Friday, August 23, 2013

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates             August 22, 2013

*  For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
*  To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information
*  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:      


Thank you to Bob Donnan, Debbie Borowiec, Marian Szmyd and others who contribute to this newsletter. jan

Volunteer!—Hand Out Flyers at County Fair 

In an effort to get information to a wider population base in Westmoreland County we are going to hand materials out at the County Fair on Friday at 7pm.  We are going to meet at the entrance of the main gate.  Join us if you can!  Time commitment is up to you.  Stay for 30 minutes or stay for two hours.  Please be advised to bring a satchel to carry materials in for your comfort!    The fair is at the County Fair Grounds.  If you have trouble finding us, or the fair, call Jan 412-298-3476 or Kathryn 803-646-8243.  For those interested some of us may stay to go in the fair after we’ve passed out materials, everyone is welcome to join in this!

            For the sake of conserving gas, don’t feel obligated to attend if you live far from Unity!  If you would like to do a mass dispersal of information at an event near you, contact to arrange!



 ***Constituents of Senator Don White

(and non-constituents affected by his leadership):

               Mountain Watershed Assoc.  has a meeting with Sen. White next Wednesday, Aug. 28th to discuss the issues outlined below. Originally this was focused on Ferlo’s moratorium legislation but we are now just focusing on  “solutions” to the problems listed and leaving the moratorium bill out of it for now.

               We need *you* to call and request a meeting. White’s office not only has a tiny space but we only have ½ an hour, 11-11:30 on Wed. Aug 28th with him and his staff. I asked when the senator would be back in Murrysville; the secretary said it depended on requests. So – 


PLEASE CALL (866) 736-9448 ASAP and tell the secretary if you had planned to attend a meeting for constituents with Mountain Watershed Association and say you understand there is only 30 minutes, but that isn’t enough time to meet with the senator so can you have another meeting. Suggest he make time to meet with all constituents concerned about the issue of dangerous, fast-paced, and unfair shale gas development at once due to the ever-increasing encroachment of industrial activity that comes with huge health, safety, and environmental risks. 



PLEASE CALL (866) 736-9448 ASAP and tell the secretary you had planned to attend a meeting on Aug. 28th with Mountain Watershed Association but understand there is only 30 minutes, but that isn’t enough time to meet with the senator so can you have another meeting. Note that you’re not a constituent but are affected by the Senator’s leadership. Suggest he make time to meet with all who are impacted by his work regarding the shale gas development, aka fracking.


We seek solutions to these growing issues:

 *Permits issued for this activity exceed the state’s capacity to adequately protect the environment and public. Mountain Watershed Association recently attended a meeting with heads of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  One recurring answer to our inquiries about DEP policy and procedures for oil and gas impacts occurring throughout shale-field communities was, ‘We don’t have the capacity (time and budget).’


*Unresolved injustice. MWA responds to citizen complaints of impact such as water contamination. Several cases we work on, as well as many others, are still unresolved and citizens are unjustly bearing the burdens created by others. Until an adequate, rapid response system is in place at the state or federal level, we do not support continuing down the same path that has created these impacts and will only continue to create more. 

*Toxic secrets. The oil and gas industry enjoys exemptions from our most stringent environmental laws. Operators are still not required by law to disclose the specific contents of the toxic cocktails used for their ‘slickwater, horizontal hydraulic fracturing.’ Without full disclosure of chemicals, the public cannot be adequately protected and testing standards for soil, air, water, and food cannot be properly updated.  In addition, this is an unconstitutional special treatment of one industry allowing them to withhold information that belongs to the public. Ultimately, allowing toxic mixtures to be hidden from communities does not promote the economic health of the Commonwealth nor the physical health of the people living here. 

*Unbalanced priorities. There is no comprehensive plan for the full-scale implementation of shale gas infrastructure across Pennsylvania, even though Dr. Terry Engelder of Penn State University (the ‘Godfather’ of the Marcellus Shale’) says himself that shale gas will consume about 50% of PA’s land mass over the course of development. There are no environmental or health impact studies on the effects of shale gas extraction in Pennsylvania. Our state seems to value profits over proactive, principled common sense values. Pushing ‘Pause’ on fracking provides time to assess and adjust.

FYI - The secretary couldn’t understand why anyone would want to drive to Indiana to meet with him (some of you offered to carpool to Indiana) if they were from Westmoreland. I finally said, “Why would people want to talk to their elected official so badly?” She kept saying, “Well, are these people all constituents? They should be meeting with their own senators.” I replied, “These are constituents.” Her: “Well we’ve never heard from them before.” Me: “Well, as development encroaches on more and more backyards, more and more people have a need to talk to their senator.”

Please call!




***Tell DEP-- You want more input on environmental permits

               DEP proposed participation policy does not apply to DEP general permits, permits by rule, and other permits that are not published in the PA Bulletin. This policy continues the status quo of the unacceptable lack of public input on many permits and projects that have far-reaching and substantial impacts on the environment and our communities.

               An example of a permit that does not require publication in PA Bulletin is the drilling permit for a natural gas well. Wells are drilled and entire regions get built out with gas well pads, pipelines, and their infrastructure without public involvement in the permit process and without public awareness of how a region can be affected.

               Please write PADEP and tell them you want MORE participation in the permits it issues because the present sorry state of affairs is unacceptable!
               Send a letter today with a click. Deadline for comments in Tuesday, August 27, close of business. Comments must include the originator's name and address or they will not be accepted by PADEP.


***Stop Fracking of Public Lands

From Breast Cancer Action

               “Do public lands in the U.S. really belong to you and me? If they do, shouldn’t we have a say in how they are used – especially if the decision could be harmful to public health?

               The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering new regulations that will allow private companies to drill and frack for oil and gas on public lands. We say: NO WAY.

               We will not stand idly by while our government allows private companies to drill public lands and pump it full of chemicals that harm our health.

Fracking on public lands jeopardizes drinking water across the country -- from Washington to West Virginia, from Montana to Florida. Each time a new well is fracked, tens of thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals, including known human carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, are pumped deep underground to force oil or natural gas to the surface.

                                             Take action right now so President Obama hears our message loud and clear:   Ban Fracking on Our Public Lands!

               There’s no un-contaminating our water supply. Now’s the time for us to act – together.

Annie Sartor, Policy and Campaigns Coordinator, Breast Cancer Action”


***Ask Pres. Obama to Resume Fracking Studies

               From Food and Water Watch

               “Last week, there was breaking news from EPA whistle-blowers that in 2012 the EPA abandoned an investigation of fracking-related water contamination in Dimock, Pennsylvania after an EPA staff member raised the flag that it was likely caused by fracking¹.

               There's an unfortunate trend here, because they've also abandoned their fracking-related water contamination investigations in Pavillion, Wyoming² and Weatherford, Texas³.  This is unbelievable, and totally unacceptable.

               Will you join me today in calling on President Obama and his new EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to immediately reopen these investigations and deliver safe drinking water to the residents of these communities while the investigations commence?

               Thanks for taking action,

Sarah Alexander, Deputy Organizing Director,   Food & Water Watch”

Frack Links

***Rob Rogers Fracking Cartoon    An excerpt:

 “The whole idea of marketing fracking as a “festival” makes me uncomfortable.”

“What’s next the “Carbon monoxide expo” or the “Mercury-poisoning regatta?”


***Colbert Video -- Range Pays for Silence on Fracking and  Health Problems

Colbert’s Satire on Hallowich Case


***To sign up for notifications of activity and violations for your area:


***List of the Harmed--There are now over 1300 residents of Pennsylvania who placed their names on the list of the harmed because they became sick after fracking began in their area .


***Problems with Gas?—Report It-from Clean Air Council

               Clean Air Council is announcing a new auto-alert system for notifying relevant agencies about odors, noises or visible emissions that residents suspect are coming from natural gas operations in their community.

               Just fill out the questions below and our system will automatically generate and send your complaint to the appropriate agencies.

Agencies that will receive your e-mail: the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (Regional Office of sender and Harrisburg Office), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Take Action Here

If you witness the release of potentially hazardous material into the environment, please also use the National Response Center's online form below:

 Thanks for your help.

Sincerely, , Matt Walker, Community Outreach Director, Clean Air Council


***Dr. Brasch Hosts Fracking Program-- Dr. Walter Brasch, author of the critically acclaimed book, Fracking Pennsylvania, is hosting a weekly half-hour radio show about fracking. "The Frack Report" airs 7:30 p.m., Mondays (beginning July 29) and is re-run 7:30 a.m., Wednesdays, on WFTE-FM (90.3 in Mt. Cobb and 105.7 in Scranton.) The show will be also be live streamed at and also available a day after the Monday night broadcast on the station's website. Brasch's first guest is Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth. He will be interviewing activists, persons affected by fracking, scientists, and politicians. Each show will also feature news about fracking and the anti-fracking movement.

               Brasch is a multi-award-winning four-decade journalist and social activist, a former newspaper reporter and editor, multimedia production writer-producer. Among his most recent awards are those from the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association, Pennsylvania Press Club, National Federation of Press Women, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and Society of Professional Journalists. He is professor emeritus from the Pa. State System of Higher Education. He is also the author of 17 books, most fusing history with contemporary social issues.

Skytruth Report Details-

“A Few Recent Violations”

NRC Report
ID: 1057105
Incident Time: 2013-08-09 06:00:00
Nearest City: Waynesburg, PA
Incident Type: FIXED
Medium Affected: WATER
Suspected Responsible Party: EQT PRODUCTIONS
SkyTruth Analysis
Lat/Long: 39.900367, -80.177726 (Approximated from CITY_STATE)
Report Description



NRC Report ID: 1057513
Incident Time: 2013-08-18 11:05:00
Nearest City: Canonsburg, PA
Incident Type: FIXED
Medium Affected: AIR
SkyTruth Analysis
Lat/Long: 40.254024, -80.236490 (Approximated from route)
Report Description



PA Permit Violation Issued to Chevron Appalachia Llc in South Huntingdon Twp, Westmoreland CountyAdministrative violation issued on 2013-08-14 to Chevron Appalachia Llc in South Huntingdon Twp, Westmoreland county. 206C - Failure to restore well site within nine months after completion of drilling, failure to remove all pits, drilling supplies and equipment not needed for production. 

PA Permit Violation Issued to Chevron Appalachia Llc in Salem Twp, Westmoreland CountyAdministrative violation issued on 2013-08-14 to Chevron Appalachia Llc in Salem Twp, Westmoreland county. 206C - Failure to restore well site within nine months after completion of drilling, failure to remove all pits, drilling supplies and equipment not needed for production.


PA Permit Violation Issued to Chevron Appalachia Llc in South Huntingdon Twp, Westmoreland CountyAdministrative violation issued on 2013-08-14 to Chevron Appalachia Llc in South Huntingdon Twp, Westmoreland county. 206C - Failure to restore well site within nine months after completion of drilling, failure to remove all pits, drilling supplies and equipment not needed for production.


PA Permit Violation Issued to Chevron Appalachia Llc in Sewickley Twp, Westmoreland CountyAdministrative violation issued on 2013-08-14 to Chevron Appalachia Llc in Sewickley Twp, Westmoreland county. 206C - Failure to restore well site within nine months after completion of drilling, failure to remove all pits, drilling supplies and equipment not needed for production.

Frack News

Gangplank to a Warm Future


               As a longtime oil and gas engineer who helped develop shale fracking techniques for the Energy Department, I can assure you that this gas is not “clean.” Because of leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas, the gas extracted from shale deposits is not a “bridge” to a renewable energy future — it’s a gangplank to more warming and away from clean energy investments.

               Methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, though it doesn’t last nearly as long in the atmosphere. Still, over a 20-year period, one pound of it traps as much heat as at least 72 pounds of carbon dioxide. Its potency declines, but even after a century, it is at least 25 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. When burned, natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, but methane leakage eviscerates this advantage because of its heat-trapping power.

               And methane is leaking, though there is significant uncertainty over the rate. But recent measurements by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at gas and oil fields in California, Colorado and Utah found leakage rates of 2.3 percent to 17 percent of annual production, in the range my colleagues at Cornell and I predicted some years ago. This is the gas that is released into the atmosphere unburned as part of the hydraulic fracturing process, and also from pipelines, compressors and processing units. Those findings raise questions about what is happening elsewhere. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued new rules to reduce these emissions, but the rules don’t take effect until 2015, and apply only to new wells.

               A 2011 study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research concluded that unless leaks can be kept below 2 percent, gas lacks any climate advantage over coal. And a study released this May by Climate Central, a group of scientists and journalists studying climate change, concluded that the 50 percent climate advantage of natural gas over coal is unlikely to be achieved over the next three to four decades. Unfortunately, we don’t have that long to address climate change — the next two decades are crucial.

               To its credit, the president’s plan recognizes that “curbing emissions of methane is critical.” However, the release of unburned gas in the production process is not the only problem. Gas and oil wells that lose their structural integrity also leak methane and other contaminants outside their casings and into the atmosphere and water wells. Multiple industry studies show that about 5 percent of all oil and gas wells leak immediately because of integrity issues, with increasing rates of leakage over time. With hundreds of thousands of new wells expected, this problem is neither negligible nor preventable with current technology.

               Why do so many wells leak this way? Pressures under the earth, temperature changes, ground movement from the drilling of nearby wells and shrinkage crack and damage the thin layer of brittle cement that is supposed to seal the wells. And getting the cement perfect as the drilling goes horizontally into shale is extremely challenging. Once the cement is damaged, repairing it thousands of feet underground is expensive and often unsuccessful. The gas and oil industries have been trying to solve this problem for decades.

               The scientific community has been waiting for better data from the E.P.A. to assess the extent of the water contamination problem. That is why it is so discouraging that, in the face of industry complaints, the E.P.A. reportedly has closed or backed away from several investigations into the problem. Perhaps a full E.P.A. study of hydraulic fracturing and drinking water, due in 2014, will be more forthcoming. In addition, drafts of an Energy Department study suggest that there are huge problems finding enough water for fracturing future wells. The president should not include this technology in his energy policy until these studies are complete.

               We have renewable wind, water, solar and energy-efficiency technology options now. We can scale these quickly and affordably, creating economic growth, jobs and a truly clean energy future to address climate change. Political will is the missing ingredient. Meaningful carbon reduction is impossible so long as the fossil fuel industry is allowed so much influence over our energy policies and regulatory agencies. Policy makers need to listen to the voices of independent scientists while there is still time.


Anthony R. Ingraffea is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Cornell University and the president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, a nonprofit group.


2. Act 13 Update—Attorney General Kane Does Not Join with           State on Re-arguing the Case

          After the municipalities' filing last week (to oppose the PUC and DEP's request to re-argue Act 13), the PUC and DEP filed a request with the PA Supreme Court seeking leave to reply.

               The Supreme Court gave the municipalities an opportunity to respond to their request.  The municipalities filed that pleading with the court today.   All 4 documents are attached.

               Of importance, which isn't attached, is that the PA Attorney General did not join with the PUC and DEP's request to re-argue Act 13.

               A possible explanation as to why the PA AG did not join with the PUC and DEP is:

               In the municipalities' first response, it was pointed out to the court that the PUC and DEP are not the governmental bodies entrusted with defending the constitutionality of PA laws; the Attorney General has that job.

               With that being said only the Gov. appointed heads of the PUC and DEP seek re-argument of Act 13, not the PA Attorney General, who has the duty to defend the law.

               A possible interpretation of the PA AG decision to break with PUC / DEP and Corbett, is that legally they don't agree with their counterpart's decision.   Interestingly, this is the first Act 13 issue that (newly elected) AG Kane is involved in - not Corbett's handpicked successor, who ran the show when Act 13 started last year. “


Act 13 Watch: PUC and DEP File Petition To Get New Justice Involved

               By Penn Future

               “As has been reported, the Pennsylvania PUC and DEP filed a joint petition last week requesting that the Robinson Township case, which challenges the constitutionality of Act 13, be resubmitted to the full Court so that new Justice Correale Stevens may participate in the  decision. 

               When oral argument was heard on October 17, 2012, there were only six justices on the bench as former Justice Joan Orie Melvin was suspended while being prosecuted for public corruption charges. She was eventually convicted.

               Governor Corbett appointed Correale Stevens to replace Melvin. He was sworn in last Tuesday, and though the Supreme Court has yet to decide the Robinson Township case, it said that Stevens would not participate in the decision unless he heard oral argument. According to StateImpact, a spokeswoman for the Court indicated that it has rarely ordered re-argument, but that another avenue for Stevens to participate might be for the parties to resubmit briefs. Considering that the Supreme Court said that oral argument was an "integral" part of their decision-making process, it is difficult to understand how resubmitting briefs in an already well-briefed case would, by itself, make a difference in whether Justice Stevens should participate in the decision.

               To review, the Commonwealth Court in Robinson Township decided that a provision of Act 13, which mandated municipalities to allow industrial activities in areas not zoned for those activities, unconstitutionally harmed those that depended on that zoning to purchase property in the district, in violation of their substantive due process rights under Art. 1, Sec. 1 of the Pa. Constitution. The Commonwealth Court also declared unconstitutional a separate provision granting DEP the right to waive gas well set-back requirements because the legislature provided no guidance for the executive branch agency to exercise that discretion, in violation of Art 1, Sec. 2 of the Pa. Constitution. In effect, the Court said that the legislature did not properly delegate its authority to the DEP.     

               While on the Superior Court, Justice Stevens issued no opinions on the constitutional provisions relied on by the majority in Robinson Township to strike down portions of Act 13. He did participate in a handful of decisions that raised substantive due process claims, but those cases were criminal cases that shed little light on his views. For example, Commonwealth v. Gaines involved a claim that substantive due process entitled an individual to have his arrest record expunged, and Commonwealth v. Teeter involved an individual's right to be free from vague and discriminatory sentencing statutes. Both principles are well established, but the claims of the individual defendants were rejected in those cases without much analysis.

               During his tenure, Justice Stevens has not issued or joined an opinion that reveals his view of how the courts should use substantive due process to protect an individual's right to life, liberty and, in particular, the right to acquire, own and protect property as guaranteed by Art 1, Sec. 1 of the Pa. Constitution.”


3. Hearing On Range’s Mt Pleasant Impoundment

               “A zoning hearing regarding Range Resources’ use of four water impoundment facilities in Mt. Pleasant Township at times grew heated and was continued because residents did not have a chance to testify as it grew late.

               Why doesn’t Range tell everyone what they’re doing?” asked Dwight Ferguson, the attorney representing a number of residents affected by the impoundments. “This has become a tri-state water treatment facility. That’s what’s going on.”

               Mt. Pleasant recently sent Range zoning permit violations for one fresh water and three used water impoundments near natural gas wells in the township after officials became aware the well pads closest to the sites stopped production. The municipality wanted the impoundments removed and restored.

               Range attorney Shawn Gallagher argued the impoundments were not regulated by the township, but rather by the state DEP. He argued the impoundments were a legal nonconforming use and did not count as a well pad accessory, therefore did not fall under the purview of the township ordinance.

               Representatives from Range asserted the impoundments were being utilized by about 20 wells in nearby municipalities and that the company may utilize it for possible future drilling in Mt. Pleasant.

                              Gallagher and Range faced opposition from both Ferguson, who represented about seven families, and township solicitor Bill Johnson.

               As the two sides duked it out, zoning officer Barry Johnston reminded them how the issue had originally evolved.

               “I think it’s about scope,” Johnston said about the case. “When this ordinance was written, we thought well pad and accessory use (such) as impoundments could fit in this room. We thought when these things came out onto our farms, it was not that big of a deal.

               “As the situation is, we are, in a sense, overrun with magnitude … it’s the scope in terms of it happened without us even knowing about it – it just came upon us.”


4. Protesters Object to Drilling in Allegheny County Parks

                “They promised they would come, and they did. Dozens of protesters with pamphlets to spare packed Allegheny County Council's meeting Tuesday night, speaking against the push to drill for natural gas beneath county parks -- a plan that they say betrays the county's commitment to preserve parkland for perpetuity. While drilling beneath Deer Lakes Park is still far off -- Marcellus Shale wasn't on Tuesday night's rather light meeting agenda-- the protesters said they would rather speak their mind now than wait for the deal to be signed. One speaker equated fracturing liquid to male bodily fluid in a spoken-word poem; another later led the crowd in singing an anti-fracking folk song.

               "The parks are not to be bought and sold as commodities for profit," said Carrie White, who lives near the park. "Let's look at the ramifications of what's proposed, and who will be held accountable." It was a raucous crowd by council standards, which usually tends more to golf-clap applause than the hearty whoops of support heard Tuesday night. More than 50 people signed up to speak during the 31/2-hour meeting. Time might not be on the protesters' side. By the end of the month, the county hopes to release a request for proposals to drill beneath Deer Lakes Park, whose 1,180 acres straddle Frazer and West Deer. The deal is likely to go to energy giant Range Resources, which has leased most of the surrounding land and has already secured permits for three drilling sites near the park's borders.”


5. Public Photos Facilitate Crackdown On Gas Plant In Chartiers

                “Residents have complained for years about thick black smoke and possible pollution coming from the MarkWest gas plant in Chartiers. But the state DEP said it couldn't take action because it had no evidence. On Tuesday, the department said it had the goods. Someone snapped pictures of a plume of black smoke coming from the plant on July 14 and 15 and sent them to regulators. The DEP said that the deluge of photos sent directly to its workers last month will likely lead to the first state environmental fine against the plant, owned by MarkWest Energy Partners LP. The pictures provided the evidence the agency needed that the plant was violating state environmental regulations, DEP spokesman John Poister said. “We can't be everywhere, so we appreciate the help we can get when something like this is going on,”

               This case was particularly clear-cut, Poister said. The plant — which processes ethane, propane and butane out of the natural gas extracted from the Marcellus shale — is not supposed to emit any black smoke, a sign of air pollution. So when inspectors saw photos with black smoke, which witnesses claimed they could see from miles away, the state had the evidence it needed to assess violations against MarkWest, Poister said. “Why does it take so long to get someone's attention with this?” said Mark Bastien, who lives less than two miles from the plant and can see emissions from his backyard. “We're just so frustrated because this has been going on for four or five years. We don't know what we're breathing out there.”


6. Comment from Bob on radioactivity:

               Just to think a few years ago this water-soluble radioactive waste was getting dumped into our drinking water source, no holds barred. We can thank the EPA for getting that dumping drastically reduced, because it sure didn’t appear our DEP was going to do very much. And no surprise to once again hear John Poister of the Pa DEP ‘explaining away’ the seriousness of all this radioactive waste.

 New York Imports Pennsylvania’s Radioactive Fracking Waste Despite Falsified Water Tests

By Peter Mantius, on August 14th, 2013

                “Questions about the integrity of official water tests are stirring the latest controversy over New York State’s embattled policy of allowing imports of radioactive waste from natural gas drilling operations in Pennsylvania.        

The issue arose last month in Casella Waste Systems’ bid to speed up by 49 percent deliveries to its Hyland Landfill in Angelica, about 80 miles south of Rochester. Neighbors of the landfill and the Sierra Club are asking the state to conduct a full environmental review of the case or at least to hold a public hearing on it. So far, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has not responded to those requests. “We are currently reviewing the comments received on the Casella solid waste application, and no decisions have been made,” said Lisa King, a DEC public information officer.

               Meanwhile, water testing data related to Hyland and a wastewater treatment plant that accepts its leachate have been linked to a Syracuse laboratory that pled guilty in July to one felony count of mail fraud in a case said to involve 3,300 falsified water tests.

               Federal prosecutors and the DEC have so far declined to provide details of the faked tests. But documents obtained by DCBureau confirm that the guilty company, Upstate Laboratories Inc., analyzed material from Hyland as recently as this past February. “It doesn’t allay our concerns that these guys have been dealing with a crooked lab,” said Gary Abraham, an attorney for Concerned Citizens of Allegany County, a group opposing Hyland’s latest permit bid.

               The permit application is the last chapter in a long-simmering controversy over the DEC’s narrow interpretation of its responsibility to monitor radioactive waste. That legal stance has opened the door for imports of waste from horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania.

               Most shale formations contain naturally occurring radioactive material, or NORM. Although contamination levels vary widely from well to well, the Marcellus formation is suspected to be the most radioactive of all the nation’s shales.

               The brine, rock cuttings and drilling mud from Marcellus wells are likely to contain heightened levels of radium isotopes, including Radium 226, which is especially dangerous because it is soluble in water. Earlier this year, state regulators in Pennsylvania launched a study of radioactivity in Marcellus drilling waste, giving drillers in that state further incentive to find dumping options across the New York border. New York has not conducted or planned a similar study.”

- See more at:


7. Conflict of Interest by Director of PA Game Commission?

               “William A. Capouillez may be the hardest-working man in Harrisburg. From 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, Capouillez works as a director for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, where his responsibilities include overseeing leases for oil and natural gas development on 1.4 million acres of public game lands. Capouillez has a profitable side job. He acts as an agent for property owners who lease their land for oil and gas development, signing private deals with the same companies that often work with his state agency.

                Business rivals, including other leasing agents and drilling companies, have complained for years to legislators and to the Governor's Office that Capouillez's dual roles represent a conflict of interest. Capouillez in 2012 sued the owners of a private hunting club and the drilling company Range Resources Corp. for cutting him out of a lease that could have earned him millions of dollars in gas royalties.

               "I felt if the conflict of interest wasn't a concern for the Game Commission, it wasn't a concern for me," said Sweger, then the head of the Washington County Farm Bureau. He signed up and introduced Capouillez to other farmers. "In a way, I helped to create Bill," Sweger said. "The activity I got him involved with made him a millionaire many times over." Capouillez's side job rubbed some people the wrong way. Rival leasing agents felt Capouillez had more credibility with potential clients by virtue of his state job. "This guy's a snake in the woods as far as we're concerned," said Mark Thompson, president of Horizontal Exploration L.L.C., an Indiana, Pa., drilling firm.”


8. MarkWest Cited in Fish Kill- WVA

          West Virginia environmental regulators cited MarkWest Energy for "conditions not allowable in the waters of the state" following a natural gas liquids spill from one of MarkWest's pipelines in northern Wetzel County. The spill occurred last week following a landslide. It has led to a fish kill in Rocky Run, a tributary of Fish Creek. Minnows, smallmouth bass and other species of fish died from the spill, Jernejcic said. "We never will know exactly how many were killed," he said, noting the DNR will use the wildlife composition of a comparable "reference stream" to estimate the number of dead fish.

WVA DEP spokeswoman Kathy Cosco said officials remain unable to closely examine the Rocky Run area where the liquid was released, as the "vapors are keeping us from getting close." Cosco said it appears a landslide affected the pipeline, which then ruptured. She said the spill involved a "liquid gas" and that many natural gas liquids - propane, ethane, butane, pentanes and others - can vaporize when their liquid forms come in contact with water.”


9. Andy Schrader Asks Washington County District Attorney to           Investigate Cecil Board

               “A Cecil Township supervisor has called on the Washington County District Attorney to investigate whether three members of his board who met privately with Southpointe-based Range Resources on issues related to the Worstell impoundment violated the state Sunshine Act.

               Supervisor Andy Schrader said he was made aware of the private meeting through an email sent by Range Resources government affairs representative Jim Cannon.  A violation of the Sunshine Law is a criminal act, and the district attorney would have jurisdiction.

               That email thanked the township for the meeting with supervisors Tom Casciola, Elizabeth Cowden and Frank Ludwin on Aug. 6.

               The email was copied to all five Cecil supervisors, as well as township Manager Don Gennuso and some top brass at Range, including its Senior Vice President David M. Poole…..

               The private gathering, which was held the morning after the board's regular August meeting, was not mentioned by supervisors nor did it appear as an announcement on the agenda.

It came days before another private meeting regarding the Worstell impoundment with the state DEP.”


10. Seitel, Ltd Files Lawsuit to Conduct Seismic Testing without           Following Regs

               “On Monday, August 5, 2013, Seitel Data, Ltd filed a lawsuit against Potter Township and Hopewell Township, PA.


Over the course of the past 7 months Seitel has been engaged in efforts to obtain landowner permission to perform seismic testing on private property in Beaver County.  This testing involves the placement and discharge of underground explosives and recording geophones in order to obtain a picture of the geologic strata rich with natural gas.  This valuable information will then be sold by Seitel to the oil and gas industry including Range Resources and Shell who have commissioned the survey.

  However, with the minimal and non-negotiable offer of $5 per acre and the risk of both structural damage and disturbance of natural water supplies, many landowners have refused to allow Seitel to test on their property.  Seitel then approached southern Beaver County municipalities with a request to vibe local roads with thumper trucks.  This vibing would enable Seitel to obtain a seismic survey of all properties within 7000 feet of the thumper truck without the need to obtain permission from these private property owners.  Hopewell and Potter adopted regulations relative to seismic testing operations within each Township.

               In the lawsuit filed by Seitel, it seeks to have these regulations set aside by the Court so that it may conduct seismic activities without any oversight.  In addition, Seitel seeks an order from the Court directing both Potter and Hopewell to allow Seitel to vibe local roads without any setback requirements and without regard to potential damage to abutting private properties and public infrastructure within the roadways.   Seitel has requested that the Commonwealth Court hold an expedited hearing on its request for an injunction so that Seitel may commence vibe testing or roads immediately.

Both Potter Township and Hopewell Township will defend this challenge for the protection of their residents and their public infrastructure.”


11. Wanda Guthrie of Thomas Merton Society on Divestiture


“The Environmental Justice Committee (of Thomas Merton, jan) is getting ready to welcome Bill McKibben with a call and petition to the Mayor and City Council Members of Pittsburgh


               We don't have to go along with this gas and oil industry. Other cities are doing this and the cities that do will be leaders in creating a new model for quality of life, environmental thrive-ability and economic success.

               We are calling on the City of Pittsburgh to:

Immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuels.

Divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years.


               The goal is to unhook Pittsburgh from the grip of the fossil fuel industry, which is preventing us from addressing climate change and forcing Pennsylvania to become a gas colony and pushing the Keystone pipeline through.

You can find a link to both the Online and Paper Petition on the Thomas Merton Center Environmental Justice Page.

               Faith communities are divesting. The Resolution of the United States Conference of the United Church of Christ makes the need of faith communities to lead crystal clear:

If you follow this path of divestment from fossil fuel companies you will

               drive public awareness of the incalculable damage being done for huge   immediate profits in exchange for an uninhabitable future;

               build public recognition of the urgent need to drastically and rapidly reduce dependence on fossil fuels;

               call widespread attention to the consequences of continuing a "business as usual" approach to extracting, marketing and burning fossil fuel;

               lead to inspiring an urgent, accelerated and popular commitment to leave untapped 80% of the known carbon reserves, while developing renewable energy resources capable of meeting human needs while making it possible that life as we have known it might continue on Earth.

UCC Resolution:

We don’t believe we can say it any better than the text of the UCC Resolution:

WHEREAS, the leaders of 167 countries (including the United States) have agreed that any warming of the planet above a 2°C (3.6°F) rise would be unsafe, and we have already (as of 2012) raised the temperature 0.8°C, causing far more damage than most scientists expected; and

WHEREAS, computer models show that even if we stopped increasing CO2 levels now, the temperature would continue to rise another 0.8°C, bringing the planet over three-quarters of the way to the 2°C limit; and

WHEREAS, scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and still have some reasonable hope of staying below 2°C; and

WHEREAS the proven coal, oil, and gas reserves of the fossil-fuel companies, and the countries (e.g. Venezuela or Kuwait) which act like fossil-fuel companies equals about 2,795 gigatons of CO2, or five times the amount we can release to maintain a 2°C limit of planetary warming; and

WHEREAS the purpose of fossil fuel companies is to make money for their shareholders by providing for the energy needs of the world using the resources they currently own or have rights to tap – and if they simply continue to carry out this purpose, they will raise the temperature of the earth far beyond what is hospitable for life as we know it; and

WHEREAS, because we are a covenant people and affirm Jesus’ call to love our neighbors as ourselves, we join God in recognizing our moral obligation to take into account how our decisions and activities affect all of creation now and into the future; and

WHEREAS even though God loved the world and called it very good, humanity’s normal, everyday activity is putting God’s world in jeopardy; and

WHEREAS over the past five or more decades, many bodies of the United Church of Christ, including the General Synod on numerous occasions, have recognized our moral obligation to be faithful stewards of God’s creation as well as acknowledging, in one way or another, that wrecking creation is a sin; and

WHEREAS the Core Purpose of the United Church of Christ states (in part): “… we serve God in the co- creation of a just and sustainable world as made manifest in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,”



The Environmental Justice Committee will break bread and invites you to come and talk about this.

Join us for the Monthly TMC Potluck on Thursday, September 19 at the Merton Center as we talk about Thrive-ability and Divestment from Fossil Fuels. George Hoguet, a Buddhist postulant, will speak to the moral and ethical reasons for divesting from fossil fuel for the health and well-being of all people and the survival of the planet. Bonnie DeCarlo, long-time TMC supporter and a professional financial planner will talk about socially responsible investments. Please bring food or drink to share. For more information contact Wanda Guthrie, Chair, Environmental Justice Committee, at 412-596-0066 or 724-327-2767,

FB Page:

Online petition:”



12. EPA Backs Away From Science On Fracking Again and           Again

                    Corporate Overreach

               “Nearly everywhere EPA begins investigating the dangers in the gaspatch, they later shy away.


EPA recently turned over their investigation of water contamination from fracking in Pavillion, WY to the polluters themselves, EnCana. EPA also backed away from the people of Dimock, PA. And they recently announced their long awaited study on fracking’s effects on water resources would take an additional two years.

               Even simple things like their Guidance for the use of diesel fuels in hydraulic fracturing keeps gathering dust sitting on a shelf somewhere in the bowels of the government bureaucracy.    

               The oil and gas industry calls these investigations EPA overreach. What’s really happening here is corporate overreach.

               A brewing culture war fought by oil and gas industry lobbyists and their allies has subdued any attempts by the federal government to stick up for the people caught in the fracking industry’s crosshairs.

               EPA’s core mission is to protect our environment. The House Majority attacks the agency for doing its job, while the EPA continues to back down to political pressure. Even with a pro-fracking Administration, EPA needs to stand firm. They understand flammable water, induced seismicity, and health effects justifies precaution. And nothing justifies this broad EPA retreat.

               Staying above the political fray and maintaining some measure of objective scientific credibility demands that the EPA follow through on what they started. It is time to re-open their investigation in Parker County.”

Read the ProPublica article:


13. Ousted Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon Launching           Ohio Land Grab

               Aubrey McClendon's penchant for "land grab" as a business model made the  recently-ousted Chesapeake Energy CEO infamous - and he's at it again for his new start-up "fracking" company in Ohio's Utica Shale basin.

               Under Securities and Exchange Commission investigation for sketchy business practices, McClendon departed Chesapeake with a severance package including $35 million, access to the company's private jets through 2016 and a 2.5% return on every well Chesapeake fracks through June 2014.

               Since then, he launched three new start-ups: McClendon Energy Partners, American Energy Partners and Arcadia Capital LLC.

               American Energy Partners' headquarters are just half a mile down the road from Chesapeake's, the number two U.S. producer of shale gas behind ExxonMobil. Some of those in McClendon's Chesapeake inner circle - those who helped run the potentially illegal internal hedge fund named AKM Operations (McClendon's initials) - have left Chesapeake and joined him at his new ventures.”


14. How Oil and Gas Drillers Avoid Paying Royalties

               by Abrahm Lustgarten,   ProPublica


               “It seemed promising. Two wells drilled on Don Feusner’s lease hit tens of millions of cubic feet of natural gas. Last December, he received a check for $8,506 for a month's share of the gas.

               Then one day in April, Feusner ripped open his royalty envelope to find that while his wells were still producing the same amount of gas, the gusher of cash had slowed to $1,690.

               Chesapeake Energy, the company that drilled his wells, was withholding almost 90 percent of Feusner's share of the income to cover unspecified "gathering" expenses and it wasn't explaining why.

               In 1982, in a landmark effort to keep people from being fleeced by the oil industry, the federal government passed a law establishing that royalty payments to landowners would be no less than 12.5 percent of the oil and gas sales from their leases.

               Manipulation of costs and other data by oil companies is keeping billions of dollars in royalties out of the hands of private and government landholders, an investigation by ProPublica has found.

               An analysis of lease agreements, government documents and thousands of pages of court records shows that such underpayments are widespread. Thousands of landowners like Feusner are receiving far less than they expected based on the sales value of gas or oil produced on their property. In some cases, they are being paid virtually nothing at all.

               In many cases, lawyers and auditors who specialize in production accounting tell ProPublica energy companies are using complex accounting and business arrangements to skim profits off the sale of resources and increase the expenses charged to landowners.

               Deducting expenses is itself controversial and debated as unfair among landowners, but it is allowable under many leases, some of which were signed without landowners fully understanding their implications.

               But some companies deduct expenses for transporting and processing natural gas, even when leases contain clauses explicitly prohibiting such deductions. In other cases, according to court files and documents obtained by ProPublica, they withhold money without explanation for other, unauthorized expenses, and without telling landowners that the money is being withheld.

                              In Pennsylvania, however, courts have set few precedents for how leases should be read and substantial hurdles stand in the way of landowners interested in bringing cases.

               Pennsylvania attorneys say many of their clients' leases do not allow landowners to audit gas companies to verify their accounting. Even landowners allowed to conduct such audits could have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to do so.

               When audits turn up discrepancies, attorneys say, many Pennsylvania leases require landowners to submit to arbitration - another exhaustive process that can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

                              "They just wait to see who challenges them, they keep what they keep, they give up what they lose," said Root, the NARO, National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) chapter president. "It may just be part of their business decision to do it this way."

For the article:


15. ALEC Attacks Renewable Energy

               “Having failed completely in its attempt to repeal state renewable electricity standards (RES) during the spring 2013 legislative season, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is shifting gears. Their new strategy is more nuanced, but the goal remains the same: support their fossil fuel cronies by rolling back renewable energy policies. Fortunately, this latest scheme is likely doomed to fail as well.

               This week, ALEC will host its annual meeting in Chicago, during which the group—who provides powerful corporations with behind-closed-doors access to legislators for the purpose of drafting ‘model legislation’ that serves their interests—will discuss the next phase of its ongoing effort to dismantle state renewable energy policies across the country. But first, ALEC leaders will likely have to explain their failures to their fossil fuel industry funders, including Koch Industries, Exxon-Mobil and Peabody Energy.

               Just last year, ALEC made it very public that repealing state RES policies would be a legislative priority in 2013, doubling down on its recent efforts to roll back these standards. ALEC adopted model legislation, written by climate skeptics at the Heartland Institute and innocuously dubbed the “Electricity Freedom Act”, which had the sole purpose of repealing state RES policies. Along with the Heartland Institute and a host of fossil fuel-funded cohorts, ALEC launched a disinformation campaign targeting several state RES policies, including high-profile attacks in Kansas and North Carolina.

The good news is that ALEC’s efforts completely failed: not a single state RES was repealed. Instead, 14 new pro-renewable energy bills became law nationwide, including stronger RES targets in Colorado, Minnesota, and Nevada.”

From Union of Concerned Scientists



Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s GroupMission Statement
      To raise the public’s general awareness and understanding of the impacts of Marcellus drilling on the natural environment, health, and long-term economies of local communities.
Officers: President-Jan Milburn
                 Treasurer-Wanda Guthrie
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