Friday, June 7, 2013

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates  June 6, 2013
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Calendar of Events- June is Busy

***Fracktracker Training-Sign Up Now

To follow what is going on with gas operations/violations near          you. We will learn how to track permits, wells, and          violations via the Fracktracker computer program.

June 26- two sessions 3-5pm or 6-8pm

ST Vincent College Dupre Science Pavilion, West Building, Room WG02

Presented by Mt Watershed Assoc and FracTracker Alliance

Also sponsored by Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group
To RSVP for one of the 2 hour sessions contact Kathryn Hilton at or 724-455-4200 ext. 4

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

***WMCG Steering Committee Meetings  2nd Tuesday of every month at 7:30 pm 

  ***Gasland Part II   Coming to Pittsburgh June 20, 7:00 pm-Organized by Marcellus Protest  (WMCG is a supporter)

               As part of a national ‘preview’ tour, Gasland Part II will be shown free to the public at the Soldiers and Sailors Hall in Oakland. Doors open at 6 pm with live music and the screening begins at 7 pm. Director Josh Fox will be present 

***Grassroots Summer Summit-Mountain Watershed

MWA is proud to announce the Grassroots Summer Summit - June 21st and 22nd 2013 – the first in a series of events MWA plans to hold twice per year for grassroots community and environmental advocates and citizens to come together for organizing and rejuvenation. We aim to nurture a network of support for those in the ‘Good Race’ to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. Featured speakers include Lois Gibbs (of Love Canal), Simona Perry, and Elliot Adams (Veterans for Peace). A tentative schedule is available for download.

               Registration is only $10 and includes bunk accommodations (you may also bring a tent if you prefer) and meals. Participation is limited and is filling up quickly! To save your spot, contact Melissa at 724-455-4200 ext. 6# or 



***Berks Gas Truth Will Push for Resolution on Fracking at PA State Democratic Committee-Sign Petition 

Berks Gas Truth is coordinating an action at the PA State Democratic Committee meeting on June 14th and 15th in Lancaster. The State Committee will be considering a resolution for a moratorium on fracking. At their last meeting, the resolution didn't make it to the floor for a vote. We want to make sure that doesn't happen again. You can find lots more information on our website: We hope you'll join us! If you can be there both days, great! If not, we'll be happy to see you either day. The main event is on the 15th, but there's plenty to be done both days!

  Please sign and share this petition we'll take with us!

Any questions? Let me know! You can always reach me at 610-678-7726. If you can't make either call, but would like to be involved, let me know that too!


Karen Feridun Berks Gas Truth 

*** Tell Obama: Don't frack our parks. Without your help, our national parks and forests could be opened to fracking.

“For months, we’ve been urging the Obama administration to protect our parks and forests from fracking.

Unfortunately, it looks like the President isn't listening.

Instead, they proposed very weak rules that would leave our forests and parks vulnerable to the damage of dirty drilling. Now, we have to make our voices heard more than ever to protect our forests from fracking.

Across the country, fracking has been an environmental disaster -- contaminating drinking water sources and turning rural landscapes into industrial zones. Yet the oil and gas industry wants to bring its dirty drilling to places like:

               Delaware River Basin, which is home to three national park areas, and provides drinking water to 15 million people.

               George Washington National Forest, threatening the streams that feed the James and Potomac Rivers, which provide drinking water for roughly four million people;

               Glacier National Park, putting its wildlife, air quality, and scenic views at risk; and

               Otero Mesa in New Mexico, putting perhaps the largest untapped freshwater aquifer in this parched southwestern state at risk. And that’s just a few of the places at risk.

Take action and help us keep our parks and forests free from fracking.

More than a year ago, the Obama administration’s own advisory panel on fracking recommended “preservation of unique and/or sensitive areas as off limits to drilling. . .” So how could the President propose a rule that would let fracking into these places?

Clearly, we need President Obama to step in protect our forests and parks from fracking.

Let’s stop this dirty drilling now.

David Masur

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center Director”


***TELL YOUR SENATOR TO OPPOSE SB 739 That Subsidizes the Gas Industry

               SB 739 represents a lose - lose proposition for the environment. It takes money away from already limited energy efficiency funding while it subsidizes a natural gas industry that is already very profitable.

               The gas industry is trying to expand the markets for natural gas, while having taxpayers fund the construction of gas delivery infrastructure. If they are successful, not only will they be able to sell more gas, but the price of gas will increase, due to increased demand. The natural gas industry doesn't need additional subsidies paid for by the public. 

Campaign Compiling Water Contamination by Shale Gas Drilling

Science Studies/Reports

***Theoretical and Observational Assessments of Flare Efficiencies by Douglas Leahey, Kathering Preston, and Mel Strosher 12/01

This 2001 analysis of pollutants emitted by flaring indicates that the data still used by EPA to assume that flares emit relatively innocuous byproducts such as CO2 and H2O is faulty.  Incomplete combustion due to the effects of wind and stack exit velocity results in more complex molecular structures such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and VOCs being released.   Measurements of complex chemical species such as benzopyrene, naphthalene, and phenythiophene are included in the report.

Journal of Air and Waste Management Association 



***6 Minutes Over A Fracked Dimock from Bob

Who Would Want to Live Here

Notice how close together these sites are located:


***Infrared of compressor station in Texas


***Compressor Station-Liberty Twp, Susquehanna Co. 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.


***Health Problems Forum-Video

Mac Sawyer, former gas field truck driver, Joe Giovannini mason and resident of Cannonsburg, Robert McCaslin who worked as master driller.  Larysa Dyrszka, MD, Board certified pediatrician, former director of pediatrics at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ, attendee at the first US Health Impact Assessment Conference in Washington DC., and affiliate member of Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy and Lauren Williams, Esq, PA attorney specializing in environmental and public law who focuses on land use issues including those that relate to gas drilling. Lauren William’s discussion of the gag order on doctors is a good explanation of the problems surrounding the Act 13 order.

You must click on each speaker in turn to hear all the presentations.


Frack News

1. Beaver Run Reservoir Incident

From Sky Truth Alert

CNX @ Beaver Run78.54

  Type Incident- Response to Accident or Event


ID: 669515 Date: 2013-06-03 Type: Environmental Health & Safety

78.54 - Failure to properly control or dispose of industrial or residual waste to prevent pollution of the waters of the Commonwealth.

ID: 669516 Date: 2013-06-03 00:00:00 Type: Administrative

78.56(1) - Pit and tanks not constructed with sufficient capacity to contain pollutional substances.

What Kathryn of Mt Watershed was able to find out:

          According to the DEP:  Incident was 100 gallons of flowback water, not believed to have reached waters of the commonwealth.  Apparently the spill took place on the well pad, but precautionary measures were taken to ensure that there was no contamination off the pad.  The spill was stopped on the day it occurred.  All impacted areas have been “remediated” and contaminated materials are currently being stored on site in lined roll off boxes.  The DEP office of Waste Management will deal with where the material is disposed of, and the O&G staff will be notified of where it was sent after it is disposed of.


2.  Driller Wants to Drill Under Murrysville       Park


“A privately-owned, small driller from SW PA, Huntley & Huntley, wants to begin drilling unconventional wells that target Marcellus Shale. They’ve chosen Westmoreland County, PA as the place to do it. Huntley & Huntley has already leased land surrounding the Murrysville Community Park and now wants to lease the 305-acre park too. They plan to set up drill pads outside of the park, on adjoining land, and drill under the park.”


3. Eminent Domain For Pipeline

Note from Paula and Andy:

            “Attached is the link to an article appearing in today's Tribune Review written by Timothy Puko.  It discussed the concerns of residents regarding the proposed Delmont to Houston pipeline.

            It is our understanding that this is propane in a liquid form under very high pressure.  If a leak occurs the pressure would drop and the liquid turns into a gray gas cloud that is heavier than the surrounding atmosphere.  Obviously this poses extreme danger to anyone living within 20 to 50 miles away from a leak and would threaten both lives, homes and businesses in the area.”

Article by Tim Puko

            “More than a dozen landowners have contacted state Rep. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen, about stopping Sunoco Logistics Partners LP from buying rights of way on their land or using eminent domain to take them, his office manager Mary Jo Smith said.

            The residents cite frustration from other pipeline projects that are still scarring their land, concerns over private property rights and value, and safety risks.

            At stake is part of a $600 million plan Sunoco Logistics has to ship Marcellus shale propane and ethane to Canada and Europe. It received support from Gov. Tom Corbett and Sen. Pat Toomey last fall, then ran into opposition from homeowners along the project's first path through dense parts of North Huntingdon. Sunoco Logistics responded this year by pushing the path farther east, along two pipelines that already exist.

            Highberger is upset at Sunoco Logistics for repeatedly telling him and other landowners it will use eminent domain to take land its owners won't sell. And he's angry, too, that in the end, the project's goal is to ship fuel abroad. If he can avoid it, he doesn't plan to sell a right of way, no matter how much the company's offer is, he said. “


Installing a Pipeline- Photo by Bob Donnan


4. How Corporations and Law Enforcement Are Spying on Environmentalists by Adam Federman Summer 2013



“ Tom Jiunta and a small group of residents in northeastern Pennsylvania formed the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition (GDAC), an environmental organization opposed to hydraulic fracturing in the region. The group sought to appeal to the widest possible audience, and was careful about striking a moderate tone. All members were asked to sign a code of conduct in which they pledged to carry themselves with “professionalism, dignity, and kindness” as they worked to protect the environment and their communities. GDAC’s founders acknowledged that gas drilling had become a divisive issue misrepresented by individuals on both sides and agreed to “seek out the truth.”

               The group of about 10 professionals – engineers, nurses, and teachers – began meeting in the basement of a member’s home. As their numbers grew, they moved to a local church. In an effort to raise public awareness about the risks of hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) they attended township meetings, zoning and ordinance hearings, and gas-drilling forums. They invited speakers from other states affected by gas drilling to talk with Pennsylvania residents. They held house-party style screenings of documentary films.

               Since the group had never engaged in any kind of illegal activity or particularly radical forms of protest, it came as a shock when GDAC members learned that their organization had been featured in intelligence bulletins compiled by a private security firm, The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR). Equally shocking was the revelation that the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security had distributed those bulletins to local police chiefs, state, federal, and private intelligence agencies, and the security directors of the natural gas companies, as well as industry groups and PR firms.

               News of the surveillance broke in September 2010 when the director of the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security, James Powers, mistakenly sent an email to an anti-drilling activist he believed was sympathetic to the industry, warning her not to post the bulletins online. The activist was Virginia Cody, a retired Air Force officer. In his email to Cody, Powers wrote: “We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies.”

               “While the above cases involved corporations hiring private security firms to carry out black-ops against environmental groups, the Pennsylvania scandal may be the first time that a state agency has contracted with a private security firm to gather intelligence on lawful groups for the benefit of a specific industry. Although the ITRR bulletins were produced for the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security, they were shared with PR firms, the major Marcellus Shale companies, and industry associations.

               For members of GDAC and other anti-drilling organizations, the revelations were profoundly troubling. Not only were they being lumped together with groups like Al-Qaeda, but the government agencies tasked with protecting the people of Pennsylvania were, in their view, essentially working for the gas companies. If a moderate group like GDAC wasn’t safe from the surveillance-industrial complex, it seemed nobody was. “These systems and this type of collection is so rife with inappropriate speculation and error – both intentional and unintentional – that your good behavior doesn’t protect you,” German says.

               In the wake of the surveillance scandal Pennsylvania Homeland Security Director James Powers resigned and the state terminated its $103,000 no-bid contract with ITRR. Then-governor Ed Rendell called the episode “deeply embarrassing” and a one-day Senate inquiry was held. In testimony before the committee, Virginia Cody, the retired Air Force officer who had become a critic of gas drilling, said: “For the first time in my life, I do not feel secure in my home. I worry that what I say on the phone is being recorded. I wonder if my emails are still being monitored.”

               The hearing sought to answer questions about how the contract was awarded, why citizen groups exercising their First Amendment rights were included, and, crucially, who received the information.

               Powers explained that the information was distributed to various chemical, agricultural, and transportation companies mentioned in the bulletins. At least 800 individuals were on the distribution list.

               In the case of gas drilling activism he explained, “It [the bulletins] went to the security directors of the Marcellus Shale companies and DEP .”

…Other activists have described similar cyber security-related issues. Around the time the ITRR bulletins were made public, Jiunta told me, members of GDAC experienced persistent problems with their computers. “Everybody was getting suspicious,” he says. “I had computer issues. Some are still having issues.” 

…John Trallo, a 61-year-old musician and guitar instructor whose communications were also featured in the ITRR bulletins, has been an outspoken critic of shale gas development for several years. In 2007 Chief Oil and Gas offered him a signing bonus of $1,400 to lease his mineral rights. Trallo, who lives in a modest two-story home in northeastern Pennsylvania, refused. He’s been fighting the industry ever since.

               “This is something that’s bigger in my life than I ever wanted it to be,” he says. “Five years ago, when I first started getting involved in this and I started talking to people, I would say to myself, ‘these people are a little crazy.’ Five years later I sound like them.”

               Immediately after the intelligence bulletins were made public Trallo’s computer became nearly unusable. Documents were corrupted and irretrievable; photos were disappearing and programs wouldn’t work. A relatively new machine with a high-end operating system, Trallo had it serviced at a Best Buy in nearby Muncy. He was told by the Geek Squad at Best Buy that a highly sensitive program that acts like a Trojan Horse had been installed on his computer. According to Trallo, “They said that the program monitors every key stroke, every email, everything you do on the computer.”



5.  Water Database Is By Industry and For Industry

               A shale-drilling industry group has created a database of water quality before any drilling occurs for Pennsylvania's thousands of water wells, but the public does not have access.

               “While the database is currently being populated, access to the underlying dataset must remain confidential to protect the identity of the water well owners,” Forde said. “But that it is our full intention to use this information to better inform policymakers on the condition of private water wells in the state.”

               DEP has not yet signed onto the project, he said. DEP officials Wednesday declined to comment on the issue.

               While others agree that pre-drill testing information is important, they take issue with the secrecy.

               “I think having a central database that is accessible to the public where the results are stored is great idea,” said Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus shale coordinator for Clean Water Action. “That, however is not what the MSC is offering. If they want to keep a database for their own personal use that is fine but don't tout having a transparent process that is not open to everyone and requires a confidentiality agreement from some of those involved.”

               But Hvozdovich does say that pre-drill testing is key.

Conducting pre-drill or baseline testing is an important issue,” said Hvozdovich. “(But) industry developing a database doesn't real address the issue. Conducting pre-drill and baseline tests is a critical process in helping determine if future impacts to a resident’s water supply can be contributed to natural gas drilling operations. Currently it is within the industry's best interest to conduct these tests but it is not mandatory nor to my knowledge are there set parameters to test for.”

Hvozdovich suggests a different approach, that both DEP and the industry do mandatory pre-drill testing.

               “This testing should mirror each other in terms of how the sample is taken and what parameters are tested,” he said. “This way you have samples taken from separate entities that can be compared for discrepancies. These are also samples that can be referred to in case contamination issues occur down the line.”

He also said frequency of testing is another issue, and that multiple samples should be taken to gain a better understanding of what “may or may not be in someone’s water.”

               Adam Kron, lawyer for the Environmental Integrity Project, put it simply.

               “The Marcellus Shale Coalition’s pre-drill database is everything that’s wrong with the oil and gas industry right now,” he said. “While the industry has site-specific baseline data that it easily could release to the public with the flip of a switch, it chooses instead to hide behind non-disclosure agreements and ‘confidential business information.’ And then when a landowner or community finds that fracking has caused groundwater contamination, the industry turns about and claims that the contamination can’t be proven without pre-drill data.

“If fracking is safe, then why is the industry so worried about putting all the data on the table?”


6. Fracking, Corporate Power, Pollution, Got you          StressedSteinbraber Says DO SOMETHING

from Commencement address by Sandra Steingraber at SUNY-ESF:

            "Here’s the amazing secret about combining an unflinching willingness to look at the data with political action: it makes you happy. It gives you purpose. It makes brave. It makes you a hero. The people who are truly depressed and scared about our environmental situation are the people who aren’t doing anything about it. They suffer from what psychologists called well-informed futility system. They suffer from what I call being a good German in the face of an ecological holocaust. But that’s a choice. Instead of closing your eyes to hard environmental truths and pretending everything is fine, you could choose to be a member of the French resistance. You could choose to be an abolitionist. You could choose to fight.

          And here’s another secret: taking action makes you a better environmental scientist. There is a difference between being able to analyze environmental data objectively, which I believe in, and being neutral about the environmental crisis, which I don’t believe in. It turns out that it’s nobody’s job to take the hard truths of environmental data into the political arena and make sure they inform our laws and policies and our economic structures. We have to do that work ourselves.  And doing it is what makes science moral."



7. Water Used to Frack Is Draining Resources, Especially In Western U.S.

                Fracking uses so much water that it could threaten groundwater resources, especially in the Western U.S., two new reports conclude. The report from the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), found that fracking removes 7 billion gallons of water every year in just four states: North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado. The organization blames inadequate federal and state-level protections for the use and/or contamination of fresh water.

               "Fracking's growing demand for water can threaten availability of water for agriculture and Western rural communities," WORC board member Bob LeResche said in a prepared release. He also told The Dickinson Press that "Unless our states take real action soon, we stand to watch our agricultural economies, and even our human habitation of some places, disappear. Ninety-nine percent of rural Americans rely on groundwater for their domestic needs, as do 51 percent of all Americans." WORC is calling on states to improve the way they monitor and regulate oil and gas drilling, especially where it affects water — and in many states, water issues are handled by multiple agencies, none of which take full responsibility for water usage.


 WORC Report:


8. New Mexico County First In Nation to Ban Fracking to Safeguard Water

Acting to protect their water supply, the 5,000 residents of poor, conservative Mora County make it the first in the U.S. to ban fracking. Sitting in the tidy living room of the home they built themselves, Sandra and Roger Alcon inventory what they see as the bounty of their lives: freedom, family, community, land, animals … and water.

               "We've lived off the land for five generations," said Roger Alcon, 63, looking out on a northern New Mexico landscape of high mesas, ponderosa pines and black Angus cattle. "We have what we need. We've been very happy, living in peace."

               Wells are the Alcons' only source of water. The same is true for everyone else in Mora County, which is why last month this poor, conservative ranching region of energy-rich New Mexico became the first county in the nation to pass an ordinance banning hydraulic fracturing, the controversial oil and gas extraction technique known as "fracking" that has compromised water quantity and quality in communities around the country.

               "I don't want to destroy our water," Alcon said. "You can't drink oil."

               In embracing the ban, landowners turned their back on potentially lucrative royalty payments from drilling on their property and joined in a groundswell of civic opposition to fracking that is rolling west from Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania in the gas-rich Marcellus shale formation.

               Pittsburgh became the first U.S. city to outlaw fracking in November 2010 after it came to light that an energy company held a lease to drill under a beloved city cemetery.

               Since then, more than a dozen cities in the East have passed similar ordinances.”



               “Federal and State agents from the IRS, FBI, PA Attorney General’s office and PA DEP raided Minuteman Environmental Services (MES) May 29.

               MES is located at the Milton Industrial Park in Milton, PA, and has contracts to haul gas drilling waste.   Gov. Tom Corbett visited the Milton facility on Feb. 8, 2012, calling the Minuteman operation an “American success story.”  On Feb. 28, the Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce honored Minuteman with its “Business of the Year” award.

               The Lewisburg home of Brian Bolus, Minuteman’s CEO, was also raided.

Bolus donated $10,000 to Corbett’s campaign between 2009-2010. 

Agents were at the plant for more than 9 hours and seen carrying out boxes and boxes of presumably files, documents and other records.   Reports also stated agents were combing over every inch of the plant.

               Employees trying to get to work were stopped, frisked and vehicles searched.   A few employees inside the facility were handcuffed with zip ties.  They were told it was for their own protection.      

               Meanwhile, outside, workers from the Milton Regional Sewer Authority and agents were seen opening up and inspecting sewers near the MES facility.

               None of the involved agencies would comment on why they were there and only said they would be there awhile due to an ongoing investigation.   Minuteman Environmental Services also declined to comment.

               In 2011, MES was fined $7,000 by DEP for dumping and storing waste without DEP approval at sites in Green Township, Clinton County, and White Deer Township, Union County.  DEP stated the facilities held waste from natural gas drilling sites in the Marcellus Shale.

               DEP was tipped off by a citizen’s complaint in July 2011.   MES received a notice from DEP in August 2011 requiring the removal and proper disposal of the waste. Ten containers of gas-well drill cutting waste were found at the Green Township site, and 7 at White Deer.   Six of the White Deer containers held plastic lines, and one had liquid from a gas well spill.


A pile of waste on the ground was also found in White Deer. A follow-up inspection in September confirmed that MES had complied.

David Spandoni, DEP Spokesperson, would not comment on whether DEP had the authority to shut down businesses which have these types of violations.   Spandoni did say, “We have no intention of shutting this [MES] business down.”

A call to PEC/Premier for comment was not returned by press time Monday.

               The general assumption as to why the raid occurred, involves disposal of natural gas waste as suggested by agents and local workers inspecting sewer drains.

It is curious that if this is all there is to the story, why are IRS and FBI agents involved?   Why were boxes and boxes of records confiscated, employees frisked, some handcuffed, vehicles searched and Bolus’s home also raided? Surely, if it was just dumping, DEP could handle slapping MES on the wrist.  If it is just about dumping, perhaps on scale large enough to attract Federal attention, where’s the EPA?  Wouldn’t they have sent an agent or two along?

What’s the IRS’s part in this if it is just a case of dumping?”

  by Dory Hippauf


10. Gas Is a Bridge Fuel To Nowhere by David Suzuki

               “British Columbia (B.C.) appears to be pinning its economic hopes on natural gas—much of it obtained by fracking. While the world should be turning from fossil fuels to cleaner energy and conservation, we’re poised to dig ourselves deeper into the climate-altering carbon hole. 

Taking a cue from the liquidation-sale policies of the Alberta and federal governments, B.C.’s leaders want to get fossil fuels out of the ground, piped to the coast, liquefied and shipped to Asia—or wherever they can find buyers—as quickly as possible. It’s a short-sighted plan based on outmoded thinking. In the long run, it’s not good for the economy or the environment.

               Whether politicians believe fossil fuel supplies are endless or can only see as far as the next election, they’re selling out our future and leaving a shattered legacy for our kids and grandkids. To start, natural gas is not the clean-energy solution it’s touted to be. According to the Pembina Institute, if only five of the 12 proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals were built on the B.C. coast, they could spew 63 million tons of carbon a year into the atmosphere—exceeding the amount now produced by the Alberta tar sands and equal to all of B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. Discharged particle matter and volatile organic compounds would also be significant new sources of pollution.

               Liquefying the gas for export, which requires enormous amounts of energy, isn’t the only source of greenhouse gases. Leaks–or what the industry refers to as “fugitive emissions”–during drilling, extraction and transport are also concerns. Although the B.C. Environment Ministry claims just .3 to .4 percent of gas escapes into the atmosphere, independent studies say it’s likely many times that amount.

According to an article in Nature, scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado in Boulder found leaks of methane—a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide—amounted to between four and nine percent of total production at two gas fields in the U.S.

               The industry also relies on taxpayers’ money to subsidize it, through tax and royalty credits, and to provide water, roads and the massive amounts of energy required to liquefy the gas. And fugitive emissions from gas operations are exempt from the carbon tax. If we are really “bridging” to reduce fossil fuels, why are we subsidizing companies for their carbon costs?

               It’s time to invest our money and human resources in long-term, innovative ideas that will create good, lasting jobs and ensure that we and our children and grandchildren continue to enjoy healthy and prosperous lives and that our spectacular “supernatural” environment is protected. We have abundant renewable resources and opportunities to conserve energy and lead the way in developing clean energy. It’s time to move forward.”

For the rest of the article:


11. Fracking Economics

               “The reports, Drill Baby Drill by veteran coal and gas geologist David Hughes, and Shale and Wall Street by financial analyst Deborah Rogers, assess the economic sustainability of the oil/ shale gas booms and comprise a thorough and up-to-date analysis of data on more than 60,000 oil and gas wells and a comprehensive review of the financial status of the companies involved.

               Together, the authors conclude that rather than offering the nation a century of cheap energy and economic prosperity, fracking will provide only a decade of gas and oil abundance, at most, and is creating a fragile new financial bubble that is already starting to deflate. Additional research conclusions discussed at the briefing included:

               1. The shale gas and tight oil booms have been oversold. According to actual well production data filed in many states, shale gas and shale oil reserves have been overestimated by operators by as much as 400-500 percent.

               2. Wall Street has played a key behind-the-scenes role in hyping the fracking boom through mergers and acquisitions and transactional fees, similar to the pattern seen in the housing boom that led to the financial crisis.

               3. High productivity shale plays are not common. Just five gas plays and two oil plays account for 80 percent of production of those energy sources, while the most productive areas constitute relatively small “sweet spots” within those plays.

               4. Production rates are already in decline in many shale plays. The high rates of per-well investment required to maintain production mean U.S. shale gas production may have already peaked and maintaining production will require high rates of potentially unsustainable, high-cost drilling.

               “The fracking debate in New York and nationwide has been consistently framed as a way to generate economic benefits and job creation, with limited risk of environmental and public health impacts,” says Deborah Rogers. “But data don’t lie. In every region where shale gas development occurs, economic stability has proven elusive—yet environmental degradation and peripheral costs have proved very real.”

               “Based on our research and what is increasingly evident in gas and oil fields, a new energy dialogue is clearly needed nationally and in states like New York,” says David Hughes. “Given the true potential, limitations, and both financial and environmental costs of the energy panaceas being touted by industry and government proponents, it will simply not be possible to drill and frack our way to ‘energy independence.’”

12. One Earth, One Struggle: The fight for our lives against ‘extreme energy’ technology

By John Detweiler for Marcellus Protest Newsletter

                “The strategy of ‘Divide and Conquer’ is as old as the origins of the animal kingdom. Members of more vulnerable species know that sticking together improves their chances of survival. Predators, for their part, work to isolate and overpower their victims one-by-one.

               We are engaged in this timeless battle again, as our own human family responds to the inhuman threat from extreme energy technologies: exemplified by hydraulic fracturing of deep shales, but also encompassing nuclear reactors, mountain-top removal, the quarrying of tar sands, and deep-water and polar drilling.

               The predator’s Divide-and-Conquer strategy plays out through pitting geographies and economic strata against each other, and by inciting phoney ‘pick your poison’ debates over which mode of extreme energy technology is better or worse than another.

               A basic ’geographic’ ploy is to isolate the sub-processes of a single technology, so that its alleged benefits and its ultimate costs will fall upon different communities. Take fracking, for example: its fresh water is obtained from one place, its waste water is dumped in another; its sand is mined in yet another, and its transient workers have their emotional roots in places far away from those homes, farms and forests that they’ve been hired to disrupt.

               In Pennsylvania, the frackers tell us that “fracking fluid is just water and sand.” This is meant to sound benign, and at first it does (ignoring those other deadly additives), until we learn for ourselves that the “sand” isn’t from the beach: it’s strip-mined in Wisconsin, with environmental destruction and human health impacts comparable to the direct effects of fracking in our region.

               In isolation, each sub-process is portrayed as ‘inevitable’, driven by other sub-processes which are too far away to understand or to influence. Thus, since ‘Fracking is already happening’ in Pennsylvania, Ohioans are told that it’s hopeless to fight against wastewater injection in their state — and that ‘jobs’ will be lost if the waste goes somewhere else. The question, “What does toxic wastewater do to us all?” isn’t discussed in either state.

               Cultural and economic differences are exploited as well. The promise of blue-collar ‘jobs’ is used to neutralize the ‘elitist’ warnings of scientists, while industry ‘experts’ are employed to trivialize the first-hand experiences of farmers and homeowners.

               And Americans, made dependent on our cheap-energy lifestyle through the dismantling of public infrastructure, are shamed into silence by accusations of ‘denying progress’ to the peoples of other countries—whose own economies and autonomy are being undermined by the forces of extreme energy technology.

               Finally, we are goaded into arguments about ‘coal versus gas’ or ‘American gas versus foreign oil’, when it should be clear that there is no choice to be made. Under our free market ideology, no mode of capital-intensive extreme energy will surrender its market to another—each one appeals to its own constituencies (investors, workers, academics and politicians) for more money, longer hours, more exotic gadgets, more time, in order to meet the ‘threat’ from all the other modes. Unless we see them all as one, we will have them all at once: more and more and more.

               Lately, Divide-and-Conquer is undercutting cooperation among environmental activists. Some of us are offered “a seat at the table” as reward for being “reasonable”; others are marginalized, to be picked-off in isolation.

               The devastation from extreme energy technology is global and universal. Three times as much carbon-based fuel is already under development as our global climate can survive, and yet ever deeper deposits are being targeted, with ever higher costs of extraction. Anything that we can do, we must do; everything we do matters. We are in this together, fighting for our lives.”



Photo: Pipeline Crossing Rt 220 Sonestown, Davidson Twp., from John Trallo