different plants and animals take up different chemicals through different pathways.
“There are a variety of organic compounds, metals, and radioactive material [released in the fracking process] that are of human health concern when livestock meat or milk is ingested,” Motoko Mukai, a veterinary toxicologist at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says. These “compounds accumulate in the fat and are excreted into milk. Some compounds are persistent and do not get metabolized easily.”
Veterinarians don’t know how long chemicals may remain in animals, farmers aren’t required to prove their livestock are free of contamination before middlemen purchase them, and the Food Safety Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture isn’t looking for these compounds in carcasses at slaughterhouses.
Documenting the scope of the problem is difficult: Scientists lack funding to study the matter, and rural vets remain silent for fear of retaliation. Farmers who receive royalty checks from energy companies are reluctant to complain, and those who have settled with gas companies following a spill or other accident are forbidden to disclose information to investigators. Some food producers would rather not know what’s going on, say ranchers and veterinarians.
“It takes a long time to build up a herd’s reputation,” rancher Dennis Bauste of Trenton Lake, North Dakota, says. “I’m gonna sell my calves and I don’t want them to be labeled as tainted. Besides, I wouldn’t know what to test for. Until there’s a big wipe-out, a major problem, we’re not gonna hear much about this.”
Fracking proponents criticize Bamberger and Oswald’s paper as a political, not a scientific, document. “They used anonymous sources, so no one can verify what they said,” says Steve Everley, of the industry lobby group Energy In Depth. The authors didn’t provide a scientific assessment of impacts—testing what specific chemicals might do to cows that ingest them, for example—so treating their findings as scientific, he continues, “is laughable at best, and dangerous for public debate at worst.”
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the main lobbying group for ranchers, takes no position on fracking, but some ranchers are beginning to speak out. “These are industry-supporting conservatives, not radicals,” says Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst with the environmental group, Natural Resources Defense Council. “They are the experts in their animals’ health, and they are very concerned.”
Last March, Christopher Portier, director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called for studies of oil and gas production’s impact on food plants and animals. None are currently planned by the federal government.”
Food and Environment Reporting Network. Originally posted at http://thefern.org/2012/11/livestock-falling-ill-in-fracking-regions-raising-concerns-about-food/
Read more at http://livinggreenmag.com/2012/12/17/energy-ecology/livestock-falling-ill-in-fracking-regions-raising-concerns-about-food/#63BUjkMG9CBh84HV.99
11. Fracking Can Hurt Property Values of Nearby Homes With Water Wells
“Property owners near shale gas wells are liable to suffer a major loss in value because of worries over water contamination, according to economists from Duke University and the nonprofit research organization Resources for the Future.Their study found PA homeowners who use local groundwater for drinking lost up to 24 percent of their property value if they are within a mile and a quarter of a shale gas well.
But the news was far better for neighbors who get their water piped in. They saw values rise by nearly 11 percent, likely because of lease money from gas drillers and no worries about polluted water, the researchers found.
The researchers looked at property values of all homes in Washington County, Pa., near Pittsburgh. It’s an area at the heart of the shale gas revolution. They found just over 200 homes within a mile and a quarter of a shale gas well.
Ohio State University researchers came out with an earlier study, also in Washington County near Pittsburgh. They looked at a narrower time period – about two years rather than five – and suggested drilling had less of an impact on property values.
The Ohio State researchers found about a 4 percent drop in property value for households that rely on private well water within a mile of a shale gas well. The drop was bigger and lasted longer for more rural homes surrounded by farmland, according to the Ohio State researchers. They saw a dip of more than 7 percent in value.
“We find evidence that households are negatively impacted by shale gas exploration activity, but this impact largely depends on the proximity and intensity of shale activity and diminishes over time as risk perceptions adjust following the (end) of exploration activity,” they found.”
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/11/06/173814/fracking-can-hurt-property-values.html#storylink=cpy
The report: http://public.econ.duke.edu/~timmins/w18390.pdf
12. Idea for Philadelphia LNG Export Terminal Floated at Council Hearing
“Philadelphia’s deep water port and access to rail lines would make the city an ideal location for a liquefied natural gas terminal, industry representatives told City Council members on Wednesday. But they need to move fast. “Through some confidential discussions that we’ve had we know there’s a keen interest in Philadelphia as a location to export LNG,” said Mitchell Bormack, the vice president of TRC Engineering Services.. The discussion focused on how Philadelphia could take advantage of the Marcellus Shale drilling boom. “We’ve got an oversupply of gas here, and tremendous demand in Japan and India,” said Bormack.
With low domestic natural gas prices, and a glut of gas supplies due in large part to Marcellus Shale production, the industry has been pushing the Department of Energy to approve new export terminals to sell their product at higher prices overseas. Push-back has come from manufacturers, who are enjoying a resurgence due to both the cheap energy natural gas provides, as well as the less expensive raw materials for plastics, which come from natural gas liquids like propane and butane. Natural gas liquids or NGL’s are different from liquefied natural gas (LNG). Natural gas gets converted from its gaseous state to a liquid state in order to ship it overseas. The DOE is debating whether to allow new export terminals in the U.S., and has 16 pending applications.”
John Trallo posted this comment in response to the article:
“This is not about energy independence, never was, never will be. It's about multinational corporations reaping huge profits by selling this gas on the global market to the highest bidder. China, Norway, and India are the major investors in US shale gas and oil. As for it lowering pollution, not when you consider the CO2 emission during the extraction phase, and the tons of VOC's emitted from compressors stations. I would also like to point out that methane is 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2, and a greater threat to global warming. It is necessary to constantly vent or burn off methane to control the pressure during the life of a gas well.
In a USDOE study comparing the Marcellus and the Barnett shale plays, the Barnett has an approximate 50% drop-off rate in production every 12 to 14 months. The Marcellus has an approximate drop-off rate of 67% every 105 days. That means the Marcellus shale is much more dense and has less 'gas in place' (GIP) than the Barnett. So, in order to maximize Marcellus production, there will have to be more wells drilled in a closer proximity, and they will have to be re-stimulated (re-fracked) at twice the rate of those on the Barnett, making Marcellus gas more labor intensive, less cost efficient, and ultimately less profitable for landowners expecting to collect royalty payments, since the 'pre/post production costs are deducted from the landowners royalty share.
With the 'gas glut' in the US, it's not profitable for these companies to sell their product here, until the price goes up domestically to compete with the overseas markets. It's not an energy policy we're following, it's the standard corporate business model whose only goal is to increase shareholder profits and increase their bottom line. It should also be pointed out that oil and gas jobs are temporary, transient, high risk, and not what most people would consider 'family friendly' local jobs. It follows the classic 'boom/bust' economic cycle. Also, the jobs that are lost in tourism, agriculture, small businesses, real estate and new home construction will be gone forever. No one wants to live, farm, hunt, fish, camp, or vacation in an industrial zone. The 'boom' is always short-lived, and the 'bust' is always long-term, if not permanent.” -John Trallo
13. List of the Harmed
A group member comments: Next time someone tells you about Fracking's "Golden Opportunity," read them these names, from the List of the Harmed.
Charles E. Bevins III (DEAD),
Terry and Dustin Smith (DEAD),
Brian Norberg (DEAD),
Jeffery Todd Kinkaid (DEAD),
Paul C. Sherman (DEAD),
Stephanie Boggs (DEAD),
Jimmy Dale Deweber (DEAD),
Sandra Mora DeHerrera (DEAD),
Mike Krajewski (DEAD),
Elizabeth Mobaldi (DEAD),
David Chappel (DEAD),
Dennis Peterson (DEAD),
Roy and Amy Heady and their children (ALL DEAD);
Troy Orth (DEAD),
Adbal Audeh (DEAD),
Sharon Ward (DEAD),
Robert Blackcloud (DEAD),
Joseph “Jay” Buchanan, Jr (DEAD),
Chris Albert (DEAD),
Charles and Dorothy Harper and grandson (ALL DEAD),
Donald Allison (DEAD),
Carl Stiles (DEAD),
Glenda, Kirsten and Don Sumler (ALL DEAD),
Maggie Golden (DEAD),
Dustin Bergsing (DEAD),
Brian Wallace (DEAD),
Timothy Roth (DEAD),
Randy Baumann (DIED),
Jose Lara (DEAD)
The list is incomplete.
Video: List of the Harmed:
The List of the Harmed: