Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates April 11, 2013
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* 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
Sponsor: Earth Day Network
March begins Northshore/Allegheny River - rally at PA DEP office
Washington's Landing Pittsburgh, PA
See map: Google Maps
Michael Krancer is leaving Pennsylvania’s Dept. of Environmental Protection, after two years as its Secretary. That’s good news! Mr. Krancer has bent DEP into a tool for the fracking industry. But Gov. Tom Corbett will still choose his successor.
A state-wide “Day of Action” has been declared for this Earth Day, April 22, with rallies at each of the PA DEP regional offices—Harrisburg, Meadville, Norristown, Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre, and Williamsport. The coalition, which already includes 40 environmental organizations & grassroots fracktivist groups, is demanding that DEP fulfill its mission to “protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water” and “provide for the health and safety of its citizens.”
In Pittsburgh, we’ll march to the DEP office on Washington’s Landing, beginning from the North Shore Trail along the Allegheny River. The march is scheduled to begin at 2:00pm, on Monday, April 22, with a rally to follow at DEP.
For updates, and details about actions across Pennsylvania, email email@example.com or check our calendar at www.marcellusprotest.org
***Special Earth Day Fair - Renewable Energy
St Vincent College- Sunday , April 21, 12-4 pm and talk at 4 pm
Commercial providers of many renewable systems will be at SVC
See details at SVC web site and Winnie Palmer web site
***Earth Day at Ligonier UU Church, Rt 30- April 14 Jan will talk about fracking, Earth Day music 10:30 am
TAKE ACTION !!
***Call for Moratorium in PA-Link Provided
It's time to stop the frack attack in Pennsylvania.
The gas industry has gotten away with far too much for far too long, and the pressure is on to put a moratorium on drilling that would protect the entire state.
The moratorium would mean a full stop to drilling; at least until a comprehensive study can show that fracking is definitely safe for Pennsylvania's communities and climate. It would also mean critical breathing room for the parts of the state that have been overrun with drilling in the past few years.
Organizations from across PA have gathered 85,000 signatures in support of a stop to drilling, and the goal is to reach 100,000 before delivering them to the Governor at the end of this month.
Can you add your name to the call for a halt to fracking in Pennsylvania? Governor Corbett signed a fracking moratorium that protects only a small part of the state, but we know that drilling is leaving its mark in many more places.
That limited moratorium came as a result of powerful pressure from the grassroots movement in Pennsylvania. Hitting 100,000 names in support of a stop to drilling would be an important symbol and put notable pressure on leaders in the statehouse to take action. (The folks at PennEnvironment who have been leading this effort say that 100,000 signatures would make it the biggest petition in the state in decades)
The stakes are crystal clear for Pennsylvania and the planet: the International Energy Agency has said that allowing the fracking boom to continue would warm the earth by a catastrophic 4 degrees Celsius. A moratorium on drilling is the first step towards a renewable energy future that Pennsylvania deserves.
.Thanks for everything,
Linda From: Linda Capato - 350.org
Click here to add your name, and let's keep putting the pressure on
***Write letters to Assoc. Press About Bias of AP Reporter Kevin Begos
Begos is the AP natural gas reporter. The vast majority of his reports have a clear pro industry slant.
This is the email address I found for AP: firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you receive a local paper that publishes Begos, please write a letter to your news editor complaining about Begos’ column. I cancelled my subscription to the Latrobe Bulletin because of this AP reporter.
(See my letter, last item)
***Environmental Justice Film Series:
The Price of Sand and Triple Divide.
For additional information contact: Wanda Guthrie 412-596-0066 or email: email@example.com
The Price of Sand: Saturday evening, April 20, 7pm Saturday evening, The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5700 Forbes Avenue (Squirrel Hill Community) 15217
In parts of rural Wisconsin, the presence of sand mines is something you can feel, smell or taste. The presence of those mines and the trucks hauling its powdery sands toward natural gas drilling sites has been devastating. The sand is an essential ingredient in the fracking process.
Sand, fracking, and health : It has been tough for residents of Pennsylvania to prove that natural gas production is harmful to health. It has been equally difficult for our Midwest neighbors to convince the public of the health hazards posed by the frack sand mining.
Triple Divide: Monday evening, April 29, 7pm, 5401 Centre Ave Pittsburgh, PA (Shadyside Community)15232
Through personal stories, experts and public documents, Triple Divide tells a cautionary tale about the consequences of fracking, including contamination of water, air and land; intimidation and harassment of citizens; loss of property, investments and standard of living; weak and under enforced state regulations; decay of public trust; illness; fragmentation of Pennsylvania’s last stands of core forest; and lack of protection over basic human rights.
The film begins at one of only four triple continental divides on the North American continent in Potter County, Pennsylvania, where everything is downstream. From this peak, rain is sent to three sides of the continent—the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada, Chesapeake Bay on the eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. This vast water basin is drained by three major rivers—the Allegheny, Genesee and Susquehanna. These waterways rank among the most coveted trout streams in the U.S., helping to create a regenerative tourism economy upon which locals have depended for generations. At this “watershed moment” in Pennsylvania’s history, which way will the future flow?
The documentary filmmakers, Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman, will lead a question and answer session.
***New Outstanding Video by Geomicrobiologist Yuri Gorby
Excellent short video to pass on. Includes Raina Rippel, Carol Moten, Randy Moyer, Rep. Jesse White, Ron Gulla, the Headleys. Families and workers discuss health problems.
***Watch Triple Divide Online for 13 Days
The filmmakers of Triple Divide, a new investigative documentary co-narrated by actor Mark Ruffalo, will host an Online Premiere between April 8th and 20th. For a $5 donation, online users can watch the film for 48 hours at rent.tripledividefilm.org.
This 18-month, cradle-to-grave investigation by Public Herald, an investigative news nonprofit co-founded by journalists Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman, features uncovered state documents, never before seen interviews with industry giants and advocates, exclusive reports with impacted landowners, and expert testimonies.
With stunning cinematography, the film reveals how state regulators are using compliance as a means of “regulating” without enforcing the law, abandoning the public and environment in the wake of shale gas development.
Triple Divide’s title represents one of only four Triple Continental Divides in North America, a place that provides drinking water to millions of Americans and feeds rivers that reach three separate sides of the continent. It signals to the audience that everything, and everyone, is downstream from shale gas extraction.
Organizations United for The Environment call it the “best documentary on fracking, ever!”
Writer Elizabeth Hoffman said, “Troutman and Pribanic document several cases of people sickened by fracking...violations with no consequences...drillers proceeding without authorization...drillers with violations nevertheless getting new permits...[and] scientists raising serious questions about the whole mess.”
Judy Bear, a water well driller and the first female director of Pennsylvania Groundwater Association, provides her insight in Triple Divide and asks what should concern every citizen: “Who is protecting the residents of this state if our own state is not willing to do it?”
Note: Screeners of the film are available for those wishing to write a review.
From the Offices of Public Herald Nonprofit Investigative News
For more information contact:
Apr Editor-in-chief and Triple Divide filmmaker Joshua B. Pribanic
Investigative fracking documentary available April 8 thru 20
*** ‘Fracking & Public Health’ on You Tube
Seminar held at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa
***To sign up for notifications of activity and violations for your area:
***Headley Story on WTAE
***List of Harmed Now on Fracktracker
***New link for Carol Jean Moten interview on YouTube-from bob
“This was taken off of YouTube last week by unknown persons. It went viral in Australia, Ireland, England & facebook. Now it’s back in the USA. This was filmed in Avella, Washington County, Pa. The same illnesses are shown in Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and other areas around the world where fracking is being done.”
***Vacancies on Derry Area Boards According to the Latrobe Bulletin there are 4 vacancies on Derry Borough governing boards including zoning boards. Good people are needed on these local boards.
***Notes from Recent Meeting
Dr David Brown of SW PA Environmental Health Project-at St Vincent
Natural Gas Operations and Infant Health Study -Elaine Hill
(I don’t think the following study has been peer reviewed as of yet, but Dr Brown has made the point in repeated lectures that it is the mission of public heath officials to look at assessments and interviews with residents who experience health problems to determine a course of action to prevent further illness. Public health officials cannot wait on long- term studies and research results before they take action to protect public health. Jan)
**This paper provides estimates of the eﬀects of natural gas operations on infant health—Low Birth Weight and APgar scores
“There are no other known studies, to date, linking NGO directly to human health at this scale. These results suggest that natural gas wells close to pregnant mothers’ residences increased Low Birth Weight and reduced 5 minute APGAR scores by 26% points and more than one standard deviation, respectively when compared to pregnant mothers’ residences that are close to a future well (permit). These impacts are large, but not implausible given the estimates found in the literature for LBW. The estimates for 5 minute APGAR scores are similar in magnitude to those found by Almond et al. (2005) for mothers who smoked in utero.”
The study: http://paa2012.princeton.edu/papers/121180
**There are no federal MCLs (maximum contaminant levels) set for most of the chemicals being found near wells
**Measurements are often being averaged, which is not applicable since humans are exposed to the highs and lows of emissions, not an average. It is the peak measurements we need to know.
** Measurements of toxins can vary enormously depending on various factors including wind. A measurement at ½ mile from a compressor station can go from 5 to 444 ug depending on air and wind.
**There is not a government registry of health effects from gas operations.
1. DEP To Begin Testing for Radioactivity
“The PA DEP will begin testing for radioactivity in waste products from natural gas well drilling.
The study also will test radiation levels for the equipment involved in the transportation, storage and disposal of drilling wastes.
“We are sampling the wastewater and wastes, the treatment equipment used to treat it, the trucks used to transport it, the tanks and pits used to store it and the landfills or treatment plants used to dispose of it,” said DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday.
According to DEP data regarding the study, among the substances to be tested for are Radium-226, Radium-228, Uranium-238, Uranium-235, Uranium-234, Thorium-232, Radon-220 and Radon-222.
Gov. Tom Corbett’s announcement Jan. 24 of the DEP’s plan to study radiation in natural gas drilling wastewater came on the heels of extensive questioning by Shalereporter.com regarding radioactivity in fracking wastewater, regulation of the wastewater’s transport and the potential health effects of exposure to fracking wastewater, all issues covered in the series “Under the Radar,” which was published beginning Jan. 25.
Before it announced the study, the DEP had consistently denied radiation in fracking waste was even an issue. The agency told Shalereporter.com in past interviews that it did not measure radium concentrations or activities in brine, did not believe the potentially radioactive water was making its way into waterways, and that it was the sole entity in charge of the “handling, transport, disposal, storage and recycling of brine,” despite the fact that it did not measure the brine for elevated levels of radiation.
The regulatory agency also previously said it was “not aware of any evidence to suggest flowback contains dangerous amounts of radiation,” despite several reports to the contrary by environmental groups and one by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Despite plans to study the issue, the DEP maintains that radiation in relation to natural gas drilling does not pose a health risk.
The DEP also said in the release that it “routinely reviews radioactivity data in wastes that the drilling industry and other industries generate, and the information obtained to date indicates very low levels of natural radioactivity.”
Radiation levels in fracking wastewater were first addressed in a December 2011 U.S. Geological Survey report that found that millions of barrels of wastewater from unconventional wells in Pennsylvania and conventional wells in New York were 3,609 times more radioactive than the federal limit for drinking water and 300 times more radioactive than a Nuclear Regulatory Commission limit for nuclear plant discharges.
The report’s author, USGS research geologist Mark Engle, said fracking flowback from the Marcellus shale contains higher radiation levels than similar shale formations.
“There (isn’t) a lot of data but in general, the Marcellus appears to be anomalously high,” Engle said in a previous interview.
The USGS is still studying the issue, sampling wastewater from all types of oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, North Dakota and Montana.”
“So just what will be tested for radioactivity?
Below are some of the major places from which samples will be taken in the DEP’s study of radioactivity in relation to oil and gas development:
• Twenty-two of the state’s largest Marcellus shale wastewater treatment plants• Drill cuttings
• Onsite pits containing drill cuttings
• Production water
• Fracking wastewater
• Compressed gas lines
• Well pads
• Centralized impoundments
• Wastewater facility sludge
• Wastewater facility influent and effluent water
• Drilling mud
• Drilling equipment,
• Treatment solids and sediments at well pads
• Landfill leachate
• Compressor stations
• Storage tanks
• Drill rigs”
By Rachel Morgan Shalereporter.com
2. Supreme Court Vacancy and Act 13
(KDKA) — “The impact of the conviction and resignation of former Justice Joan Orie Melvin is already being felt with a stalled decision on a matter of vital importance.
“This affects the health, safety and welfare of our communities. It protects the children,” said Deron Gabriel, the commissioner of South Fayette.
Act 13, which says that oil and gas rights trump local zoning codes, would allow drilling within 300 feet of residential neighborhoods and schools like South Fayette Elementary.
Without Melvin, justices on the court have hinted that they are deadlocked 3 to 3 on this case and others. Gabriel is concerned a governor-appointed justice will tip the balance in favor of the act.
“Our biggest fear is that the process would allow for essentially case-fixing or tampering by the governor where he would appoint a seventh justice to get a result that he wanted in the case,” said Gabriel.
“What this does is establish a very clear, concise, consistent standard across Pennsylvania,” said Steve Forde, of the Marcellus Coalition.
The shale gas industry, which supported the legislation, argues that Act 13 actually strengthens protections by increasing setback distances and imposing impact fees.
But in this case, a tie means a victory for the opponents of Act 13. And they are calling on their legislators to have the case decided now.
“They can demand that the pending cases be decided and released prior to an appointment being confirmed,” Garbriel said.
But right now, everything is on hold awaiting the governor’s appointment and awaiting whether that new justice can decide this very important case.”
And from Citizens’ Voice
“Convicted last month of corruption charges, Melvin announced her resignation this week to spare herself an impeachment proceeding to remove her from office.
Gov. Tom Corbett said he will nominate an interim justice to fill the vacancy until January 2016 when a successor elected in 2015 would take office.
The governor's nominee will need a two-thirds vote or 34 senators to get confirmed. This means a measure of bipartisan cooperation is needed. Republicans control the chamber 27-23 with Democrats in the minority. That means at least seven Democrats must vote yes if all the GOP senators go along with Corbett's nominee.
The Supreme Court is currently split 3-3 along party lines with major cases involving the 2014 reapportionment of state legislative seats, the fate of the voter identification law and local government zoning jurisdiction under the natural gas drilling impact fee law before it. The last two cases involve polarizing issues that have attracted considerable public interest.”
3. Energy Nominee Ernest Moniz Criticized for Ties to Industry
“Congress will review the Obama Administration's nomination of Ernest Moniz for Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) in hearings that start April 9.
Moniz has come under fire for his outspoken support of nuclear power,hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for shale gas, and the overarching "all-of-the-above" energy policy advocated by both President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent in the last election, Mitt Romney.
Watchdogs have also discovered that Moniz has worked as a long-time corporate consultant for BP. He has also received the "frackademic" label for his time spent at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At his MIT job, Moniz regularly accepted millions of dollars from the oil and gas industry to sponsor studies under the auspices of The MIT Energy Initiative, which has received over $145 million over its seven-year history from the oil and gas industry.
MIT's "The Future of Natural Gas" report, covered by many mainstream media outlets without any effort to question who bankrolled it, was funded chiefly by the American, a front group for the shale gas industry's number two domestic producer, Chesapeake Energy. That report concluded that gas is a "bridge fuel" for a renewable energy future and said that shale gas exports were in the best economic interests of the United States, which should "not erect barriers to natural gas imports and exports."
As first revealed on DeSmogBlog, Moniz is also on the Board of Directors of ICF International, one of the three corporate consulting firms tasked to perform the Supplemental Environmental Impact Study (SEIS) for TransCanada's Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline. KXL is slated to bring tar sands - also known as diluted bitumen from Alberta to Port Arthur, TX, where it will be sold to the highest bidder on the global export market.
If he receives congressional confirmation, this means Moniz will jump ship from his ICF Board of Directors position and have the final say over DOE LNG export decisions. “
4. Judge Says Obama Violated the Law In CA
“ A federal judge has ruled that the Obama Administration violated the law when it issued oil leases in Monterey County, Calif., without considering the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. The ruling came in response to a suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, challenging a September 2011 decision by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to auction off about 2,500 acres of land in southern Monterey County to oil companies.
“This important decision recognizes that fracking poses new, unique risks to California’s air, water and wildlife that government agencies can’t ignore,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, who argued the case for the plaintiffs. “This is a watershed moment—the first court opinion to find a federal lease sale invalid for failing to address the monumental dangers of fracking.”
Fracking employs huge volumes of water mixed with sand and toxic chemicals to blast open rock formations and extract oil and gas. The controversial technique is already being used in hundreds—perhaps thousands—of California oil and gas wells. Oil companies are aggressively trying to frack the Monterey Shale, which stretches from the northern San Joaquin Valley into Los Angeles County, and west to the coast. Extracting this oil will certainly require more fracking in California.”
5. Sierra Club, Earthworks, Delaware Riverkeeper, and Others Petition DOE on Exporting Gas
“Today, the Sierra Club and a list of environmental coalition partners have filed a petition with the Department of Energy (DOE) to revise the nearly 30-year-old policy guidelines for approving natural gas exports. The petition urges the DOE to establish new regulations or guidance, defining how the DOE will review and approve applications to develop liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals.
Organizations that have signed the petition include Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Center for Biological Diversity, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Earthworks, Environment America, Friends of the Earth and Rogue Riverkeeper.
The LNG export applications now before the DOE will significantly alter the shape of American energy policy if granted even in substantial part, and have the potential to make the U.S. one of the largest exporters of natural gas in the world.
The Sierra Club and its coalition partners are asking the DOE to open a public comment process in which citizens and experts can generate dialogue, contribute critical feedback and provide proposals on how to best revise the outdated policy guidelines.
“The U.S. has never before exported substantial quantities of natural gas beyond North America, said Deb Nardone, director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas campaign. “Exporting natural gas will have serious implications for public health, the environment and climate change. It is imperative that the DOE takes this matter seriously and engages in an open dialogue with the public to determine if exports really are for the good of the people.”
Members of the environmental coalition want the DOE to ensure that the updated policy guidelines are fully informed by transparent and thorough economic and environmental assessments, which the Natural Gas Act and National Environmental Policy Act require. The coalition says that the recent economic study produced last December by NERA Consulting was flawed and should be rejected due to its lack of completed assessments.”
6. Why The Compressor Station Permitting Process Doesn’t’ Work
Barto Compressor Station Exceeds Pollution Standards
The Clean Air Council has conducted a study of the Barto Compression Station in Penn Township, Lycoming County. The study finds the station is creating pollution concentrations nearly three times the amount allowed under the federal health-based air quality standards.
Back in 2011, Chief Gathering and Williams each had plans to each construct compressor stations and metering stations approximately 1,500 ft from the Dallas, PA school campus. There are 5 schools, K-12, on the campus where over 3,000 children attend, plus the few hundred people who work in the schools. The campus is located in a residential area. The proposed compressor/metering stations would have been located near people’s homes.
Parents and taxpayers of Dallas were understandably concerned, and with the assistance of GDAC formed a citizens group to stop the construction. During the hearings, it was agreed town officials, and PA House/Senate legislators for this district would take a tour of a compressor station. Originally the tour was to be of the Barto Station. At the last minute it was changed, and the officials toured a nice clean and quiet station instead. In fact, the station was shut down for “maintenance” at the time of the tour.
Chief Gathering withdrew its proposal for the compressor station, as did Williams and constructed them in next door Wyoming County. There is one metering station operated by Williams, in the backyard of residents in the area.
The Barto station started out with 1 building and 3 compressors. This is how the creeping compressors begin. A natural gas corporation applies for a DEP permit for 3-4 compressors. Because of the size and number of compressors, it usually falls under what DEP calls a “minor pollutant” and the regulations are less strict.
Next, the natural gas corporation applies for a second permit for another 3-4 compressors. Because each permit is viewed as separate, this second permit also falls under the “minor pollutant” standards. The DEP does not upgrade to “major pollutant” level even though the number of compressors at a single location has increased. EACH PERMIT IS VIEWED AND ASSESSED SEPARATELY. From there, a 3rd, 4th etc permits are approved, with each just falling under the threshold and are approved as minor pollutants.
The Barto station now has 2 buildings with a total of 14 compressors (7 in each building), 9 of which are operational, and it is assumed the remaining 5 are back-ups.
MARCELLUS SHALE COMPRESSOR STATION EXCEEDING POLLUTION STANDARD BY NEARLY THREE TIMES THE ALLOWABLE LIMIT
Clean Air Council The Barto Compressor Station in Penn Township, Lycoming County is creating pollution concentrations nearly three times the amount allowed under the federal health-based air quality standards. Recent modeling results show that the compressor station, which pressurizes natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale to achieve the desired flow along pipelines, is on its own causing nitrogen dioxide pollution 278 percent over the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). The modeling shows that exceedances can be measured a mile away from the station. Emission of oxides of nitrogen must be reduced by up to 76 percent in order to stay below unhealthful levels.
The Barto Compressor Station, owned and operated by Chief Gathering, LLC, consists of nine compressor engines. Oxides of nitrogen are formed by fuel combustion within the engines. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a new 1-hour nitrogen dioxide NAAQS in January 2010. The standard was established at a level determined to protect the public from adverse health effects associated with short-term exposure to elevated levels of oxides of nitrogen. Health impacts include increased asthma symptoms, difficult controlling asthma and increases in respiratory illnesses. Furthermore, nitrogen dioxide contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone which can trigger a variety of health problems.
Clean Air Council has repeatedly requested that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) require modeling for larger compressor stations to ensure that they do not cause pollution that will exceed the federal health-based standard in nearby areas. PA DEP, however, responds that because these sources are classified as “minor sources” of emissions they are not required to perform modeling and that by virtue of being a minor source the facility will not impact the NAAQS. However, while modeling is not required for a minor source, Pennsylvania law gives PA DEP ample authority to request modeling. This recent modeling study makes clear that these “minor sources” are having a major impact on local air quality and PA DEP must address this serious pollution.
The natural gas industry from drilling to compressor stations, dehydration plants, and pipelines are impacting all of us. We are all downstream and downwind.”
7. EPA's Preliminary TRI Data for 2011 Show Increase in Releases From Prior Year-The Gas Industry Does not Have to Report This Data
(It is clear that it would be of value to have this data from the gas industry on chemicals released and transferred. Again, they are exempt. Jan)
The EPA has issued its most recent set of preliminary data on toxic chemical releases and transfers at industrial facilities nationwide, with the data showing an increase in releases for 2011.
The public can now access all of the data reported to the Toxics Release Inventory for Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2011. The inventory provides information on toxic chemicals produced and used at industrial facilities and how they are managed, through the online tools Envirofacts and TRI Explorer.
Current data in TRI Explorer show that total on- and off-site releases increased from 3.8 billion pounds in 2010 to 4.1 billion pounds in 2011.
Latest List Includes New Chemicals.
The preliminary data for 2011 set included information from 20,927 facilities on 513 chemicals.
Sixteen of the chemicals, classified as carcinogens by the National Toxicology Program, were reported to TRI for the first time in 2011 (34 CRR 1145, 11/29/10).
The new chemicals are: 1-amino-2,4-dibromoanthraquinone; 2,2-bis(bromomethyl)-1,3-propanediol; furan; glycidol; isoprene; methyleugenol; 1,6-dinitropyrene; 1,8-dinitropyrene; 6-nitrochrysene; 4-nitropyrene; o-nitroanisole; nitromethane; phenolphthalein; tetrafluoroethylene, tetranitromethane; and vinyl fluoride.
Releases and transfers of reported carcinogens have doubled since 2008, while those of persistent, bio-accumulative, and toxic compounds (PBTs) have risen by about one-third.
Manufacturing, metal mining, coal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste treatment facilities are among the 26 industries that must report to TRI. EPA is considering adding reporting requirements for iron ore mining, phosphate mining, solid waste combustors and incinerators, large dry cleaners, petroleum bulk storage, and steam generation from coal or oil (36 CRR 75, 1/16/12).
The metal mining industry, which usually accounts for the largest share of toxics reported by industries, became an even larger contributor to the inventory in 2011, reaching 46 percent of total releases, according to the latest data. In 2008, metal mining made up 30 percent of total releases.
EPA expects to release a National Analysis for 2011 TRI data in EPA's Toxics Release Inventory reporting tool Envirofacts is available at http://www.epa.gov/enviro/facts/tri/search.html.
Letter to Editor, Re: Kevin Begos
I cancelled my subscription to the Latrobe Bulletin, a newspaper I have enjoyed tremendously, due to the inadequate and biased reporting of Kevin Begos on hydraulic fracturing. I ask that you please replace him with a journalist who is able to present news that balances the benefit of profit versus the deleterious effects of drilling on environment, property rights, and health. I do not know if the problem is Kevin Begos or a general AP position on drilling. I will provide a few examples of skewed writing by Begos. I have seen other on- line comments by readers disgusted with Begos’s reporting. (I have also quoted a few lines from a letter to the editor by Stephen Luffy of Latrobe PA)
Begos wrote of environmental organizations that were considering supporting fracking, quoting the benefits of drilling. He wrote nothing of the numerous organizations such as Clean Water Action, Mountain Watershed, Penn Environment, NRDC, (there are many more) that have serious concerns regarding hydraulic fracturing as one of the most toxic industrial operations to invade Pennsylvania communities.
Begos quoted PennFuture’s statement that gas powered plants burn cleaner, but twisted that to a claim that gas results in improved overall air quality: “natural gas is having a positive effect on air quality”. He omitted any testimony from scientists who state unequivocally that gas operations will increase serious health and environmental problems in areas fractured for gas.
Begos wrote about the Duke University brine migration study, interpreting it as a vindication of the industry. The headline of his article read, “Drilling Did Not Contaminate Drinking Water Wells”, emphasizing that the brine examined was not from fracking. But he ignored important data that was actually the headline of other news articles:
“ But there is concern that the presence of the brine suggests there are "natural pathways" leading up to aquifers from far below the surface, and that these pathways might allow gases from shale-gas wells to put drinking-water supplies at risk.”
Begos cited sources that denied any basis for linking Texas gas facility pollution to breast cancer increases, writing that there were virtually no reports available that indicated an increase in breast cancer. . He did not cite sources that did point to a link.
From the Denton Record Chronicle:
“According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's 2010 inventory of gas production equipment in the 24 counties of the Barnett Shale, the same six counties with rising rates of invasive breast cancer also have the highest count of compressors, separators, tanks and other above-ground points of emissions”. While not proof of causation, this data raised concerns.
Begos also takes issue with reports on air pollution from gas operations, arguing that coal plants emit more pollution than gas-powered plants. Apples and oranges. Begos ignores irrefutable data about pollution from total gas operations i.e., wells, compressor stations, processing plants, valves, and condensate tanks. Combined, these facilities, being built near homes and schools, produce huge amounts of toxic air pollution: thousands of pounds of nitrogen oxide, VOCs, and disease- causing chemicals like benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde.
When AP covered shale waste being moved by barge in Pittsburgh the reporter, this unsigned article, did quote Clean Water Action. The reporter then quoted John Jack of GreenHunter Water as saying “nobody told us that we couldn’t move shale wastewater by barge.“ The AP reporter left out an important clarifying quote that other news sources carried- that is the quote from the Coast Guard stating unequivocally that moving the waste by barge was illegal:
“CMDR Roldan of the Coast Guard, noted that current regulations are confusing but said, “No they’re not allowed. You may want to tell them before we catch them.” (Post Gazette, Emily Demarco)
When Begos covered information from Carnegie Mellon researchers on water quality problems in the Mon River that may have been linked to drilling, he wrote an entire article about how the problem was disappearing but never included data that the very same researchers released noting that the Allegheny is having conductivity problems.
Here’s that story from another source: “The good news is that bromine levels in the Monongahela have decreased significantly, bromine content being a direct marker for disposed fracking wastewater. As reported by Carnegie Mellon researchers, the same was not true for the water in the Allegheny River, suggesting that dumping of untreated frack water is still occurring north of Pittsburgh. The bad news is that there are as many as 200,000 abandoned gas wells in Pennsylvania, and they can provide pathways for methane gas released by fresh drilling to leak to the surface, as happened at a Shell operation in June. Problem is, DEP does not know where all these old wells are.”
The shale news Begos reports is almost always positive, for example, “Billions in Gas drilling Royalties Transform Lives.” But the negative side of those reports and other critical issues receive little or no coverage: local zoning destroyed by the industry, community groups fighting for their rights, farmers report sick cattle, numerous violations not receiving fines, property values negatively affected, families’ health affected- the now common frack rash, nosebleeds, and other health problems which arose after drilling started ( The list of those harmed in PA has now reached over 800 individuals). Readers have to look to the Post Gazette’s Don Hopey, Pro Publica, Alternet, EWire, and other sources to find that news.
I quote this from another reader who wrote of Begos’s bias: “Readers should expect fair and accurate information from reporters who are paid to do their homework. Sound, unbiased reporting can serve to help achieve better regulation of the industry and justice for residents working to preserve their communities.” What we are getting is poor journalism without the data checks and investigation readers expect from AP news.
Letter to the Editor Re: Hallowich
April 10, 2013 - Gas industry shills, as witnessed in the 4/9 Letter from Mr. Garcia; “Media leap to assumptions about Marcellus health impacts” are desperate to squash any news of sick families being created by Marcellus Shale gas production. We have known the Hallowich family since 2009 and know firsthand of their plight after being surrounded by gas production facilities in their own toxic ‘Gasland.’ Their young daughter awoke at night with unusual nosebleeds, both children looked sickly, and much more. Hardly “baseless claims” as energy industry employed Mr. Garcia implies. Their health issues were real and greed was not a factor, while moving their family away from the toxins was a doctor recommended top priority. Hopefully everyday citizens will see this as another industry ploy to destroy good people’s reputations while pulling the wool over your eyes. After all, gas production is filthy business.
Bob was responding to a letter to the editor. Excerpt: “The recently unsealed documents include an affidavit from the homeowners that "there is presently no medical evidence" to support their own prior statements to the gullible media about health impacts ("Newspapers Seek Release of Shale Settlement," March 23). The affidavit also explicitly states that the children "are healthy and have no symptoms that may allegedly be related" to nearby natural gas development.” DAN GARCIA