Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates March 15, 2013
* 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
Please post the meeting on your facebook site and bring a friend.
***County Commissioners Meeting- 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the county courthouse at 10:00
*** Fracking Hell-Link TV this Friday, March 15 10:30. A group member wrote that the program will be repeated Saturday evening from 6 to 9 pm.
*** Earth Day Event-St Vincent College, April 22
For a full calendar of area events please see “Marcellus Protest” calendar:
*** Immunity Bill Goes Too Far-Acid Mine Drainage for Fracking
(This bill was written as a way to encourage use of mine drainage for fracking by removing liability from companies but there are serious concerns about this complete lack of liability. jan)
A comment from an authority on water on this bill:
“Sadly, I think many environmental groups will look at this bill and say “We are finally going to be safe from liability when we construct a mine drainage treatment system.” and overlook the terrible Free Card given to industry. Hopefully, that will not be the case. And of course there is the financial side of this—being able to sell water to the industry from mine discharges that will provide funds to maintain mine drainage treatment systems that many NPOs have on-line. Since the state is short-sighted in providing funds for Operation and Maintenance of these hundreds of systems worth millions, groups are forced to look for ways to maintain them. Again, by rolling those needs in with industry’s desire to be liability-free, it could pit some environmental groups against others.”
“The Pennsylvania Senate could give drilling companies immunity – making it virtually impossible to hold them accountable to accidents and spills.
We all know the oil and gas industry has an atrocious record of spills and accidents in Pennsylvania -- granting them immunity for risky activity is the last thing we should do.
Tell our state senators to vote NO to letting gas drilling companies off the hook from their accidents and pollution in our communities.
Click here to take action: http://bit.ly/NoImmunityForFrackers
The information on the bill from PennEnvironment is below:
Senate Bill 411 is meant to motivate gas drillers to use highly contaminated water from Pennsylvania’s abandoned coalmines to frack. To sweeten the deal, the bill’s authors amend the “Good Samaritan” law to remove liability for gas drilling companies when they use this polluted water.
What could this mean?
• When drilling companies have spills or accidents, it may be virtually impossible to hold them accountable.
• If you own property adjacent to or downstream from one of these accidents, you couldn’t take actions to recover damages.
• And the bill is so vague that it’s even unclear if we could hold fracking companies accountable under existing laws if they chose to violate them.
A vote could take place as early as today, so it’s critical we email our state senators and tell them to stop this proposal dead in its tracks.
List of Problems with the Bill:
Page 2 Lines 10 to 19 (This allows mine drainage and pooling water to be added to a fresh water supply)
“Without limiting the foregoing, for purposes of water pollution abatement projects involving the use of mine drainage or mine pool water for hydraulic fracturing or other development of a gas well, industrial or other water supply or other beneficial use of the water, the term also includes land and water adversely affected by mining and left in an unreclaimed or inadequately reclaimed condition, or left discharging water pollution for which a treatment trust fund naming the department as the beneficiary of the trust has been established.”
Page 2 Line 30 and Page 3 Line 1-5 (This allows use of mine water, which is often radioactive and has other health threatening contaminants that can’t be removed to be used to irrigate fields, de-ice roads, be put into a fresh body of water to maintain or augment flow, etc.)
“’Other beneficial use.’ Any use of water for a purpose that produces any economic, environmental, ecological or other benefits, including irrigation, silvaculture, cooling water, flow maintenance and augmentation, consumptive use makeup, and any other use of water deemed to be beneficial use under common law.”
Page 4 Lines 17 to 20 (This definition allows a mining company, natural gas or oil company and anyone else who contracts with a permitted hauler of water/wastewater from hydraulic fracturing to be included under the term “owner or operator of a water pollution abatement project.”)
“’Water pollution abatement project operator.’ The owner or operator of a water pollution abatement project approved by the department, and a person acting as a contractor to the owner or operator of a water pollution abatement project.”
Page 5 Lines 15 to 30 and Page 6 Line 1 (Amends Section 8106 of Title 27, adding a subsection on liability limitation and exceptions – this would exclude a landowner who is paid by a mining company or drilling company to allow storage or use of mine water on his property from the liability protection, but the bill does not state who will notify the owner that he will forfeit the legal protection by accepting payment.)
“(a) General rule. –Except as specifically provided in subsections (b) and (c), a landowner who provides access to the land, without charge or other consideration, which results in the implementation of a reclamation project or a water abatement project:
(3) Shall be immune from liability for any cost incurred by a third party, injury to a third party or damage suffered by a third party, including a downstream riparian landowner, which arises out of or occurs as a result of a reclamation project or a water pollution abatement project.”
Page 6 Lines 3 to 14 (adds the following to indemnify various entities involved in the use of mine water – note “or other water supply” :)
“Mine water for beneficial uses.—Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, landowners, mine operators and water pollution abatement project operators that are involved in treating mine drainage or mine pool water from a permitted mining activity site or water pollution abatement project shall not be deemed to assume legal responsibility for or to incur liability with respect to a cost, injury or damage that arises out of or occurs in connection with the use of mine drainage, mine pool water or treated mine water in connection with the hydraulic fracturing process or other development of a gas well, industrial or other water supply or other beneficial us of the water.”
Page 6 Lines 20 to 30 and Page 7 Lines 1-3 (Additional removal of liability)
“(a) General rule.—Except as specifically provided in subsection (b), a water pollution abatement project operator or other person who provides equipment, funding, materials or services at no cost to the Commonwealth for a reclamation project or a water pollution abatement project or who implements any such project at no cost to the Commonwealth:
(1) Shall be immune from liability for any injury to or damage suffered by a person, including a downstream riparian landowner, which arises out of or occurs as a result of:
(i) The water pollution abatement facilities constructed or installed during the water pollution abatement project; and
(ii) A reclamation project or a water pollution abatement project.”
Page 7 Lines 15 to 26 (Removes classification of mine water as hazardous waste and its location as a hazardous site and allows removal of solid hazardous waste previously not allowed)
“May not be considered to be RELEASING A HAZARDOUS SUBTANCE OR CONTAMINANT UNDER THE ACT OF OCTOBER 18, 1988 (P.L. 756, No. 108), KNOWN AS THE HAZARDOUS SITES CLEANUP ACT, OR engaging in the processing, treatment or disposal of a solid waste under the act of July 7, 1980 (P.L. 380, No. 971, known as the Solid Waste Management Act, or in the discharge of industrial waste or pollutants under The Clean Stream Law, when using mine drainage, mine pool water or treated mine drainage for hydraulic fracturing or other development of a gas well, industrial or other water supply or other beneficial use of the water.”
Page 8 Lines 6 to 12 (This is extremely vague, but since “any economic benefit” is one of the “beneficial use” criteria, it should cover corporations that are involved in any abatement project see page 2 line 30 and pages 3 lines 1-5).
“(c) Exemptions. A person qualifying for immunity under this chapter, provided that the person’s actions comply with the water pollution abatement project as approved by the department, is not deemed to be releasing hazardous waste or hazardous substances and is not subject to enforcement under the Solid Waste Management Act or the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act.”
***PSE (Physicians, Scientists, & Engineers for Healthy Energy)
Continuing Medical Education Series on Shale Gas Development
Go to : http://www.psehealthyenergy.org/COURSES
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
Public Herald investigative journalists Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman announce the opening of Triple Divide. Triple Divide deconstructs the (DEP) handling of shale gas development.
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
*** Pipeline Maps
This is a link to dozens of images of US pipelines:
1. Range Sues Robinson
“Robinson Township supervisors meeting focused on a lengthy discussion of the lawsuit Range Resources filed against the township in January, with some residents concerned about a potential loss of gas revenues.
Brian Coppola, chairman of the supervisors, said there is little the township can do at the moment.
“It’s out of our hands right now. They sued us. Believe me, we’d love for them to come in and reapply, but that’s their choice. It’s not our choice,” Coppola. “I wish they’d come back tomorrow and reapply.”
Range claims Robinson Township supervisors are deliberately refusing to make decisions on applications to drill on a 167.5-acre parcel owned by Michelle F. Parees and Robert M. Frame and on an 84-acre parcel owned by Rodger C. and Susan C. Kendall on Valley View Road in Bulger.
Supervisors contend they rejected the wells because Range hadn’t properly answered questions about site plans and noise standards.
Coppola said the township will publish a newsletter in the next month or two to update residents about drilling issues and other township issues. According to Coppola, the newsletter will help minimize “misinformation” regarding drilling. The township also is working on a website that will be completed next month.”
2. Representative Jesse White on Range
“Not to single out one company, but doesn’t it seem odd that Range Resources is the only company dominating both local and national headlines regarding its aggressive tactics with local governments?' state Rep. Jesse White writes.
Last month, Robinson Township Board of Supervisors was forced to turn down two drilling permit applications when the drilling company, Range Resources, refused to submit an adequate sound study or site plan. This alone was bizarre, since Range’s lawyers were given multiple chances to correct the situation but didn’t; the lawyer refused to answer any questions at one hearing and refused to participate in another. Last week, a scathing personal attack against Robinson Supervisor Brian Coppola was published on the website of Energy In Depth (EID), a gas industry-funded public relations campaign founded by the Independent Petroleum Association of America in 2009.
During Coppola’s tenure, Robinson Township approved 32 consecutive drilling permits without denying any. Painting him as “anti-drilling” when his township is one of the most active drilling communities in the state is almost laughable. And just in case anyone thinks this is a purely political defense of Mr. Coppola, please note he and I belong to opposite political parties. This issue transcends political parties and has actually created real bipartisan cooperation among many elected officials from different political parties and levels of government who are not against drilling but want to see it done using the best practices possible so the economic benefits are long-lasting and sustainable for the region for decades to come. We were here before the first trucks rolled up from Texas and we’ll be here after the last one leaves, and we want to make sure we avoid the mistakes made from the coal era a century ago.”
For the entire story:
3. Woodlands Update
“In late 2011, the drinking water for about a dozen residents in the Woodlands, a rural community about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, began to change.
More recently residents with water problems were hopeful that the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry was looking at the issue. But last month the agency said it “is not actively investigating complaints from this area.” “I’m just very, very frustrated,” McIntyre said. So was John Stolz the director of the Duquesne University Center for Environmental Research in Pittsburgh. Stolz said state and federal agencies failed to do detailed reviews, so a Duquesne team has been monitoring water quality and surveying households in the Woodlands, in what is one of the most in-depth surveys of alleged impacts of gas drilling in the nation.
“We’ll see black water, we’ll see orange water, there’s often times an odor,” Stolz said. Overall, about 50 out of the 150 households in the community have complaints. “There are certain areas that clearly don’t have any problems,” Stoltz said. McIntyre said a water company is willing to bring a feed line to the edge of the community and put a pump house in. But the Woodlands residents would still need to form an association to manage and pay for water lines and hookups. Residents met in January with lawyers to discuss filing lawsuits.
Rex spokesman Derek Smith said, “In each case, the scientific analysis concluded that neither Rex Energy’s operations nor natural gas development impacted water quality”.
Yet Stoltz expects that ultimately his team’s research will provide a definitive answer for the Woodlands residents. The tests haven’t found any evidence of drilling chemicals in the water wells, but Stoltz said that even though no gas wells went directly under the Woodlands, the surrounding countryside is full of them. He said that while his team’s conclusions aren’t final, he believes that the recent gas drilling around the Woodlands has affected groundwater flows, thus indirectly causing problems for some people.”
4. Fracking Ban Final in Fort Collins
“The Fort Collins City Council voted to uphold the fracking ban within city limits by a vote of 5-2. The ban is now final.
This vote defies the governor and other state authorities who say local governments have no right to regulate the oil and gas industry. The state and Colorado Oil and Gas Association threatened lawsuits if Fort Collins’ ban on fracking became final.
“The Fort Collins City Council stood up to the bullies—Governor Hickenlooper and the Big Oil and gas industry—to protect citizens and their health and property by banning fracking in the city,” said Gary Wockner of Clean Water Action, a national environmental organization in Fort Collins that has 2,000 members. “People are taking charge of their democracy, wrestling it away from powerful special interests—Longmont was first, Fort Collins second, who will be third?”
For a complete account and photo essay on the issues of fracking in Colorado, click here.
5. Two Bills Introduced to Protect the Public From Fracking
(Note- Congressman Cartwright is from PA, jan)
“Two important bills to protect the environment and the Americans’ health were introduced in Congress: the BREATHE Act, sponsored by Congressman Jared Polis (CO-02) and the FRESHER Act, sponsored by Congressman Matthew Cartwright (PA-17). The BREATHE Act reverses a dangerous and long-standing loophole under the Clean Air Act, which exempts the oil and gas industry from compliance with critical safeguards that protect the public from toxic air pollution. The FRESHER Act will close a Clean Water Act loophole that exempts the oil and gas industry from the national stormwater pollution prevention permit standard, which are critical tools for preserving water quality.
6. Australia Northern River Area Blocks Drilling
The Australian coal seam gas (CSG) company, Metgasco announced it is suspending all exploration and production in the northern rivers area. They cited regulatory uncertainty and blamed the State government’s recent 2-kilometer CSG exclusion zone for residential areas and agricultural infrastructure.
This successful campaign was won with combined action of people from all walks of life and shades of politics using all forms of campaigning and protesting including rallies and concerts attended by 10,000s, ‘the knitting nannas’, the Gals against gas in their super girl outfits and the brave souls who undertook non violent action and blockading of CSG activities. As with most campaigns now, social media played such an important part and the consolidated action proved too much for this company and its shareholders, with the share price plummeting.
Importantly, the Lock the Gate, ’lock the road’ movement which saw community after community declare their road, street or village opposed to this industry meant that despite regulatory permits and political support, the CSG industry could never claim they had a social license.
The win also showed the benefit of having a well informed and empowered public. It demonstrated the real need for NGOs working in toxics to help inform and educate local communities facing the threat of unconventional gas activities. Providing written and video forms of global and importantly, local information on chemicals, their regulation and air and water pollution risks, meant communities felt empowered to argue the hazards of the industry with confidence.”
7. Dr. Goldstein Warns of Health Risks
“Dr. Bernard Goldstein, a physician and professor emeritus in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, warns that in Pennsylvania, the law governing disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fails to protect public health. And he says that the drilling industry is “managing” the story of gas extraction to divert our attention from fracking’s real risks. Goldstein spoke Feb. 28 at a Pitt-sponsored symposium on Act 13, the controversial 2012 state law regulating gas extraction, including disclosure of the chemicals. Critics contend the law is effectively a gag order on physicians: It allows companies to withhold the names of some fracking chemicals as trade secrets; limits when the identities of those chemicals can be disclosed to physicians; and requires doctors who need that information to sign confidentiality agreements preventing them from sharing it even with their patients.
Goldstein, a former GSPH dean, attacked gas-industry spin that defines hydrofracturing not as the whole drilling process, but narrowly, as the release of fracking fluid into shale formations under high-pressure a mile underground. Such a focus fails to account, for instance, for “flowback water,” the toxic liquid that returns to the surface as part of the drilling process. Flowback fluid contains fracking chemicals plus chemicals picked up in the shale formation itself. And these naturally occurring materials are “where the action is in Pennsylvania in terms of public-health risks,” said Goldstein. The law surrounding shale gas and public health, he says, “has almost been a form of environmental recidivism.” He added that Act 13 was written and passed with no input from health experts. “It’s really easy to ignore public health, and that’s exactly what’s happening here.”
8. Burying Toxic Frack Waste
(Summary of Comments from Bob)
“Range Resources is one (of the) drilling companies that buries production pits (reserve pits and flowback pits).
“A report out of Texas reveals what is in many of those pits. Is their radioactive content the reason drillers bury them onsite instead of taking them to landfills? Is it because they would set-off radiation alarms and would have to be hauled to more expensive landfills that handle radioactive materials? You tell me.
I’ve been told by a good source that landowners in West Virginia have to approve burial of these pits on their properties. Even though these pits are commonly buried in Pennsylvania under “ALTERNATE WASTE DISPOSAL’ permits that are routinely approved by the Pa. DEP, it is unclear whether production companies like Range also get an ‘OK’ from the surface owner where these ‘toxic teabags’ are wrapped in plastic and buried 18-inches for eternity. How many SUPERFUND sites are we creating throughout our communities and parks? “ Bob
Soil and water (sludge) obtained from reserve pits used in unconventional natural gas mining was analyzed for the presence of technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM). Samples were analyzed for total gamma, alpha, and beta radiation, and specific radionuclides: beryllium, potassium, scandium, cobalt, cesium, thallium, lead-210 and -214, bismuth-212 and -214, radium-226 and -228, thorium, uranium, and strontium-89 and -90. Laboratory analysis confirmed elevated beta readings recorded at 1329 ± 311 pCi/g. Specific radionuclides present in an active reserve pit and the soil of a leveled, vacated reserve pit included 232Thorium decay series (228Ra, 228Th, 208Tl), and 226Radium decay series (214Pb, 214Bi, 210Pb) radionuclides. The potential for impact of TENORM to the environment, occupational workers, and the general public is presented with potential health effects of individual radionuclides. Current oversight, exemption of TENORM in federal and state regulations, and complexity in reporting are discussed.
TENORM waste has been excluded from many regulatory guidelines and from regulatory oversight. Future studies are needed to evaluate what percentage of reserve pits are actually used for deposition of radioactive materials. Further studies are needed to understand how radioactive materials transfer to vegetation and animal products and the uptake mechanisms of those materials through the food chain. The long half-lives that are intrinsic to many radionuclides are a major concern for future generations. As the United States goes forward with the expansion of drilling natural gas reservoirs (especially drilling in shale, which requires hydraulic fracturing with millions of gallons of water and producing nearly equal amounts of flowback), it is imperative that we obtain better knowledge of the quantity of radioactive material and the specific radioisotopes being brought to the earth’s surface from these mining processes. Proper regulation of surface deposits and disposal of wastes can prevent elevation of natural levels of radiation and increased exposure of animals and humans to potentially harmful levels of radioactivity.
9. Gov. Hickenlooper Threatens To Sue Any Town, City That Bans Fracking
“Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado says he won’t tolerate cities and towns that ban oil and gas drilling within their borders and he promises to take them to court. CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd sat down with the governor, who was blunt. He told Boyd the state will sue any local government that bans hydraulic fracturing.
“Nothing makes me less happy then to have to be in a lawsuit with a municipality,” Hickenlooper said. If that’s true, the governor is an unhappy man these days. Four months after suing the city of Longmont for banning fracking, the state now plans to go after Fort Collins after its city council gave initial approval of a ban on fracking this week. “So you’ll go around the state and sue every city and county that passes a ban?” Boyd asked Hickenlooper. “We have to, we have no choice,” he responded. Fort Collins Mayor Karen Weitkunat says while it’s the state’s right to sue, Fort Collins is a home-rule city and they want to make their own land-use decisions.”
10. NY Town Sued for Banning Citizens to Talk about Fracking
“Two groups, Natural Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy are suing the town of Sanford for banning discussion of gas drilling and fracking at town board meetings. They say the Broome County town of Sanford is violating residents First Amendment rights to free speech.
The board passed a resolution saying there had already been hours of public comment for and against gas drilling and no further discussion would be allowed.”
(latrobe bulletin, 2-13-13, NY town sued for banning frack talk at meetings)
11. Fracking Waste Poses Problems for Water
“Saltwater brine combines with chlorine to form trihalomethanes that increase the risk of bladder cancer and other cancers. In addition, the chemicals in frack water can kill the beneficial bacteria used in sewage treatment plants, making the treatment process less effective.
Many Northeast municipal sewage systems also process storm water. So every time there is a hard rain, large volumes of runoff force the shutdown of sewage treatment plants allowing high volumes of untreated raw sewage and possibly frack wastewater to gush into waterways.
Injection wells, mostly old oil and gas drill holes, have no container at the bottom to trap waste. A report by Pro Publica found that thousands of them are leaking, bringing chemicals and waste to the surface or into shallow aquifers.
People tout gas as a cheap fuel but that is faulty logic that fails to add in water cleanup costs. When proper accounting is done, we may discover that gas is simply not cost effective or environmentally friendly and that it is time for the us to pursue other energy options.”
(Fracking endangers Northeast water, Erica Gies, editorial, latrobe bulletin, 2-5-13)
12. More on PAs Revolving Door
“A report titled "Fracking and the Revolving Door in Pennsylvania" identified 45 current or former state officials who have links to the energy industry and gas drilling and fracking regulation, including 28 who have left to take
The 30-page report, released two weeks ago by the Public Accountability Initiative (public-accountability.org), a Buffalo, N.Y.-based nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization focused on corporate and government accountability, said that attrition from government jobs to positions in the regulated industry calls into question the commitment of those employees to enforce regulations on companies they could soon work for.
Enforcement could also be hurt, the report said, when industry executives move into regulatory positions in government.
According to the report, the last four governors, including Tom Corbett, have "strong ties to the natural gas industry," as do a number of administrators from previous governors' offices, and 20 DEP administrators and employees, Democrats and Republicans alike, including all five DEP secretaries since the department was created in 1995.
That group includes DEP Secretary Michael Krancer, who was a judge on the state Environmental Hearing Board before his appointment as secretary. But prior to that, the report said, he was a general counsel at a utility, Exelon, that relies on natural gas, and once worked as a litigation partner at Blank Rome LLP, a law firm and lobbying group that represents natural gas interests and is an associate member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
"The revolving door data in this report raises troubling questions about the incentives that may be guiding public officials' oversight of fracking in Pennsylvania, from governors to DEP secretaries to well inspectors." Robert Galbraith, a research analyst at Public Accountability Initiative, said in the report he authored.
A two-year gap needed?
The "revolving door" issue was also raised two weeks ago at the House Democratic Policy Committee hearing in Washington, Pa., where Judy Armstrong Stiles of Bradford County spoke about how incomplete reporting of water well test results by the DEP allowed her family to continue using contaminated water that damaged their health.
Also at that hearing, Craig Stevens, a resident of Silver Lake Township in Susquehanna County, told the policy committee that "the DEP looks like it's run by the industry," and "there should be a two-year moratorium on people from [the department] going to the industry."
Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, a government accountability advocate, said ex-government workers can be a significant resource for oil and gas drilling companies, and the public "should be vigilant about conflicts of interest that may arise from the transition of government administrators or lower-level employees to private companies they may have regulated."
He said the state ethics law has very narrow and limited prohibitions only against government administrators lobbying the departments they worked for, and then only for a year.
So, for example, a person who worked for the governor's office could legally lobby the DEP the day after he quits state government.
"The prohibition for lobbying should be extended to two years and extended to the entire state government," Mr. Kauffman said.
The report notes that Mr. Corbett received campaign contributions totaling more than $1.8 million from the oil and gas industry, and worked as a lawyer for Waste Management, a waste hauling firm that's a member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a lobbying organization for shale gas development.
Mr. Corbett also appointed Mr. Krancer as DEP secretary and C. Alan Walker as Department of Community and Economic Development secretary. Mr. Walker was president and CEO of Bradford Energy, a firm grown out of his family's coal business. According to the report, Mr. Walker has holdings in a variety of companies related to the oil and gas industry, including a 30 percent stake in Gigo Oil and Gas.
13. US Climate Bomb is Ticking: What the Gas Industry Doesn't Want You to Know- Dr. Ingraffea
“There is another climate bomb in the United States shale gas hydraulic fracking, which emits methane is more dangerous than CO2. While many rhetorically call natural gas a bridge to the clean energy future, new information is showing the opposite; natural gas will hasten climate change, poisons the air, land and water, and carries unacceptable risks to our health.
According to Dr. Ingraffea, Cornell U., it is true that natural gas produces less carbon dioxide than other fuels when burned. What is not talked about enough is how fracking unleashes methane, which has devastating effects on climate change. Natural gas is primarily methane, and when methane is leaked into the atmosphere, it is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide by a factor of 30 to hundreds, depending on the time period over which it is emitted and other factors. Every gas well leaks to some extent, but the current industry standard is that one out of every 20 wells leaks large amounts of methane before it is discovered to be failing.
Only recently have studies started to ask how much methane is leaking overall from shale gas fracking, and it looks like the answer is twice as high as initially anticipated. Rather than serving as a bridge to a clean energy future, Ingraffea states, natural gas will hasten climate change, and is a climate bomb with greater potential impact than the Alberta Tar Sands.
That brings the question: Is natural gas worth it because it will bring energy independence and security? The wars fought by the United States are largely over resources such as oil, and the US military is the worst polluter on the planet. So it would be a huge benefit to the planet, not to mention our domestic spending needs, if the United States reduced its military carbon footprint. It turns out that the idea of natural gas as a real source of energy independence and security is false.
The Risks of Shale Gas Fracking
Studies on the environmental impact and health effects of shale gas fracking are in the early phases, but answers are starting to emerge. Over 25,000 unconventional shale gas wells exist in the United States, which means that there have been ample opportunities for the industry to study and develop best practices. Ingraffea says recent research shows the current rate of significant environmental harm occurs in one out of every 150 wells drilled in Pennsylvania. There have already been scores of serious environmental incidents across the United States.
Shale gas fracking is what is known as a communal industry, meaning that it takes place within communities, close to homes and schools. In fact, public schools and universities are opening their land to fracking to gain income as public funding for education falls. In a communal industry, the people in the community are subjected to industry risks. Despite that, there are no federal rules governing fracking, and regulation varies from state to state. For communal industries such as bridges and airlines, the standard risk to the population must be on the order of 1 out of tens of millions.
This means that shale gas fracking, at 1 out of 150, falls in a completely unacceptable level of risk to the community, not to mention that it is common in the United States and other parts of the world for lower-income and minority communities to be at disproportionate risk as fracking and other dirty extraction operations are often sited near them.
Ingraffea points out that there are many opportunities for things to go wrong. Toxic fracking fluid routinely spills during transport. Wells can accidentally communicate underground, leading to a blowout of fracking fluids through one well as they are pumped through another. Such a blowout occurred on Valentine's Day this year in Colorado which sent 84,000 gallons of toxic fluids flying into the air. Fracking fluids and gas can migrate into the water table and contaminate the water supply. Methane in the water supply is believed to be the cause of spontaneous house fires. The injection of fracking waste into storage wells causes earthquakes. Open pools that store fracking waste can rupture and leak into waterways. Pipelines that carry the natural gas can rupture and leak or catch fire.
According to Dr. Sandra Steingraber, a biologist and author of Raising Elijah, among the chemicals known to be used in fracking, one third are known carcinogens and others are neurotoxins and reproductive toxicants which sabotage pregnancy and interfere with hormones. But this isn't the whole of it: the fluids that go down the wells also return to the surface carrying heavy metals, radiation, radon and organic compounds from the shale with them. Radon causes lung cancer, and benzene, an organic compound, causes leukemia. As Steingraber describes it, these substances are not a threat when they are locked deep in the ground, but fracking is "fracturing the lid on Pandora's Box."
14. Spill in Wyoming County, PA -Thousands of Gallons of Frack Fluid
Several families in Wyoming County are heading home after a fracking fluid spill at a nearby gas well pad forced residents from seven homes that are within 1500 feet of the well site.
The DEP said a drill malfunction caused thousands of gallons of fracking fluid to shoot out, and for a while workers were worried there could be natural gas explosion.The gas well run by Carrizo Gas Company was capped off early in the afternoon and the drill was repaired.
At one point 800 gallons of fluid per minute were flowing out. DEP says workers were able to contain the fracking fluid in a nearby retention pond and only a little bit got on the road.
DEP tested the air and water and found nothing wrong but the testing will continue just to make sure.
“We actually did radiation test, of fracking fluid, of any methane into the air,” said DEP spokesperson Coleen Connolly.
One major concern while crews tried to fix the broke drill: the possibility of a flare up or explosion because of all the natural gas that was built up in the well under the drill.
“We asked people to voluntarily leave from homes because we didn’t have control of it at that point,” said Wyoming County EMA Director Gene Dziak.
15. Penn State Opens New Research Center To Support Gas Economy –(No Bias There)
“Working closely with industry, and state and federal government partners, members of INGaR, the Institute for Natural Gas Research, will conduct research in the complex processes involved in natural gas exploration, production, transmission, storage, processing, combustion, infrastructure and water transport, usage and impact.
A major goal of the institute is to support the ongoing development of a natural gas-based economy that will allow the country to eventually consume a predominantly domestic supply of gas for many years to come. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects U.S. natural gas production will increase 44 percent by 2040.”
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s Group—Mission 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
Facebook Coordinator-Elizabeth Nordstrom
Blogsite –April Jackman
Science Subcommittee-Dr. Cynthia Walter
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