Saturday, March 30, 2013

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates   March 28, 2013
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*  To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information
*  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:      
* To view see how much PA officials received in contributions from the gas industry:

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

***Film----Triple Divide Showing in Butler

Saturday, March 30, 2013 - 12:30 pm
Butler Public Library
218 N. McKean Street
Butler PA 16001
Free and Open to the Public
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 

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

Frack Links

***Dr. David Brown—Excellent Video on Public Health and Fracking -25 minutes


***You can view the program ‘Fracking & Public Health’ on You Tube

 Seminar held at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa

Thank you – St. Vincent College Meeting
In addition to others mentioned last week I forgot to thank:
Gwen and Ed Chute- For working the information table as they have done for the group many times. 

               ***Take Action: Tell the EPA to Protect Vulnerable Communities from Toxic Air Pollution
               The Environmental Protection Agency is working on a safeguard that closes existing industry loopholes and holds polluters accountable for bursts of toxic air pollution that currently go unchecked.

               Neighborhoods adjacent to these types of facilities -- often lower-income families and communities of color -- are being exposed to dangerously high levels of air pollution. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, polluters are fighting this commonsense effort. 
               Tell the EPA to stand strong and protect vulnerable communities from dangerous air pollution.


***Past Action--Good Work On Acid Mine Water Bill !!

 Good work everyone on taking action to ask our representatives to examine the vagueness of the acid mine drainage bill. As you recall, there are concerns about liability problems with the acid mine water being used to frack gas wells. We received a message that we could  “hold” from PennEnvironment-- that our action was working to raise questions.

            A Response from Sen. Dinniman-- The acid mine drainage bill is too vague

“Dear Friend –

               Thank you for writing in opposition Senate Bill 411, legislation that aims to encourage natural gas drillers and other companies to use acid mine water for hydraulic fracturing and other industrial uses by providing liability protection to landowners and companies.

               I appreciate you raising concerns regarding the vagueness of the bill’s language and the potential for endangerment or contamination of our waterways, lands and natural resources. Please know that I understand your concerns and I agree that gas drillers must be held accountable for their activities. That is why I do not support this legislation.

               Thank you for contacting my office about this important matter, and please do not hesitate to do so again regarding this or any other issue or concern that may arise in the future.


Andrew E. Dinniman

State Senator – 19th District”


Frack News

1. Senator Leach Tells Gov Corbett-Nominate a Moderate for PA Supreme Court
(This PA Supreme Court appointment is of concern for many reasons, one of which is that we are still waiting for the ruling on the Act 13 appeal. If Gov. Corbett appoints a conservative judge, Act 13 zoning regs will be reinstated and local municipalities will lose the right to protect residential areas via the zoning gas operations. Jan)   

               “Sen. Leach tells Gov. Corbett to nominate a moderate or else, for Supremes. In a new OFF THE FLOOR column, Capitolwire Bureau Chief Peter L. DeCoursey writes that Senate Judiciary Committee Minority Chairman Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, has a message for Gov. Tom Corbett: “Nominate a thoughtful, independent moderate for the Supreme Court. Or we won’t confirm them.” To confirm a appointment to the state Supreme Court, two-thirds of the Senate must vote in favor of the nominee. When DeCoursey asked Leach if it was fair for the Democrats to insist that Corbett nominate a moderate to replace a conservative in Melvin, Leach agreed Melvin was an ideological conservative and concluded: “We have the votes. And we are going to insist on a qualified, independent moderate.”  And just a note to the people who would like to see merit selection replace electing justices: While there are supposed to be deadlines and safeguards built into the proposed merit selection system, Sen. Leach’s tactic would appear to raise some questions as to how a merit selection process could be “gamed” by both political parties – just a thought.”


HARRISBURG (March 27) - The top Senate leader in each caucus said Tuesday that Gov. Tom Corbett needs to sit down and discuss potential Supreme Court nominees before he floats more names or sends up a nominee.

               Once Justice Joan Orie Melvin, a Republican, convicted of misusing state workers for her campaign, resigns on May 1, Corbett can nominate a replacement. The Supreme Court can also name a short-term replacement until a Corbett nominee receives a two-thirds confirmation vote in the Senate.

               But as long as the court is knotted on major decisions - like Voter ID, shale zoning and reapportionment - it will be hard to get the seven Senate Democratic votes needed to confirm anyone, or the Democratic vote on the court for Castille to pick a temp.

               Some believe that the court may have to uphold the lower court rulings in those three cases and perhaps others by 3-3 votes to get to a point where either the court or Senate can get the votes to pick a 7th justice.

               Once the court clears those three big cases, though, a real opening exists to meet Costa and Corbett’s goal of a June 30 appointment.

               The Senate Democrats can sit on a Supreme Court nominee as long as they like. And the governor can return serve as long as he wishes, holding up appointments the Senate Democrats have had, either by law or custom, to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and to two spots on the Public Utilities Commission. Plus there is a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board nomination to wrangle over.”


2. US Senator Bob Casey Pushes Gas

               “Natural gas-powered school and public transit buses might be the newest development in the Pennsylvania’s natural gas sector.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey introduced new legislation Friday that supports the transition of natural gas as a vehicle fuel — creating a rebate program for the purchase of natural gas-powered buses, as well as tax credits for natural gas filling stations and fuel.

               “When you have an opportunity like natural gas development in Pennsylvania, you have to be thoughtful in how you put into place a strategy that will lead to job growth,” Casey said of this transportation-focused bill. “I think the way to do that is to be more narrowly focused than some other (bills) have been.”

               Specifically, the Natural Gas Energy and Alternative Rewards (NGEAR) Act would establish a rebate of 30 percent, up to $15,000, for the purchase of natural gas school and transit buses; extend the Alternative Fuel Tax Credit of $0.50 a gallon for the retail sale of natural gas fuel for everyone who uses it to power vehicles through 2016; and extend a tax credit for installing commercial natural gas refueling infrastructure through 2016, totaling 30 percent of the system, up to $30,000.

               “We know we have these massive school (and transit) bus fleets and this is a proposal that allows us to really focus on a huge segment of our transportation sector and be able to provide some incentive,” Casey said. “It really gives us a chance to infuse a lot of momentum by way of incentives.”

               Casey also said the bill would also help decrease the country’s dependence on foreign oil by promoting domestic development and deployment of clean transportation advancements.

               While Casey is a definite proponent of job creation in the natural gas industry, he isn’t immune to the environmental issues that come along with the industry. He spoke out earlier this month regarding the fracking wastewater dumping in Youngstown, Ohio, and lack of communication between Ohio and Pennsylvania.”

3. From Marcellus Outreach-Terry Greenwood’s Cattle              

               “My name is Terry Greenwood. My farm is losing revenue from sick and dying cattle. I am calling for a ban on fracking...The wellhead was 285 feet from my pond. There was a spill on my property a short time later. The frack fluid went into my field and pond. My animals drank this water. I lost 11 cattle. A two-year-old cow died, 10 calves were stillborn, and 4 were blind (2 had blue eyes and 2 had white eyes). This affects the animals something terrible. I had to get rid of my bull, because he became sterile. I called the DEP, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. Also, we called the gas company. No one helped me. The DEP sided with the gas company when I called them. I was told by the DEP, ‘There’s nothing wrong with this. They dump the water.’ The damage was done.”

(To read a paper documenting animal deaths and stillborns see Bamburger/ Oswald ,“Impacts of gas drilling on human and animal health.” New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy. Vol. 22. Iss. 1. January 2012.” jan)


4. DEP Secretary Krancer’s Legacy—excerpt from article by Don Hopey, PPG

“Mr. Krancer's management style made him few friends among Democratic legislators, environmentalists and even some DEP staffers, as he sought to concentrate enforcement power within a small circle of administrators in Harrisburg.

               Just two months after he was appointed, he required department field inspectors and regional directors to get approval from his office before issuing Marcellus Shale drilling permits, enforcing regulations or issuing violation notices.

               Staffers internally criticized the policy, and a DEP administrator had to send an apology to regional directors for the "significant confusion and consternation" it caused.

               Also in March 2011, and without public notice, Mr. Krancer gave top administrators in Harrisburg sole power to approve violation notices and enforcement actions in cases involving other state or federal agencies.

               And in September 2012 -- again without public notice -- he transferred decisions from field offices to Harrisburg administrators about when property owners should be notified of water well contamination related to Marcellus Shale operations.

               Mr. Krancer also has been criticized for the incomplete reporting of well water test results to property owners, and recently for being evasive at a state House appropriations committee meeting when questioned about his views on climate change and its human causes.

               Mr. Krancer chaffed at scrutiny by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which in May 2011 requested that the DEP do a better job of sampling, monitoring and regulating Marcellus Shale drilling wastewater discharges near public drinking water sources.

               The EPA and Mr. Krancer also clashed over the federal agency's involvement in assessing water contamination related to shale gas drilling in Dimock, Susquehanna County, in January 2012. Mr. Krancer wrote that the EPA's understanding of the well water contamination issues there was "rudimentary."

               "He likes being judge, and that's how he approached decisions at the agency," Mr. Jugovic said. "The secretary should be setting policy at the 10,000-foot level, not be down in the weeds, adjudicating decisions about enforcement in Washington County."

               John Hanger, DEP secretary under former Gov. Ed Rendell and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, said Marcellus Shale gas regulation has suffered under the Corbett administration and the DEP has been demoralized under Mr. Krancer.

               "Morale at DEP is at devastatingly low levels," Mr. Hanger said. "Corbett's DEP has failed to adequately regulate gas drilling and taken combative stances when citizens present the agency with legitimate concerns and problems."

               Mr. Krancer is the third Cabinet secretary to resign during the past several months.”

 For the article see:


 Also see: Pa. State Rep. Jesse White weighs in--- “KRANCER RETREATING IN DISGRACE”…


5. MIT Study Bias –from Amy Goodman Democracy Now!

“How MIT’s Influential Study of Fracking Was Authored, Funded, and Released by Oil and Gas Industry Insiders."

An excerpt:

“AMY GOODMAN: Let’s turn to our guest in Los Angeles, Kevin Connor, and what you found in your report. Talk about the report that you did that looks at—well, the title of the report is "Industry Partner or Industry Puppet? How MIT’s Influential Study of Fracking Was Authored, Funded, and Released by Oil and Gas Industry Insiders."

               KEVIN CONNOR: Sure. Moniz’s nomination prompted us at the Public Accountability Initiative to take a closer look at an influential study that MIT did on "The Future of Natural Gas," as it was called, in 2011. It was issued by the Energy Initiative, which Moniz was the director of. And it gave a very pro-gas—put a very pro-gas spin on fracking and shale gas extraction, said that natural gas was a bridge or will be a bridge to a low-carbon future, said that the environmental impacts related to fracking are challenging but manageable, and also endorsed natural gas exports, which is a very industry-friendly position to take.

It immediately, you know, prompted some criticism from people who pointed to the fact that the report was actually industry-funded, much like the initiative itself. But it was extremely influential. It was designed to influence policymakers. Moniz testified before Congress on the report. It had immediate impact, as well. And it came at a critical time for the industry, which was facing significant questions about the safety of fracking, the relative environmental impacts of fracking. And we took a closer look at the study and found that beyond just the industry funding of the study, there were significant conflicts of interest that went undisclosed in the report itself and in presentations of the report, and those involved Moniz and several other key authors of the study. So, as it turns out, it was not only just funded by industry, it was also authored by industry representatives.

AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Connor, I wanted to turn to a 2011 press conference at the MIT Energy Initiative, where Ernest Moniz introduced the study now under contention, "The Future of Natural Gas." In his opening remarks, Professor Moniz emphasized the report’s independent of its sponsors and advisers.

               ERNEST MONIZ: I do want to emphasize a disclaimer, if you like, that while their advice was absolutely critical, they are not responsible for the recommendations and the findings. We have not asked for endorsement. We asked for their advice; we received it. But the results, then, are our responsibility.

AMY GOODMAN: Later in the presentation, co-chair Anthony Meggs introduces the MIT report’s findings, saying environmental impacts associated with fracking are, quote, "challenging but manageable." However, Meggs failed to disclose he had joined the gas company Talisman Energy prior to the release of the study.               ANTHONY MEGGS: ... messages are very simple. First of all, there’s a lot of gas in the world, at very modest cost. As you will see, gas is still, globally speaking, a very young industry with a bright future ahead of it. Secondly, and perhaps obviously at this stage, although not so obvious when we started three years ago, shale gas is transformative for the economy of the United States, North America, for the gas industry, in particular, and potentially on a global scale. Thirdly, the environmental impacts of shale development, widely discussed and hotly debated, are—and we use these words carefully—challenging but manageable.

AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Connor, your response?

               KEVIN CONNOR: It’s absolutely outrageous for the Energy Initiative, for Moniz and MIT to pretend this is independent of industry, well, first of all, given the fact that the sponsors of the report are all, you know, industry organizations and companies like Chesapeake Energy. Moniz was attempting to say that it was somehow insulated from the influence of these gas companies, when in fact authors of the study, such as Moniz and Meggs, were—had industry positions at the time.

Meggs’s quote there is particularly insidious, the fact that he is saying that fracking is safe for the environment, when he had actually joined Talisman Energy, a gas company, one of the most active frackers in the Marcellus Shale, a month before the study was released. So he is speaking to a roomful of journalists there, presenting a report designed to influence policy, and not disclosing that he is on the industry payroll. That is perhaps the last person in that room who should be presenting that finding or having anything to do with authoring that kind of report. And yet MIT and Moniz thought it was appropriate to put that spokesperson forward. So, it just goes to the fact that MIT was really sort of presenting an industry brochure here with a lot of pro-gas, industry advocacy talking points, and not revealing that there were significant conflicts of interest here.”


 6. On Liberating Communities from Corporate Control and The Unsealing of Hallowich Court Case

A New Civil Rights Movement:  Liberating Our Communities from Corporate Control
A Pennsylvania Judge Holds That Corporations Are Not “Persons” under the Pennsylvania Constitution 

By Thomas Alan Linzey, Esq., Executive Director

March 28, 2013

               “To protect small and family farms from industrial factory farms, over a decade ago a handful of Pennsylvania townships picked a fight with some of the country’s largest agribusiness corporations.  Recognizing that the state and federal government, rather than protecting them from factory farms, were in fact, forcing them into communities, the townships took the unprecedented step of banning corporate farming within their borders. 

               Thus began the journey to spark a new civil rights movement – one aimed at elevating the right of communities over the “rights” of corporations to use communities for their own ends.

               In a departure from the usual David and Goliath story, with one tiny community battling a giant corporation, today there are over 150 “Davids” in eight states that have followed the lead of those Pennsylvania townships.  Community by community, they’ve banned corporate “fracking” for shale gas, factory farming, sludge dumping, large-scale water withdrawals, and industrial-scale energy projects.

               But they’re not intent on simply stopping the immediate threat of fracking or factory farming. Rather, they’re adopting Community Bills of Rights that ban such projects as violations of the community’s right to a sustainable energy and farming future. And to protect those Bills of Rights, they are legislatively overturning a slew of corporate legal doctrines – like corporate “personhood” – that have been concocted over the past century to keep communities from interfering with corporate prerogatives.

               These communities believe that if ten thousand other localities do the same, that those tremors will begin to shake loose a new system of law – a system in which courts and legislatures begin to elevate community rights above corporate rights, and thus, begin to liberate cities and towns to build economically and environmentally sustainable communities free from corporate interference.

               Last week, a Pennsylvania county court gave this new movement a boost – declaring that corporations are not “persons” under the Pennsylvania Constitution, and therefore, that corporations cannot elevate their “private rights” above the rights of people.

               The ruling was delivered in a case brought by several Western Pennsylvania newspapers which sought the release of a sealed settlement agreement between a family claiming to be affected by water contamination from gas fracking, and Range Resources – one of the largest gas extraction corporations in the state.

Range Resources argued that unsealing the settlement agreement would violate the corporation’s constitutional right to privacy under the Pennsylvania Constitution.

               In a landmark ruling, President Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca of the Washington County Court of Common Pleas denied the corporation’s request on the basis that the Pennsylvania Constitution only protects the rights of people, not business entities.

                In the ruling, Judge O’Dell-Seneca declared that “in the absence of state law, business entities are nothing.” If corporations could claim rights independent from people, she asserted, then “the chattel would become the co-equal to its owners, the servant on par with its masters, the agent the peer of its principals, and the legal fabrication superior to the law that created and sustains it.” 

               She further found that “the constitution vests in business entities no special rights that the laws of this Commonwealth cannot extinguish. In sum, [corporations] cannot assert [constitutional privacy] protections because they are not mentioned in its text.”

               Judge O’Dell-Seneca cited sections of the 1776 Pennsylvania Constitution in support of her contention that corporations were never intended to be constitutionally protected “persons.” She declared that “an even more dubious proposition is that the framers of the Constitution of 1776, given their egalitarian sympathies, would have concerned themselves with vesting, for the first time in history, indefeasible rights in such entities. . . that language extends only to natural persons.”

               Finally, she tackled the very nature of corporations by declaring that “it is axiomatic that corporations, companies, and partnerships have no ‘spiritual nature,’ ‘feelings,’ ‘intellect,’ ‘beliefs,’ ‘thoughts,’ ‘emotions,’ or ‘sensations,’ because they do not exist in the manner that humankind exists. . . They cannot be ‘let alone’ by government, because businesses are but grapes, ripe upon the vine of the law, that the

people of this Commonwealth raise, tend, and prune at their pleasure and need.”

               The court records unsealed by the ruling reveal that Range Resources, and the other corporations which were the subject of the complaint, paid out $750,000 to settle claims of water contamination caused by fracking.

               The ruling represents the first crack in the judicial armor that has been so meticulously welded together by major corporations. And it affirms what many communities already know – that change only occurs when people begin to openly question and challenge legal doctrines that have been treated as sacred by most lawyers and judges.

               It is that disobedience – of entire communities sitting at lunch counters demanding to be served – that is our only hope of salvation in a world increasingly commandeered by a small handful of corporate decision makers intent on remaking the world as their own.

               A revolution that subordinates the powers and rights of corporations to the rights of people and nature now waits in the wings. Perhaps now, we’re ready to move it to center stage.”

7. Senator Yaw Denies Conflict of Interest

               “State Senator Gene Yaw of Lycoming County is only in his second term but already has considerable influence in the state legislature. Now, some question whether the Republican has a conflict of interest.

Yaw proposed new laws that would expand natural gas service to more Pennsylvanians, all while he stands to make lots of money from the gas industry.

               Yaw, chair of the senate environmental Resource and Energy Committee, is pushing for new laws to expand natural gas line service to more Pennsylvania homes and businesses.

                              Senator Yaw owns land in rural Lycoming County that’s proven lucrative. Yaw has leased more than 100 acres to natural gas company Anadarko Petroleum.

               “All he’s done is sign a piece of paper and millions come his way, so isn’t he going to think gas development is the most wonderful thing in the world? Who wouldn’t?” asked Ralph Kisberg of Responsible Drilling Alliance.

               Kisberg took part in a hike Monday to call for saving parts of the Loyalsock State Forest from natural gas drilling.  The group delivered petitions calling for public hearings on the matter to Senator Yaw’s office in Williamsport. Kisberg and some other environment groups say Yaw should be taking himself out of the legislative process when it comes to issues involving natural gas development.

“It’s a lot easier to buy the arguments of the industry when, in the back of your mind, there’s millions coming your way,” said Kisberg.

               Yaw says that’s not so, pointing to the fact he signed the lease with Anadarko before he was elected to the state senate.”

For the article:

To read the Guide to PA Public Officials and Employee Ethics Act:


8. Former Governor Rendell, Urges NY to Start Drilling

Editorial by former Gov Ed Rendell, New York Daily 

“Natural gas has an important role to play in the Northeast region and in our nation’s overall energy future. It’s already creating new opportunities for consumers and businesses and promoting economic growth in a range of sectors — all while reducing environmental impacts.

               I know because, as governor of Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2011, I saw this happen up-close.

               That’s why New York’s consideration of hydraulic fracturing is so essential. We’re at an energy crossroads as a nation. If we choose to embrace natural gas, it will help us get past a number of significant economic and environmental challenges. On the other hand, if we let fear carry the day, we will squander another key moment to move forward together.

               New York has a healthy band of vocal critics right now who continue to push a false choice: natural gas versus the environment. But as the former Democratic governor of a major natural gas-producing state, I know we can enjoy the benefits of gas production while also protecting the environment.

               Pennsylvania put in place strong oversight while allowing development throughout the Marcellus Shale — and the economic benefits were significant.

Thousands of solid jobs with good salaries were created, communities came back to life and investment in the state soared. The steel, lumber, concrete and construction industries, as well as manufacturing purchases and retail spending, all benefited from the ensuing natural gas boom. According to economic research firm IHS, shale gas contributed about $7 billion to Pennsylvania’s gross domestic product. And, the study says, that number will double in 2015.” 

(EDITOR'S ADDENDUM: Rendell is a paid consultant to Element Partners, a private equity firm with stake in a number of energy companies, including hydrofracking/natural gas interests. This information was not disclosed at the time his op-ed was submitted to the News. ) 

Read more:


9. DuBois Council Votes Against Seismic Testing on Watershed Land

“DuBOIS - After much discussion and feedback from the public, the DuBois City council voted unanimously against seismic testing on land they own in the watershed that feeds into the DuBois Reservoir.
 a request from Seitel Data Inc. to conduct the testing on a 3.59-square-mile area owned by the city was denied.
 Seitel wants to conduct testing over a 250-square-mile from St. Marys to Benezette to Brockway, including the city's property. The testing is about one-third of the way completed.

               Many residents are concerned that the information obtained by Seitel would be sold to companies that want to conduct Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations.
Those in favor of the testing pointed out that while the city could control what happens on the land it owns, it cannot dictate what the owners of the remainder of the property do. They say Seitel agreed to 10 stipulations set by the city's watershed committee and geological consultant. Those stipulations included items such as developing maps of all water sources on the city's property, testing of water before and after the seismic tests are completed, locating and marking all metallic pipes and gas wells on the city's property, providing copies of the information Seitel gathers as a result of the testing and allowing a representative of the city to oversee all the testing operations.

               Watershed Committee member Sam Miles said while he commended the council on its decision, he is concerned about what will happen on the land in the watershed that is not under the council's control. He suggested the council get together with surrounding municipalities to formulate a source water protection module to help protect the watershed.”

To read the article: “


10. Waterless Fracking Being Tried in Texas

by Kate Galbraith       

               “With water increasingly scarce and expensive around Texas, a few companies have begun fracking with propane or other alternatives.

               “We don’t use any water,” said Eric Tudor, a Houston-based official with GasFrac, a Canadian company that fracks with propane gel and butane. “Zip. None.” At a GasFrac operation in South Texas last month, a sticker on one worker's hard hat showed a red slash through the word H2O.

               Water-free fracking is an early-stage technology, with potentially higher initial costs than conventional fracking methods. But as lawmakers and oil regulators focus on the large quantity of water used for fracking wells, the concept is getting a closer look. GasFrac has led the way, bringing its propane fracking operations to Texas, and there is talk of using other substances like carbon dioxide or nitrogen.

               Academics see a number of challenges associated with propane fracking, which few if any companies are experimenting with in Texas, apart from GasFrac. First, according to David Yoxtheimer, an extension associate with the Marcellus Center for Outreach & Research at Penn State University.  “you’ve got to truck in a lot of propane,” which can be expensive. He also said the propane “works less effectively in deeper formations where you need to build up more pressure.” he noted, there is a reason that companies use water, namely that it is "virtually incompressible" and thus is very effective in bringing pressure against, and ultimately breaking up, rock.

               Tudor disagrees that these issues pose problems. He pointed out that the virtually all the propane — which is a byproduct of natural gas processing and oil refining — gets reused. Supplies of propane come from Corpus Christi, he said, and the fuel is "easily available" in South Texas. "We won't cause any shortages," he said.That is an implicit contrast with the considerable water needs of conventional fracking, which already accounts for a double-digit percentage of water use in some rural Texas counties. The water leftover from fracking operations typically does not get reused. Instead, it gets discarded into a disposal well. (The Texas Railroad Commission on Tuesday approved rules to make it easier for companies to recycle water.)

               Tudor also said that his company had fracked at depths well over 10,000 feet.

               An advantage of propane fracks, said Yoxtheimer, is that they avoid the damage to the oil and gas-producing formation that water can cause.

“If you’re using water, the water can actually block off or at least impede the flow of hydrocarbons,” he said.

               Tudor agreed, saying that his company could recover a higher percentage of the oil or gas with propane than with a traditional water frack job. It was this increased production, rather than the reduced use of water, that enticed GasFrac's customers, he said.

               David Burnett, research coordinator at the Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University, said that more study is needed. Evidence that the wells fracked with propane are more productive is “sort of anecdotal data,” he said.

               As for the risks of handling flammable material like propane, “Our industry is used to handling high-pressure gas and pumping flammable liquids,” Burnett said. “It’s not an issue if the equipment is designed properly.” The risks, he added, are “no more worrisome than a propane tank on the edge of town.”

               Marathon Oil has begun using a new formula, which it describes as a “guar mix commonly used in ice cream and other food products,” to reduce its water use

Over” the last 18 months, she said, Marathon has cut its water use by 45 percent per well.

For the article see:


11. Spectra Energy Tries to Ignore Problem

               Spectra Energy is a gas pipeline and storage company with a track record that looks like a police rap sheet.  Despite its actual performance, it snags merit badges for good citizenship' that it celebrates in press releases. 

In Clearville, Pennsylvania, there appeared to be a problem at the company's Steckman Ridge facility -- a 12-billion cubic feet underground natural gas storage reservoir with a 5,000 horsepower compressor station -- and a bad attitude toward its neighbors. Hours of firecracker-like noises and what appeared to be smoke coming from the compressor station triggered 911 calls from neighbors.  The arrival of emergency responders annoyed Spectra Energy.  A "Director of Stakeholder Outreach" (great title, eh?) located nearly 500 miles away, declared: "Nothing was released. There was no smoke. No incident."

               Thanks to the persistence of Property Owner Angel Smith and Associate Editor Elizabeth Coyle, of the Bedford Gazette, Spectra Energy's denials began to crumble. By the next day, the company was forced to admit there was an incident involving a valve and a release of methane and other hydrocarbons.  But the company refuses to say how much methane was released and exactly why the valve activated and released methane.  In other words, was there an "unexpected event" that occurred?  If so, what was the reason?

               This incident was surrounded by other, related problems for Spectra Energy.

               *Trillium Asset Management, a large socially responsible investor group with over $1 BILLION in assets under management, filed a shareholder resolution requesting a report from Spectra Energy's Board of Directors on its fugitive methane emissions.  Trillium's public challenge to Spectra Energy pulled no punches: "We believe Spectra Energy's social license to operate is at risk and the company has a responsibility to implement a program of measurement, mitigation, and disclosure."

               *Meanwhile, the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), issued Spectra Energy CEO Greg Ebel a "Final Order" and civil penalty of $134,500 related to various violations across several states. Included in this Order, the company was cited for failure regarding valve inspections.  As PHMSA said in its statement:  "An operator that fails to follow its own procedures for valve inspections increases the risk of preventable pipeline accidents.”

               * Spectra Energy has a long, documented record of problems.  It includes violations, explosions and fines (including a 15 million dollar federal fine).  Further, Spectra Energy’s history at its Steckman Ridge facility includes an on-the-record statement filed by the company with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  In its own document, Spectra Energy uses Webster’s dictionary definition of “lying” to support the company’s assertion that, “There is no evidence of willful ‘lying’ by any Project Representative to landowners.”

               In order to help Spectra Energy with its "Stakeholder Outreach," we review these details and provide an easy-to-use guide that highlights the company's track record; and we provide it's original document to FERC which uses the dictionary definition of lying as a defense of its behavior.”

To read the article: Spectra Energy Flip-Flops:



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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