Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates May 9, 2013
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3 CRITICAL ACTION ALERTS!! Can you take 10 minutes?
***Tell the Pennsylvania General Assembly: Don't subsidize the fracking industry
Sign the petition
“Subsidizing fracked natural gas vehicles is a dangerous waste of money. Kill the "Marcellus Works" package of bills being pushed by pro-fracking Republicans.
Pennsylvania House Republicans are pushing to give a multimillion-dollar handout to the fracking industry.
They're pushing a package of bills--dubiously called the "Marcellus Works" package by their supporters--that would create huge subsidies to incentivize the production of vehicles that run on fracked natural gas. Three bills have already passed in the House and are headed for the Senate. The rest could come up for a floor vote very soon.1 2 3
Pennsylvanians are already suffering from the toxic effects of fracking. It's unconscionable to try to expand the demand for fracked gas by subsidizing a natural gas vehicle buildout at government expense.
Tell the Pennsylvania General Assembly: Don't waste millions of dollars subsidizing fracked natural gas vehicles.
As all too many Pennsylvanians know, fracking is a serious threat to the health of nearby communities, not a formula for economic growth. Subsidies for the fracking industry may increase the industry's profits, but they'll hurt Pennsylvanians.
Furthermore, plowing millions of dollars into natural gas vehicles and fueling stations makes no sense when we know that we have to transition off of fossil fuels, including natural gas, to avoid climate catastrophe.
Encouraging a buildout of fracked gas infrastructure is a dangerous waste of money and a craven handout to the fracking industry. We need to shame the legislators responsible for this package of bills and encourage more moderate legislators to kill the legislation.”
Tell the Pennsylvania General Assembly: Don't waste millions of dollars subsidizing fracked natural gas vehicles.
*** Money from Wind and Solar to Go to Gas!
Don't let dirty fuel interests weaken Pennsylvania's clean energy programs
A bill to give gas the same incentives normally reserved for wind and solar has been introduced in the state legislature. This is nothing short of a back-door attempt to repeal Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) and clean energy programs.
Tell your state rep (the link to legislators contact info is listed at the top of the newsletter) that gas does not deserve clean energy incentives!
If passed, this bill will allow gas to count for all of Pennsylvania's clean energy sources, remove incentives for developing cleaner energy sources like wind and solar. Don't let dirty fuel interests frack Pennsylvania’s clean energy jobs away!
Tell your representative that we need to promote true clean energy sources, not natural gas.
The purpose of the AEPS is to help grow a new, pollution-free energy industry in Pennsylvania. Fracking for gas creates serious air and water pollution problems and contributes to climate disruption. In addition to harming public health, this will put thousands of good clean, renewable energy jobs in jeopardy. When it comes to clean energy, we should be doubling down, not watering down our investment.
Thanks for all you do to protect the environment,
Randy Francisco, Pennsylvania Beyond Coal, Sierra Club
***Breathe Act and Fresher Act
The FRESHER Act would close a Clean Water Act loophole and hold oil and gas companies to the same standards as other industries by requiring them to obtain storm water runoff permits for construction and drilling activities. In addition, the bill directs regulators to study the effects of dirty storm water runoff from fracking operations on public lands. Drilling and its related construction activities can cause significant amounts of soil erosion and result in fossil fuel polluted sediments reaching our streams and waterways. Left unchecked, this pollution degrades drinking water, harms aquatic habitats, and creates increased costs for local water authorities.
The BREATHE Act would restore Clean Air Act protections for communities experiencing intensive oil and gas drilling operations where the industry operates large numbers of wells in close proximity to each other. Right now, many gas wells fall squarely within a loophole in the Clean Air Act that allows them to release more toxic air pollution with fewer emission controls than other larger industrial polluters --even though the cumulative air pollution from all of these closely associated wells can be quite toxic and harmful to people and communities. This bill would also require that toxic hydrogen sulfide gas, which can be released during drilling operations, be added to the list of hazardous air pollutants that industry must control.
Calendar of Events
*** Westmoreland County Commissioners Meeting - 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the county courthouse at 10:00
From Marcellus Protest Calendar:
May 11 (Pittsburgh, PA): Frack Forum (1:00 pm). Fourth bimonthly Frack Forum, at the Friends Meeting House in Shadyside (Pittsburgh). Pot-luck lunch followed by “How to Fight the Frackers—An Organizers’ Panel” featuring four local groups.
May 21 (State-wide): Primary Election Day.
May 22 (Washington, DC): Stop the Frack Attack. Come to DC, lobby your representatives, and attend Senate Committee sessions . Marcellus Protest is one of 140 Member Organizations of the Stop the Frack Attack Network.
*** “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:
***To view companies with the most violations
***List of the Harmed--There are now over 1200 names of residents of Pennsylvania who became sick after fracking began in their area and have placed their name on the list of the harmed. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
***VIDEO: Presentations by gas workers whose health has been affected. Mac Sawyer, Joe Giovaninni, Robert McCaslin. Randy Moyer was too sick to attend.
***VIDEO: Al Appleton on Spectra Pipeline (4:23)
“Marcellus gas has 4 to 5 times the radon level of Texas gas”
Al Appleton is an international environmental consultant with more than 15 years' experience in water resource management, watershed protection and land use, infrastructure economics and public finance, sustainable development, and market-based strategies such as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES).
(I have decided to identify any bills or proposed action to regulate fracking by posting symbols signifying democrat or republican sponsorship. I soon realized there is nothing-nothing proposed by Republicans. We know there are actively involved Republican supervisors. Where are the Republicans legislators? Jan)
1. 100,000 Signatures for a Moratorium on Fracking Delivered to Gov. Tom Corbett
“With public concern about serious harms caused by the gas drilling process known as fracking continuing to rise, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center and a coalition of public health, community and environmental groups delivered more than 100,000 petitions to the state Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett today. The petition calls for a moratorium on gas drilling in Pennsylvania until our environment and public health can be protected.
This is believed to be the largest public outcry on fracking in state history.
“As nurses, our focus is on preventing illness by reducing hazards and advocating for healthy environments,” said Nina Kaktins, Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association Environmental Health Committee. “A number of illnesses have been reported in areas where fracking occurs, including nosebleeds, headaches, skin irritation, fatigue, stomach pains, difficulty breathing, and more. While research projects are underway to investigate the health effects of fracking, a moratorium is a common-sense measure to prevent further illness.”
"My life has been devastated by working in the gas fields. Without proper training, tools or protection, I was routinely sent out to handle toxic fracking fluid in unsafe ways,” said Rick “Mac” Sawyer. “Now, a year later, I'm sick, with no health insurance. The gas companies don't care about the health and safety of their employees, or any Pennsylvanians for that matter."
"I am proud to introduce legislation in the coming days which will halt fracking in order to do thorough and accurate study of its environmental effects. I ask my colleagues in the General Assembly to take heed of the request of these 100,000 petition signers, and I ask citizens to continue their tireless advocacy on behalf of the Commonwealth's environment,” said Senator Ferlo (Allegheny).
"After years of poisoned drinking water, toxic spills and air pollution, Pennsylvanians are increasing becoming fed up with fracking. They're organizing street by street and town by town - at churches, at colleges and at coffee shops,” said Sam Bernhardt, Food & Water Watch’s Pennsylvania organizer. “
"Drillers are dumping radioactive drill cuttings and toxic fracking flowback all over the state, starting up operation of compressor stations despite explosions, fires, and health. With impacts this extreme, it's time to admit the fracking experiment has failed and call a halt before more people get hurt," said Iris Marie Bloom, Director of Protecting Our Waters.”
2. John Smith Presents at DEP Smith Compressor Station Public Hearing:
John’s statement begins at about 36 minutes
Excerpt (Recommendations for the Station)
-Replace glycol dehydrator with desiccant dehydrators to reduce by 90% methane VOCs, HAPS, and maintenance costs
-Use electric motors which will reduce air pollution
-DEP should do air modeling
-DEP should consider wind speed and topography
-Consider the County study (Rand) that notes that compressor stations result in 60-75 % of all gas operations damages, that Washington County experiences highest damage costs in PA, that Washington County is bearing the brunt of air pollution damages
Smith Township Compressor Hearing
“About 500 people showed up for a DEP hearing on the planned expansion of a gas compression station in Smith Township. Representatives from MarkWest opened the meeting with a short presentation.
Nathan Wheldon, environmental manager for MarkWest, said the company planned to expand the site’s capability from two engines to as many as 10 in order to meet demand. He highlighted the various safety features of the plant, including daily inspections, regular equipment checks, maintenance and technological improvements like flash and gas detectors.
“If these detectors see anything out of order, the plant will shut down before anything else happens,” Wheldon said.
The public meeting was announced after MarkWest’s application for the expansion caused the DEP to receive a number of public comments. Following the presentation by Wheldon and McHale, members of the public were asked to speak. DEP officials said they would answer questions in writing as part of a “comment and response document” made available on Pennsylvania Bulletin, the commonwealth’s outlet for public information.
Members of the audience were split, with a slightly larger portion of the presenters in favor of the gas industry.
Veronica Coptis, community organizer for the Center for Coalfield Justice in Washington, said many of the emission levels laid out in the permit application would be harmful to residents.
“The Smith compressor would be one of the largest in the county,” Coptis said. The planned expansion “produced an increased risk for formaldehyde exposure … We’re opposed to emissions of these known carcinogens.
“The voices of the citizens of Washington County should be considered above industry interests.”
State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, also said the impact of Marcellus Shale exploration was good for the area.
“Natural gas is having a positive environmental impact,” Solobay said, pointing to a federal study that claimed air pollution had decreased between 2005 and 2011. “This trend can only improve air quality, not only in our region, but in the country as a whole.”
Attorney John Smith, solicitor for Robinson Township, shared a petition signed by 20 residents of that municipality voicing air quality concerns.
“Many of the people (of Robinson Township) live in low-lying areas,” Smith said. “Many of these chemicals tend to lay in low levels.”
Smith said similar compression stations elsewhere in the country have utilized electric engines instead of the 1,980-horsepower, natural-gas-burning engines the Smith compressor would employ. He said the electric engines had less of an air quality impact because they emitted fewer pollutants. In addition to formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds were also singled out as especially harmful.
“These are known cancer-causing agents that can affect these individuals,” Smith said.
3. New York Towns Can Ban Fracking
“An appeals court said local governments in New York can ban fracking within their borders, delivering a major blow to the gas industry and landowners who had sought to have the bans overturned.
The state Appellate Division ruled unanimously in favor of the Tompkins County town of Dryden and the Otsego County town of Middlefield, both of which passed zoning laws that prohibit gas drilling. The rulings upheld decisions last year from a lower court.
The so-called “home rule” issue has been a topic of contention among the gas industry and critics of fracking, a technique where water, sand and chemicals are injected deep underground to fracture shale and release natural gas.
Proponents of fracking contended New York law prohibits local bans because it defers all regulatory oversight of drilling to the state; Dryden and Middlefield argued the clause in state law doesn’t impede on their ability to use zoning laws as they see fit.”
Jon Campbell: JCAMPBELL1@gannett.com; Twitter.com@JonCampbellGAN
4. Letters from DEP Clearly State Drilling Contaminated Wells
“The Department (Pa. DEP) investigation indicates that gas well drilling has impacted your water supply.” Despite the oft-repeated gas industry canard that there are no confirmed cases of fracking contaminating water supplies, the following Determination Letters from the PA DEP clearly state that “gas well drilling” has contaminated wells in Granville, Tuscarora, Terry, Orwell, Wilmot and Monroe Townships, and in Alba Boro.
To view the letters see the following site and click on the township:
Copies of the Letters:
5. Fracking Ourselves to Death in Pennsylvania
(This is a good article to share with people who are not aware of what is going on. Jan )
“Now, a new generation of downwinders is getting sick as an emerging industry pushes the next wonder technology -- in this case, high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Whether they live in Texas, Colorado, or Pennsylvania, their symptoms are the same: rashes, nosebleeds, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, joint pain, intestinal illnesses, memory loss, and more. “In my opinion,” says Yuri Gorby of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “what we see unfolding is a serious health crisis, one that is just beginning
The industry that uses this technology calls its product “natural gas,” but there’s nothing natural about up-ending half a billion years of safe storage of methane and everything that surrounds it. It is, in fact, an act of ecological violence around which alien infrastructures -- compressor stations that compact the gas for pipeline transport, ponds of contaminated flowback, flare stacks that burn off gas impurities, diesel trucks in quantity, thousands of miles of pipelines, and more -- have metastasized across rural America, pumping carcinogens and toxins into water, air, and soil.
The corporations that are exploiting the shale come to the state with lavish federal entitlements: exemptions from the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Clean Drinking Water Acts, as well as the Superfund Act, which requires cleanup of hazardous substances. The industry doesn’t have to call its trillions of gallons of annual waste “hazardous.” Instead, it uses euphemisms like “residual waste.” In addition, fracking companies are allowed to keep secret many of the chemicals they use.
Randy Moyer is a pleasant-faced, bearded 49-year-old whose drawl reminds you that Portage, his hardscrabble hometown in southwestern Pennsylvania, is part of Appalachia. He worked 18 years -- until gasoline prices got too steep -- driving his own rigs to haul waste in New York and New Jersey. Then what looked like a great opportunity presented itself: $25 an hour working for a hydraulic-fracturing subcontractor in northeastern Pennsylvania.
In addition to hauling fracking liquid, water, and waste, Randy also did what’s called, with no irony, “environmental.” He climbed into large vats to squeegee out the remains of fracking fluid. He also cleaned the huge mats laid down around the wells to even the ground out for truck traffic. Those mats get saturated with “drilling mud,” a viscous, chemical-laden fluid that eases the passage of the drills into the shale. What his employer never told him was that the drilling mud, as well as the wastewater from fracking, is not only highly toxic, but radioactive.
In the wee hours of a very cold day in November 2011, he stood in a huge basin at a well site, washing 1,000 mats with high-pressure hoses, taking breaks every so often to warm his feet in his truck. “I took off my shoes and my feet were as red as a tomato,” he told me. When the air from the heater hit them, he “nearly went through the roof.”
Once at home, he scrubbed his feet, but the excruciating pain didn’t abate. A “rash” that covered his feet soon spread up to his torso. A year and a half later, the skin inflammation still recurs. His upper lip repeatedly swells. A couple of times his tongue swelled so large that he had press it down with a spoon to be able to breathe. “I’ve been fried for over 13 months with this stuff,” he told me in late January. “I can just imagine what hell is like. It feels like I’m absolutely on fire.”
Family and friends have taken Moyer to emergency rooms at least four times. He has consulted more than 40 doctors. No one can say what caused the rashes, or his headaches, migraines, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat, or the shooting pains down his back and legs, his blurred vision, vertigo, memory loss, the constant white noise in his ears, and the breathing troubles that require him to stash inhalers throughout his small apartment.
In an earlier era, workers’ illnesses fell into the realm of “industrial medicine.” But these days, when it comes to the U.S. fracking industry, the canaries aren’t restricted to the coalmines. People like Randy seem to be the harbingers of what happens when a toxic environment is no longer buried miles beneath the earth. The gas fields that evidently poisoned him are located near thriving communities.
“For just about every other industry I can imagine,” says Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University, coauthor of a landmark study that established fracking’s colossal greenhouse-gas footprint, “from making paint, building a toaster, building an automobile, those traditional kinds of industry occur in a zoned industrial area, inside of buildings, separated from home and farm, separated from schools.” By contrast, natural gas corporations, he says, “are imposing on us the requirement to locate our homes, hospitals and schools inside their industrial space.”
In 2002, a “landman” knocked on the door and asked Angel and her husband Wayne Smith to lease the gas rights of their 115-acre farm to the San Francisco-based energy corporation PG&E(Pacific Gas & Electric.) At first, he was polite, but then he started bullying. “All your neighbors have signed. If you don’t, we’ll just suck the gas from under your land.” Perhaps from weariness and a lack of information (almost no one outside the industry then knew anything about high-volume hydraulic fracturing), they agreed. Drilling began in 2002 on neighbors’ land and in 2005 on the Smith’s.
Little Rose was Angel Smith’s favorite horse. On January 30, 2007, Little Rose staggered, fell, and couldn’t get up. Her legs moved spasmodically. When Wayne and Angel dragged her to a sitting position, she’d just collapse again. “I called every vet in the phone book,” says Angel. “They all said, ‘Shoot her.’” The couple couldn’t bear to do it. After two days, a neighbor shot her. “It was our choice,” says Angel, her voice breaking. “She was my best friend.”
Soon, the Smiths’ cows began showing similar symptoms. Those that didn’t die began aborting or giving birth to dead calves. All the chickens died, too. So did the barn cats. And so did three beloved dogs, none of them old, all previously healthy. A 2012 study by Michelle Bamberger and Cornell University pharmacology professor Robert Oswald indicates that, in the gas fields, these are typical symptoms in animals and often serve as early warning signs for their owners’ subsequent illnesses.
The Smiths asked the DEP to test their water. The agency told them that it was safe to drink, but Angel Smith says that subsequent testing by Pennsylvania State University investigators revealed high levels of arsenic. Meanwhile, the couple began suffering from headaches, nosebleeds, fatigue, throat and eye irritation, and shortness of breath. Wayne’s belly began swelling oddly, even though, says Angel, he isn’t heavy. X-rays of his lungs showed scarring and calcium deposits. A blood analysis revealed cirrhosis of the liver. “Get him to stop drinking,” said the doctor who drew Angel aside after the results came in. “Wayne doesn’t drink,” she replied. Neither does Angel, who at 42 now has liver disease.
By the time the animals began dying, five high-volume wells had been drilled on neighbors’ land. Soon, water started bubbling up under their barn floor and an oily sheen and foam appeared on their pond. In 2008, a compressor station was built half a mile away. These facilities, which compress natural gas for pipeline transport, emit known carcinogens and toxins like benzene and toluene.
The Smiths say people they know elsewhere in Clearville have had similar health problems, as have their animals. For a while they thought their own animals’ troubles were over, but just this past February several cows aborted. The couple would like to move away, but can’t. No one will buy their land.
Excerpt from the Headley story: All the brine tanks have leaked toxic waste onto the Headley’s land. Contaminated soil from around the high-volume tank has been alternately stored in dumpsters and in an open pit next to the well. The Headleys begged the DEP to have it removed. David says an agency representative told them the waste would have to be tested for radioactivity first. Eventually, some of it was hauled away; the rest was buried under the Headleys’ land. The test for radioactivity is still pending, though David has his own Geiger counter which has measured high levels at the site of the well.
An independent environmental organization, Earthworks, included the Headleys among 55 households it surveyed in a recent study of health problems near gas facilities. Testing showed high levels of contaminants in the Headleys’ air, including chloromethane, a neurotoxin, and trichloroethene, a known carcinogen.
Perhaps more telling is the simple fact that everyone in the family is sick. Seventeen-year-old Grant has rashes that, like Randy Moyer’s, periodically appear on different parts of his body. Four-year-old Adam suffers from stomach cramps that make him scream. David says he and Linda have both had “terrible joint pain. It’s weird stuff, your left elbow, your right hip, then you’ll feel good for three days, and it’ll be your back.” At 42, with no previous family history of either arthritis or asthma, Linda has been diagnosed with both. Everyone has had nosebleeds -- including the horses.”
To read more about the Headleys (who spoke at our St Vincent meeting) and the rest of the article see:
6. Are You In the Zone?-from Bob
“The number of natural gas wells in Pennsylvania expected to increase ten-fold to 60,000”
What we have seen with drilling so far is just the tip of the iceberg folks, and we are getting more reports of people with respiratory issues and unexplained “dry coughs” -- many of these people live in Greene County and Washington County, Pa. As far as deteriorating air quality issues, people living in these counties not only have all the gas drilling, fracking, dehydrating and processing in their own counties, but also what blows in on prevailing westerly winds from heavily drilled West Virginia and Ohio. A friend who lives near the monstrous MarkWest gas processing plant told me she awoke late one night this week with an uncontrollable coughing spell, and their cat was throwing up blood. Why does this sound so much like other Marcellus Shale horror stories we have heard?”
7. Toxic Chemicals Used in Fracking Include Hydrochloric Acid and Ethylene Glycol
Toxic chemicals such as hydrochloric acid and ethylene glycol (antifreeze) are among those pumped underground to help release gas through hydraulic fracturing, according to a database operated by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission. Environment Canada wants gas companies to fully disclose what fluids they inject deep underground during fracking. Disclosure is voluntary and the database FracFocus.ca reveals some of the fluids used. However, it doesn’t list quantities, and types of chemicals vary from site to site.
“There is an unquestionable link with water contamination in some states in the United States as a result of fracking activities.” The non-profit ProPublica newsroom has reported water contamination in almost 1,000 rural water wells in regions where drilling is taking place. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investigating the link between hydraulic fracturing and water contamination and expects to release its report next year.
8. House Democrats Seek More Drilling Safeguards
“House Democratic lawmakers are preparing new legislation to expand safeguards for the impact of Marcellus Shale drilling on the environment and public health. The caucus policy committee held a hearing this week where a former state official and environmental and public health advocates called for a rewrite of state laws addressing air and water quality, public health monitoring and public land issues related to drilling. Safety issues are still important with the number of natural gas wells in Pennsylvania expected to increase tenfold to 60,000 during the next couple of decades, added Mr. Vitali. The two issues drawing the most attention are water and air protection, said Rep. Frank Farina, D-115, Jessup.
The state needs to create a health registry of people who report plausible symptoms related to drilling, said Jill Kriesky, associate director of the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project. In the impact fee law, legislators left out a provision to establish a registry, she said. "Such data is invaluable to public health researchers, toxicologists and physicians who seek to identify specific symptoms associated with exposures to various stages of the gas extraction process," said Ms. Kriesky. Democratic lawmakers are preparing legislation aimed at protecting state-owned lands from drilling. State parks in the Marcellus Shale formation are at risk because the state only owns the mineral rights under about 20 percent of the total state park land, said Steve Stroman, policy director for PennFuture, an environmental group.”
9. PA Supreme Court-Replacement for Orie Melvin Not Likely to Emerge Anytime Soon
“According to knowledgeable sources in the Pennsylvania legal community, Governor Tom Corbett has not yet made any moves to fill the vacancy on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Sources also told The Legal that there is even a possibility that Corbett may not make any nomination to fill the vacancy because the governor is focusing on other pressing political issues like the budget, the possible expansion of eligibility for Medicaid, and the privatization of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
One source familiar with the Corbett administration said, "I can tell you with relative certainty there's minimal chance anything will happen before the budget. I don't think it's possible." The state budget is supposed to be passed into law by June 30.
There's a "very real possibility" Corbett will choose not to nominate anyone, the same source said. Corbett has 90 days starting from Orie Melvin's resignation to submit a nominee for confirmation by two-thirds of the state Senate. A nominee would serve until January 5, 2016, and a new justice would be elected in November 2015.
Some of the names include Michael Krancer, former secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection; Stephen Aichele, Corbett's chief of staff; and William R. Sasso, chairman of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young's management committee.
Krancer, who ran unsuccessfully for the Supreme Court in 2007, said it is an honor to be a name mentioned as a possible nominee. If Corbett asked him to consider being nominated, Krancer said he would respond affirmatively.
"When a chief executive asks you to do something, it's something that is incumbent upon you as a duty to do," he said.
There are many important issues being considered by the Supreme Court, Krancer said, like legislative reapportionment, the state's voter identification law, and Act 13 issues like whether the state can pre-empt local ordinances regarding natural-gas drilling.”
Amaris Elliott-Engel and Zack Needles
2013-05-06 12:00:00 AM
10. Marcellus Shale in Pa.-Not as many Jobs As Thought
“Gov. Corbett, who found himself in the hot seat last week over his comments on the state's lagging employment rate, has promoted Pennsylvania as a rival to Texas as a regional energy hub. In his budget address this year, he talked about the energy sector creating "hundreds of thousands of new jobs." Most economists credit the Marcellus Shale development with creating jobs and having a profound economic effect in the rural areas where drilling is taking place. But they say energy development can have only a modest effect in an economy as diverse as Pennsylvania's.
"Gas development has not been as big as we thought and is not the size that it will cure all the state's employment problems," said David Passmore, director of the Penn State Institute for Research in Training and Development. Even if shale-gas development has created 245,000 direct and indirect jobs - the number used by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, and touted by industry trade groups - that still amounts to only 4 percent of total employment in a state with 5.7 million jobs. Mark Price, a labor economist with the liberal-leaning Keystone Research Center, says he can find only 20,000 direct jobs created from Marcellus Shale. Even if all coal-mining and legacy natural gas drilling is added together, "this is a sector that still only makes up half of 1 percent of Pennsylvania's economy," he said.
11. Sen. Ferlo Proposes Moratorium on Marcellus Shale Drilling
“At a Harrisburg rally yesterday, there were petitions signed by 100,000 people for Gov. Tom Corbett, and State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) announced he will introduce legislation calling for a temporary moratorium on any new Marcellus Shale gas drilling. Ferlo said with 10,000 wells operating, it's time to take a step back because evidence has grown of water contamination and air pollution, as well as adverse impacts on personal health, property values and the state’s billion-dollar industries: agriculture and tourism.
If and when a moratorium is declared, Ferlo has called for an independent study commission to evaluate environmental and health concerns related to the drilling. He said the industry came into the state and started drilling before laws and regulations were in place. And even now, Act 13, which governs drilling, is woefully inadequate, Ferlo said. He has introduced 17 amendments to strengthen the law”.
12. Former DEP Secretary Krancer Now Helps Gas Industry “Navigate” Regs
Under former Secretary Krancer at the DEP, right-to-know requests for inspectors’ notes about drilling-related water complaints were denied. Requests to speak directly to DEP field officers were denied because “they were too busy” to talk. Calling to DEP staffers at home for interviews was decried as “unacceptable” and “unprofessional” behavior.
Sometimes days would pass before requests for comments or information about drilling-related spills and accidents got answered by DEP.
One memorable example was a June 19 incident in Tioga County about 35 miles from Williamsport. After an anonymous tipster reported a well leak, DEP at first could provide no information in response to StateImpact’s inquiries.
Scott Detrow, then a StateImpact reporter, hustled to the scene and found a 30-foot geyser of gas and water that had been spraying out of the ground for more than a week in Union Township, Tioga County. In fact, Shell, the company drilling nearby that caused the blow-out, had temporarily evacuated nearby residents. Here’s more from Scott’s report:
The geyser wasn’t the only way the methane leak manifested itself. At the Ralston Hunting Club, a water well inside a cabin overflowed, flooding the building. Methane bubbled out from a nearby creek, as well. Shell asked the handful of nearby landowners to temporarily evacuate their homes while the company worked with well control specialists, a fire department and state environmental regulators to bring the leak under control.
Eventually, once Scott was on the scene, DEP did answer his questions. But the tone at the top during Krancer’s tenure at DEP seemed to be to regard media questions as intrusive and irksome.
But Krancer has moved on, or moved back, to a position with the major Philadelphia law firm of Blank Rome, where he has been promoted as someone who can now help industry navigate state and federal regulatory issues. The Pennsylvania Ethics law prevents former public officials like Krancer from representing clients before their former governmental employer, in this case the DEP. But there appears to be an exception made for attorneys.
So it happened that last week, StateImpact Pennsylvania received an email from a NY public relations firm, Greentarget, offering up Krancer for an interview. Greentarget,seems to specialize in promoting law firms. Here’s the email:
As you may be aware, Michael Krancer, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania (DEP) under Governor Tom Corbett, has recently joined Blank Rome to head its Energy, Petrochemical & Natural Resources Practice to support current and potential upstream/midstream/downstream client companies looking to benefit from Pennsylvania’s abundant natural gas reserves.
Michael offers access to regional policy makers that other firms do not have, as well as NERC, FERC, EPA and other policy making entities. He is sought-after for his proven understanding of environmental regulation, governance and all other issues relative to optimizing regional energy supplies, and can speak to a track record of private and public success for creating new opportunities for business expansion and investment.
Michael would be willing to speak on one of the following topics:
• PA’s natural gas renaissance and what it means geo-politically
• Fracking: Why regulation should be left to the states
• How LNG exports should evolve
Are you interested in speaking to Michael? If so, I can arrange an interview with him.
Thanks so much.
Samuel Eisele Junior Associate Greentarget
215 Lexington Ave. 17th Floor New York, NY 10016
13. Colorado Democrats Push Fracking Rules After Towns Bar Drilling
‘Colorado, is considering legislation to rein in the practice, drawing threats from drillers who say they will flee the state if the restrictions become law.
The General Assembly is debating at least nine bills that would require additional groundwater sampling, prioritize inspections of oil and natural gas facilities, increase penalties for violations, revise the state oil and gas regulator’s mission, strengthen reporting standards for spills, and expedite certain air permits.
“If you go walking down the street in Erie you will see a drilling rig and a school 500 feet away,” said state Senator Matt Jones, a Democrat from Louisville, about 22 miles northwest of Denver
“It’s an industrial activity going on 750 feet from peoples’ back doors,” said Jones, who is sponsoring some of the most contentious bills. “A lot of middle-class people that would never be involved in political issues contacted me with concerns.”
Fort Collins, the fifth- largest city, voted in March to outlaw the method. The Colorado Oil & Gas Association, a Denver-based trade group, filed a lawsuit challenging the Longmont ban.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the administration and the governor’s office have been lobbying against them.”
14. California--3 Bills Aim to Halt Fracking
“Three bills that would halt fracking in California won key votes, passing the Assembly Natural Resources Committee despite intense pressure from the oil industry. The bills would place a moratorium on fracking while threats posed by the controversial practice to California’s environment and public health are studied. A.B. 1301—sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch and Clean Water Action—is supported by the California Nurses Association, Breast Cancer Action, Family Farm Defenders and more than 100 other health, labor, environmental and social justice organizations. A.B. 649, A.B. 1301 and A.B. 1323, (all sponsored by democrats), will next go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“This is a huge win for Californians threatened by fracking pollution,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. “These bills will protect the air we breathe and the water we drink from cancer-causing chemicals and other fracking pollutants. That’s why a fracking moratorium is supported by nurses, farmers and so many others concerned about our state’s health and environment.” http://ecowatch.com/2013/fracking-moratorium-bills-win-vote-ca/
15. Cheap Gas Prompts States to Sour on Renewables
“More than half the states with laws requiring utilities to buy renewable energy - including Arizona - are considering ways to pare back those mandates after a plunge in natural gas prices brought on by technology that boosted supply. Sixteen of the 29 states with renewable portfolio standards are considering legislation that would reduce the need for wind and solar power, according to researchers backed by the U.S. Energy Department. North Carolina lawmakers may be among the first to move, followed by Colorado and Connecticut.
The efforts could benefit U.S. utilities such as Duke Energy and PG&E as well as Exxon Mobil, the biggest U.S. oil producer, and Peabody Energy Corp., the largest U.S. coal mining company. Those companies contributed to at least one of the lobby groups pushing the change, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a Madison, Wis.-based nonprofit group. It would hurt wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems and First Solar Inc., which develops solar farms. "We're opposed to these mandates, and 2013 will be the most active year ever in terms of efforts to repeal them," said Todd Wynn, task force director for energy of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a lobby group pushing for the change.”
16. Cutting-Edge Project to Test Air Quality for Fracking in Colorado
Backpacks Measure an individuals exposure
“Citizens for a Healthy Community (CHC) announced that it is launching a cutting-edge air quality sampling project. The project is designed to establish an air quality baseline for the Delta County region in Colorado by testing for toxic chemicals associated with natural gas drilling. Formed in 2009 by a group of concerned residents, CHC’s mission is to protect people and their environment from irresponsible oil and gas development in the Delta County region.
Picture--Two drill rigs working on a pad where ten wells have been previously completed. In the bottom right you can see ten recovery water tanks. Note also the reserve pit by the drill rigs. Photo courtesy of TEDX The Endocrine Disruption Exchange.
Local residents will carry backpacks containing air-sampling devices to collect data over 24-hour periods to determine actual human exposure. CHC is beginning to work with local residents to identify sampling locations so that the first round of sampling can begin in September.
Three samples will be collected at the same time at different locations as one collection set. Two sets will be collected in a month during four months over the course of one-year, in order to account for changes in the seasons.
The project was developed with input from scientists at The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX). This cutting edge approach to conducting an air baseline project uses backpack air sampling instead of a stationary sampling location. This project will collect air samples to identify if an individual has been exposed to chemicals in the air.
Picture--Cannons shooting fracking wastewater to increase evaporation at the Ignacio natural gas processing plant. Note the cracks in the dirt berm in the foreground. Photo courtesy of TEDX The Endocrine Disruption Exchange.
While drilling is relatively minimal in the Delta County region at this time, it is important to establish a baseline to determine the current levels of chemicals associated with drilling prior to any further gas and oil development, especially given the unique wind patterns in the area. Also, many traditional air-sampling projects overlook certain chemicals that can cause serious health effects at very low levels, which sometimes cannot be seen or smelled. CHC will test for these chemicals, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), in sampling. The American Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says it is well “established” that PAHs are carcinogenic, and have been linked to infertility, immune disorders and fish mutation.
Understanding personal exposure to chemicals is important because of the health effects of certain chemicals used in, or released by, drilling and fracking. TEDX has outlined the risks in their report, Chemicals in Natural Gas Operations: Health Effects Summary. Other health effects include harm to the brain and the endocrine and nervous systems, organ damage, and cancer and other “symptoms such as burning eyes, rashes, coughs, sore throats, asthma-like effects, nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, tremors and convulsions.”
“It’s what we can’t see or smell—chemicals in the air that come from drilling—that could be harming the health of local families,” said Jim Ramey, director of CHC. “Our air sampling project could serve as a model for other communities across the country who are fighting to protect their health and environment from runaway drilling and fracking.”
Concerns in other gas-patch communities have informed the design of this project. For example, at the recent rulemakings of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, commissioners heard from numerous Garfield County and Front Range residents who have experienced health effects that they believe were caused by airborne pollution sourced from drilling. State officials frequently claim that Colorado has the strongest regulations for oil and gas in the nation, but people are still getting sick when drill rigs move in.
“Citizen science is critical to holding the drilling industry and government responsible,” said Weston Wilson, retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and currently with Be the Change – USA. “Very few communities have the opportunity to establish their air quality baseline before large scale drilling and fracking begin.”
Currently, drilling in the Delta County region is limited to several wells per year. But, the community is facing numerous proposals that could result in hundreds of new wells in the area.” http://ecowatch.com/2013/test-air-quality-fracking-chemicals/
17. Hydraulic Fracturing Faces Growing Competition for Water Supplies in Water-Stressed Regions
“A new Ceres research paper on water use in fracking shows that a significant portion of this activity is happening in water stressed regions of the U.S., most prominently Texas and Colorado, which are both in the midst of prolonged drought conditions. It concludes that industry efforts underway, such as expanded use of recycled water and non-freshwater resources, need to be scaled up along with better water management planning if shale energy production is to grow as projected.
The research shows that nearly 47 percent of the wells were developed in water basins with high or extremely high water stress. The research was based on FracFocus data collected on 25,450 wells in operation from January 2011 through September 2012.
“These findings highlight emerging tensions in many U.S. regions between growing hydraulic fracturing activity and localized water supply needs,” said Ceres president Mindy Lubber, in announcing the report, Hydraulic Fracturing & Water Stress: Growing Competitive Pressures for Water, at Ceres’ annual conference in San Francisco.
18. Letter to the Editor
Act 13 takes away zoning rights
“Drilling...It’s just the beginning,” is a saying that appears on billboards for Range Resources, and it makes me pause and ponder some things.
If the zoning provisions of Act 13 are allowed to stand and drilling is just the beginning, what will follow? Fertilizer plants? Act 13 allows industries to be located in any zoned area of a community. This is exactly what happened recently in Texas, where, tragically, homes and lives were lost when a fertilizer plant exploded. The plant was located in a residential area even though it was an industrial facility.
Local zoning is supposed to keep industrial operations in areas zoned for industrial use. But Act 13 takes away a community’s right to zone properly. This law favors industry, namely oil and gas, not landowners. Industry wants all its operations nearby – drilling rigs, flammable chemical storage, wastewater and frack impoundments, compressor stations and more.
Robinson Township, under its current board, along with Cecil, Mt. Pleasant and Peters townships and other communities in Pennsylvania, has been a part of the challenge to the zoning provisions of Act 13. The challenge, now in the hands of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, is based on the desire of these communities to continue to have the right to zone as they see fit. Without this ability, dangerous industries with the potential to cause serious harm would be permitted next to residential dwellings.
And yes, drilling is at the top of a list of other industries which could come asking for special treatment like the oil and gas industry is asking for in Act 13. This law could open the door for all industrial-type operations to locate in areas where they had been previously forbidden.
Cathy Lodge, Bulger
19. Wastewater Impoundments a Bad Practice
PA Rep. Jesse White
“My amendments to House bills 302, 303 and 308 would ban open air impoundments for the disposal of hazardous wastewater from drilling operations, leading to the use of closed loop/closed containment systems instead. Closed loop/closed containment systems should fit into anyone’s definition of “new and emerging technologies,” and my amendments are “smarter and tighter regulations that adapt” to those technologies. Many responsible drillers operating in Pennsylvania have abandoned wastewater impoundments already, and they are specifically discussed as a performance standard by the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, which includes such companies as Shell, Chevron, Consol and EQT. It is worth noting that Range refuses to participate in this initiative to adopt industry wide best practices.
Last August, the PA DEP Office of Oil and Gas Management issued a draft report with recommendations for updates to drilling regulations. Section 78.58 clearly stated, “The long-term storage of production fluids in a pit presents an unacceptable risk to the environment though leaks or overtopping of the pit.” Somehow, this recommendation disappeared from the final version of the regulations. I have submitted a Right-to-Know request to determine whether Range submitted comments to the DEP requesting the regulation be removed; the DEP has yet to provide me with any information.
Wastewater impoundments are simply not an industry best practice; they’re little more than toxic waste dumps, and new and better technologies absolutely exist. While Range Resources, through Matt Pitzarella, specifically told the readers of the Observer-Reporter they lobby in favor of smarter regulations and new technologies, Range’s paid lobbyist through the Marcellus Shale Coalition was literally doing the exact opposite. So who is Range Resources lying to – the readers of the Observer-Reporter, or the members of the Pennsylvania Legislature?”