Friday, September 13, 2013

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates       September 12, 2013
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Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowicz, Ron Gulla, April Jackman, Marian Smyzd, MOB group from Butler, Bob Donnan


Take Action!!

***Stop NPR from Accepting Natural Gas Industry $

 (From Move on)

Petition Background

               NPR receives underwriting funds from the American Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA). In exchange, NPR airs misleading ads promoting further development of natural gas, which must now be mined by the environmentally damaging extreme extraction process,  “fracking”. This path would commit the US to decades more of increasing dependence on fossil fuels. NPR refuses to disclose its policy on how it selects sponsors from which to accept funding. (For a detailed account of my two-year unsuccessful attempt to get through NPR’s corporate wall of secrecy surrounding its underwriting practices go to

NPR (National Public Radio) should stop accepting funds and airing underwriting announcements from the American Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA). NPR must be transparent and accountable with its sponsorship practices. 


*** Stop Gag Orders On Children    Soon after  fracking operations started near the Hallowich family farm in Mount Pleasant the family started experiencing health problems like nosebleeds, sore throats, and unexplained headaches. They were forced to abandon their home and to sue the gas companies, eventually reaching a settlement that includes a standard gag order.

               But in an unprecedented move, the gas companies insisted the gag order extend to the Hallowiches’ children, age 7 and 10 years old at the time, legally barring them from talking about what happened to them -- and fracking -- forever.

               Stop silencing children. Take immediate legal action to remove the Hallowich children from the gag order placed on their family, and ensure your company does not include children in any future gag orders related to fracking.

               The Hallowich children suffered unexplained illnesses and were forced to move from their childhood home. They will be processing these traumatic experiences for the rest of their lives. Children should not be forced by fossil fuel corporations to remain silent about issues that affect their health and well being.

                                             Will you join me and add your name to my petition telling Range Resources, Mark West Energy Partners, and Williams Gas to legally remove the children from the gag order — and commit to never go after kids again?

Thank you for your support.   Corinne Ball


*** Take Action on Endangered Species (Sierra Club)

               Just when you thought the special interests couldn't find another way to eliminate environmental protection in Pennsylvania, "there they go again......" This time they are going after the protectors of Pennsylvania's threatened and endangered species, such as the osprey, the great egret, the bog turtle and the banded sunfish.

               The mining, gas drilling, and timber industries want to undermine the independence of the PA Fish and Boat Commission and the PA Game Commission to administer Pennsylvania's endangered species laws. 

               House Bill 1576 would send the Commissions' endangered species lists to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission -- an agency dominated by the legislature -- for additional scrutiny.

               These changes proposed in the bill blunt the effect of the Commissions' list of threatened and endangered species of fish and wildlife, allowing more mining, drilling and clear-cutting in Pennsylvania's lands. The Commissions would have to go through a very cumbersome regulatory review process. To make matters even worse, under the current versions of the bills the agencies would only be allowed to protect fish and wildlife already listed by the federal government.

               At the same time, permit applications for mining, oil and gas drilling, and timbering would be approved, without any on-the-ground check for their impacts on the PA endangered species.

               This week, Sierra Club's Conservation Chair Tom Au testified before a Joint House Committees hearing urging opposition to HB 1576. He pointed out that the agencies' scientists are better judges of the threats to wildlife and aquatic life. He explained that the agencies make decisions proposals for protecting rare, threatened, or endangered species in an open, transparent manner. The agencies publish the scientific data collected, have it reviewed by other scientists, publish proposed lists and protection plans, accept public comment, and hold public hearings. It is hard to find fault with this deliberative process.


Don't let the mining, drilling and timber industries drive our precious wildlife, fish and plants into extinction in Pennsylvania!

Thanks,  Jeff Schmidt, Director,   Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter



***Sick of Dirty Fossil Fuels?   Consider Ethical Electric

From Sierra Club

“Would you rather power your home with dirty fossil fuels or clean wind power?

Now you have a choice: Ethical Electric.

               The Sierra Club has partnered with Ethical Electric because they use only 100% renewable energy and they stand with the Sierra Club fighting for clean air, clean water, and protecting the environment.

               Ethical Electric recently started taking customers in Pennsylvania, and we’re encouraging people like you to make the switch to clean energy now!

               Ethical Electric buys wind power from local sources and provides it to your utility who then delivers it to you.   You’ll take thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds of climate-changing pollutants out of the atmosphere every year that you power your home with Ethical Electric.

And, since Ethical Electric obtains power from local wind farms, you’re helping America shift to clean alternatives every time you pay your electric bill.

               Switching to Ethical Electric is fast and easy. There’s no home visit. You get the same bill, same service on the same power lines. The only thing that changes for you is that your utility will be required to use local, clean electricity from our new Sierra Club partner, Ethical Electric.

               Enrolling with Ethical Electric takes only a few minutes online through Ethical Electric’s website. Or call 1-888-700-6547 to get started.

Make your choice for clean energy and switch to Ethical Electric today.

Sincerely,  Michael Brune,  Sierra Club Executive Director

P.S. The more of us that switch to Ethical Electric, the more demand there will be for clean, local power. Choosing an Ethical Electric plan is fast and easy. Make the switch today!



***Volunteers Needed For  Mother Earth Fair at Seven           Springs

  Sept 20 -22, Friday through Sunday.   Can you donate an hour or two to table with us?   Kathryn has badges for workers to enter the fair. Let me know if there is a time you can volunteer.  Help is greatly appreciated. jan

Mother Earth News Fair

Dates: Sept. 20-22, 2013

Time: All day (9:00 AM to 7:00 PM)

Location: Seven Springs Resort, Champion, PA


***WMCG Steering Committee Meeting  Second Tuesday each month. All are invited. 7:30 PM at Mike and Cindy’s, Greensburg.   Email jan for directions.


*** The Great Ohio River Relay - September 14    Pittsburgh to Cairo, IL    Kicks off from Mr. Rogers' statue, North Shore, Pittsburgh. Participants will walk, run, bike, rollerblade, and paddle the length of the Ohio River to attract national attention to the environmental issue of fracking, and in particular, to the proposed barging of toxic and radioactive fracking wastewater on the Ohio River, and other waterways in our country.

Kick Off Rally--  Saturday, September 14,  12 Noon,     Point State Park


*** Protect Our Parks - South Park Fairgrounds September 21

Outreach/education during Community Day


**Webinar with Allison Insley  --proposed Tenaska Station  Sept 25, 7:00 pm

Details to follow.


***Facing the Challenges-- Duquesne University-- Nov 25, 26- Researchers present on : Air and water, Animal and Human Health, Geological, Biological investigations.


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


Frack Links

*** Shale Truth --On Wednesday, September 11th, a new segment of the Shale Truth interview series premieres, in which Dr. Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University says the gas industry has changed communities, and that many people who once lived in rural or suburban areas now find themselves living in industrial zones.

               In the previous two segments with Dr. Ingraffea we heard him discuss  shale gas drilling and the unique dangers it poses to communities and their drinking water.  How the gas and oil industry will leave Pennsylvania a polluted landscape after it finishes tapping the Marcellus formation.

               A new Shale Truth segment  can be seen on The Delaware Riverkeeper Network's YouTube channel every Wednesday at


***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. 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.


 ***Preview - Glass Half Empty: An American Water War


Frack News

All articles are excerpted. Please use the links to read the full article.


1. Westmoreland County Landowners Fight Pipeline and          Eminent Domain


               “A controversial pipeline project could meet its first legal opposition next week in Westmoreland County, where a lawyer for two families said Tuesday he's going to fight ongoing attempts to take the land by force. 

Sunoco Logistics Partners LP took action in Common Pleas Court last week to force three families to give up rights of way in Hempfield, Penn and South Huntingdon townships. The Philadelphia company wants to pipe Marcellus shale gas to Europe-bound ships. To do so, it's trying to use eminent domain to gather land for a link between a Washington County gas-processing plant and a Salem pipeline hub.

               Latrobe attorney Daniel J. Hewitt — who represents Michael and Laurie Zima of Hempfield and Timothy and Jennifer Klobucar of Penn Township — said he plans to object to those claims during a motions hearing Sept. 13 before Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. The Hempfield landowners also have a lawyer. Sunoco Logistics had filed only one previous eminent domain claim — for land near a Penn Township senior home — which ended uncontested Aug. 2.

               “I don't want to think my property is going to be the property for all the pipelines that come through,” said Sandra Busch-Cup, who already has two other gas transmission pipelines on her Harmony Road property in Hempfield. “I just sometimes feel like it's useless to try to fight them. With this eminent domain, there's really nothing you can do.”

Busch-Cup declined to explain her exact plans. Hewitt declined to give details about his argument, saying he was still researching.

                              “Sunoco Logistics has taken significant measures to lessen the impact of the Mariner East project on residential areas,” said Shields. “Our initial route in Westmoreland County was modified significantly to follow the right-of-way of an existing Dominion pipeline. Our preference is to work with the landowners on an individual basis so that we can understand their concerns and address issues related to their particular property, offering them fair market value or above for the needed easements.”

               The Tribune-Review previously reported the company has a strong eminent domain claim because of where the Mariner East project ends. After snaking for nearly 300 miles within Pennsylvania, the last half-mile of the pipeline edges into Delaware. Any inch of a pipeline that crosses a state border qualifies as interstate commerce, giving the company eminent domain power under state law, legal experts told the Trib.”

Read more:


More on The Pipeline

               “The energy company planning to install a pipeline to transport propane and ethane from a natural gas processing plant in Washington County to its pipeline north of Delmont wants to hold public meetings in Sewickley and Penn townships this fall to discuss the project's local impact, officials said.

               The proposed route through Sewickley Township would run near Lowber, between Cowansburg and Hutchinson, south of Herminie and south of Edna No. 2.                The proposed pipeline would connect the MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources natural gas processing plant in Houston, with Sunoco Logistics' terminal in Salem Township, where it has a pipeline connection with Sunoco's refinery in Marcus Hook. It would enter Westmoreland County in Rostraver Township and cross the Youghiogheny River near Collinsburg. The line would run through sections of South Huntingdon, Sewickley, Hempfield, Jeannette, Penn Township and Murrysville. It will end at Sunoco Logistics's terminal in Salem Township, where it has a pipeline that connects with Sunoco Inc.'s refinery in Marcus Hook, south of Philadelphia.

               The 50-mile pipeline would cross 68 streams in Westmoreland; 45 in Washington; and 31 in Allegheny counties, according to the application Sunoco Logistics submitted to the Westmoreland Conservation District on Aug. 2 for an erosion and sediment control general permit for earth disturbances. It will disturb 459 acres in three counties, according to documents submitted to the conservation district.

               Sunoco plans to bore a hole for the pipe underneath the streams and roadways, said Chris Droste, senior erosion control specialist. The pipe would be placed four to five feet underneath the streams, Droste said.

               The conservation district has 43 days to review the plans, but that can be extended when responses are needed to questions or comments on the plans, said Kathleen A. Fritz, erosion and sedimentation program administrative assistant.

               “This is a very different and complex plan,” Fritz said.

               The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Aug. 28 approved a plan to convert a pipeline that currently carries motor fuel from the Philadelphia area to Pittsburgh, into a line that will carry ethane and propane eastward to Marcus Hook. It then will be loaded onto ships for export.”

 Read more:


2. De Pasquale Fulfills Campaign Promise

          Audit May Show Problem With Water

               “In an interview with the Scranton Times-Tribune’s editorial board , Eugene DePasquale –Dem. suggested that there may hbe flaws with how the DEP is handling water pollution issues related to natural gas drilling.


“The only thing I could say is, it’s a good thing we’re doing the audit,” he told the Times-Tribune without offering further details about the findings.

               Eric Shirk, a spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett, said the administration does not anticipate the finding of major problems ….He said the department doubled the number of inspections of oil and gas sites since last year.

                              The full audit is expected in January 2014 and will be the fulfillment of one of DePasquale’s campaign promises.

               DePasquale also told the Pittsburgh Times-Tribune that he’s planning to audit how revenue from the impact fees charged to every operating Marcellus Shale well in Pennsylvania is being spent. StateImpact Pennsylvania has previously reported that local governments in some of the state’s busiest drilling counties failed to disclose how they spent impact fee funds because of confusion about how to file the necessary paperwork.”


Auditor General’s Investigation of DEP Important for Southwest PA-

by Rep Jesse White, Dem.

Remember Suite Codes?

               “It’s great to say we should all work together on every issue all the time, but there comes a point when you have to realize the other side has no intention of doing so under any circumstances whatsoever.

                              Eugene Depasquale and I were both elected to the State House in 2006 and our offices were across the hall from one another in the Capitol for several years. I believe Eugene is an honest public servant and a good person, and I consider him a friend. I have no doubt that his audit of DEP will be objective and accurate, even though the Corbett administration has recently slashed budgets for investigators, limiting manpower and resources.


To refresh everyone’s memory, the basis of the audit is the DEP’s use of “Suite Codes” to limit the amount of information given to people about what DEP found in their water. This scheme was uncovered through the sworn testimony of DEP lab chief Taru Upadhyay in a deposition taken last year.

Based on that testimony, here’s what was apparently happening. You have concerns about your water because you live near drilling operations, so you call DEP to check it out. The DEP inspector comes to your house, takes a sample, marks it with a “Suite Code” and sends it off to the lab for testing. The lab tests over thirty different chemicals and substances as required by federal law, the results of which are stored in the DEP lab computer. So far so good, right?


But when it’s time to generate the report based on the test results, that “Suite Code” tells the computer to only give back results for a handful of the things DEP tested for, not all of them. So the DEP inspector gets a report out of the computer that is purposely incomplete, but you don’t know that because you’d have no way to know.

               And when the inspector shows up with that report, they can be technically correct when they say, “According to the report I received from the lab, there is no evidence of any contamination.” But what they know, and you don’t, is that they purposely told the computer to leave out results of dozens of chemicals known to be found in frac water and flowback water. Many of them are known or suspected carcinogens, which means they can cause cancer. The results are sitting in the DEP computers, but you had no way of knowing you got less than the complete results.

               The DEP has not denied this practice, but they haven’t explained it either. We also learned that they developed a “Suite Code” specifically designed to provide proper results for drilling-related water quality concerns; unfortunately (but not surprisingly) it has never been used by DEP. Furthermore, you would think the Marcellus Shale Coalition would be with us on this. If they don’t believe drilling operations impact the water, wouldn’t they want all the facts out there to help prove their point? The facts should be allowed to speak for themselves, plain and simple.

 I have provided the Auditor General and his staff information about many problems occurring here in the 46th District, and will continue to do what I can to shed light on these inexcusable practices by the DEP.

               People are entitled to the truth about what is in water they drink. Is that a debate we even need to be having? Aren’t some things so obvious they should go without saying? What possible reason is there for the DEP, under the direction of Governor Corbett, to withhold information from residents about something this important?

               The DEP is clearly taking their marching orders from the Corbett Administration to stonewall anyone who asks the tough questions. It’s great to say we should all work together on every issue all the time, but there comes a point when you have to realize the other side has no intention of doing so under any circumstances whatsoever. On an issue as important as letting parents and grandparents know whether their drinking water could put their children or grandchildren at risk of cancer, I decided that standing up for what’s right and demanding accountability is more important than pandering for the sake of politics.”


3. Drilling Near Butler School


“September 2, 2013 an XTO well located at Summit Elementary School in the Butler School District began flaring.

               The Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, in California has estimated that the following air pollutants may be released from natural gas flares: benzene, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, including naphthalene), acetaldehyde, acrolein, propylene, toluene, xylenes, ethyl benzene and hexane. Researchers in Canada have measured more than 60 air pollutants downwind of natural gas flares.  Deadly hydrogen sulfide and radon-226 has also been shown to exist in shale gas.  A full list of sources of oil and gas air pollution can be found on the Earthworks website.


The wellhead is located approximately 500 ft. from the Summit Elementary School sports fields and 900 ft. from the building itself.  According to an eye-witness, on Wednesday Sept 4, the wind was blowing in the direction of the school and a group of children were on the sports field playing soccer.  A parent contacted the superintendent, Dr. Michael Strutt.  According to the parent, Dr. Strutt  was surprised and alarmed by the situation.  Dr. Strutt told the parent that he would  order the building principal to suspend all outdoor activities while the flaring was taking place..  Later that day, two classes were sighted outside.

               The Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (SWPA-EHP) issued an alert  to the school community based on their research surrounding the health impacts of air pollution on the public.  They report, “People near drill sites that are active have reported respiratory problems (particularly for those with asthma), dizziness, headaches, nausea and other gastro-intestinal problems.  Skin conditions are also frequently reported.”

               Are these the type of experiments that we want taking place where we educate and recreate with our children?  The oil and gas industry has spent billions in campaign contributions and lobbying efforts to convince officials to allow them to drill what is ours for their profit.  It is time that we stand up and remind them that This land is my land.”




4. Colorado Grandparents tell Governor To Protect           Grandchildren From Fracking


“Concerned grandparents from across Colorado delivered a letter to tell Gov. Hickenlooper (Dem-CO) and other governors from across the country to say no to fracking and yes to a renewable energy future in celebration of National Grandparents’ Day.

               These grandparents voiced their concerns over the risks fracking, drilling and related activities pose to all Coloradans health, air, water, land, property values and their special concerns for their grandchildren and great-grandchild. They also demanded that Gov. Hickenlooper end his continued use of lawsuits to bully the people of Colorado to accept fracking next to their homes and schools.

               “Yesterday I celebrated National Grandparents’ Day with my two grandchildren in Lafayette,” said Merrily Mazza, a retired corporate executive and current member of East Boulder County United. “Today, I’m here to tell Governor Hickenlooper to stop trying to force fracking next to our homes and schools with lawsuits. My grandchildren deserve a safe, healthy future in Colorado.”


5. Attorney General Kane Files Charges Against Exxon-

          Illegal Discharge

               “Attorney General Kathleen Kane-Dem, filed criminal charges against a Pennsylvania subsidiary of ExxonMobil for illegally discharging more than 50,000 gallons of toxic wastewater from a Marcellus Shale gas well site in Penn Township, Lycoming County.

               XTO Energy Inc., of Indiana, Pa., was charged after evidence and testimony was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges be filed, according to a news release from Kane's office.

               XTO issued a news release shortly after Kane, indicating it would challenge the charges because they were "unwarranted and legally baseless because neither XTO nor any of its employees intentionally, recklessly or negligently discharged produced water on the site."

               According to the attorney general, the grand jury found that XTO hired a company to recycle wastewater at its Marquardt site in Lycoming County from Nov. 4, 2010, through Nov. 11, 2010. After that one-week period, XTO directed the company to remove its processing equipment from the site and transport it to another XTO well site in West Virginia. However, XTO allegedly continued to transport and store gas well wastewater at the Marquardt site despite not having the proper equipment on site to safely store or process it.


               The illegal discharge of gas well wastewater was discovered on Nov. 16, 2010, when an inspector with the DEP made an unannounced visit to the Marquardt site, according to the attorney general.

               According to the grand jury, during that visit the DEP inspector discovered that a rear discharge valve on a storage tank was opened and a drain plug removed, causing gas well wastewater to flow out of the storage tank onto the ground. There also was evidence of prior wastewater discharges from other storage tanks at the Marquardt site.

               The grand jury found that between Nov. 12, 2010, and Nov. 16, 2010, more than 93,000 gallons of wastewater were transported to and stored at the Marquardt site, of which approximately 57,000 gallons were unaccounted for following the spill, according to the news release.

               Kane said the toxic wastewater flowed into and polluted an unnamed tributary of Sugar Run. As a result of the spill, DEP required more than 3,000 tons of contaminated soil to be excavated and removed from the Marquardt site

               XTO allegedly failed to place a spill containment system under any of the storage tanks at the Marquardt site; failed to lock or otherwise secure any of the storage tanks on site; and failed to utilize any security measures to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing the Marquardt site.

               XTO Energy Inc. is charged with five counts of unlawful conduct under the Clean Streams Law and three counts of unlawful conduct under the Solid Waste Management Act.

               The XTO news release said the company "has already agreed with federal authorities on reasonable civil penalties and preventative steps to avoid future accidents of this type. Without admission of liability, on July 18, 2013, a consent decree regarding the discharge was signed between XTO and the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Department of Justice conducted a full investigation for more than a year and concluded that criminal charges were not warranted. An investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is ongoing."


6. Republicans in House Want To Force Dept. of Interior To           Not Regulate Fracking


“Lawmakers in the House will focus in coming weeks on a measure to combat new regulations on hydraulic fracturing. In a memo to Republican lawmakers, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said that the chamber will take up a bill that would force the Interior Department to cede regulation of the controversial energy development method to states that have already developed their own rules.

               The Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act, introduced by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), would block the federal government’s attempt to impose new rules on the process. The bill passed through the Natural Resources Committee along mostly partly lines in July. Republicans have worried that the Interior Department rules, which are still in draft form, would impose unnecessary requirements on the oil-and-gas industry and restrict new energy development, which would lead to higher prices.”




H.R. 2728 excerpt:
 “SEC. 44.  State authority for hydraulic fracturing regulation.
 “(a) In general.—The Department of the Interior shall not enforce any Federal regulation, guidance, or permit requirement regarding hydraulic fracturing, or any component of that process, relating to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities on or under any land in any State that has regulations, guidance, or permit requirements for that activity.
“(b) State authority.—The Department of the Interior shall recognize and defer to State regulations, permitting, and guidance, for all activities related to hydraulic fracturing, or any component of that process, relating to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities on Federal land regardless of whether those rules are duplicative, more or less restrictive, shall have different requirements, or do not meet Federal guidelines.


7. Allegheny County Councilwoman Danko Proposes 3-year           Hold On Gas Drilling in Parks

               Saying "the parks are different," an Allegheny County councilwoman is calling for a three-year hold on drilling for natural gas beneath county parkland, potentially halting plans to produce gas from Deer Lakes Park. In an ordinance scheduled to debut at Tuesday's council meeting, Barbara Daly Danko, D-Regent Square, and her co-sponsor, John Palmiere, D-Baldwin Township, propose a stop on drilling in parks until 2017, saying unresolved legal issues and untested environmental regulations have made them wary.

               The ordinance will likely be assigned to a committee and won't be voted on until at least Sept. 24. Ms. Danko is prepared for a fight on council, where she'll need eight votes to pass her resolution. It would then face a promised veto from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, which would require 10 votes to override.”


8. Chesapeake Energy Abandons 13,000 Acres Of Gas   Leases In New York State-- Ban succeeds


“Chesapeake Energy Corp has agreed to release more than 13,000 acres of land leased for oil and gas drilling in New York state as a ban on fracking extends into its sixth year. The Oklahoma-based company agreed to terminate the leases in Tioga and Broome counties in the southern portion of the state, ending a two-year legal battle with over 200 landowners. Chesapeake had been appealing a federal court ruling in November that stated the company could not use a state ban on high fracking, as a reason to declare force majeure and extend leases beyond their expiry without offering landowners better terms.

               Some landowners, who signed their leases during the last 13 years before a U.S. drilling boom boosted land prices in gas-rich areas like New York, had been calling for a release from the leases to seek more lucrative deals from other energy firms.                Other landowners are now opposed to any drilling on their land altogether. Chesapeake's decision to now drop the leases is a sign of energy firms' growing frustration over operating in the Empire State, where most drilling has been on hold since 2008. It is also an indication of how the Oklahoma-based company is reining in spending after years of aggressive acreage buying left it with towering debt.”


9. Fracking Report Funded by Gas Industry

                              “The recently released study, America’s New Energy Future: The Unconventional Oil & Gas Revolution and the U.S. Economy, received widespread media attention. The report, conducted by consulting group IHS CERA, was commissioned by multiple fossil fuel organizations that stand to benefit from growth in the oil and gas industry.

               According to the report, the increase in unconventional oil and natural gas extraction has added an average of $1,200 in discretionary income to each U.S. household in 2012, and now supports 1.2 million jobs—projected to increase to 3.3 million by 2020. These figures are much larger than the findings of many previous economic studies.

               However, multiple major news outlets, including Reuters, CNBC,, and the Los Angeles Times, covered the new report with no mention of its financial ties to the industry. The research was monetarily supported by America’s Natural Gas Alliance, the American Petroleum Institute, the American Chemistry Council, the Natural Gas Supply Association and others who stand to gain economically from an unregulated increase in fracking.

               Bloomberg, which did disclose the report’s industry ties, reported that the IHS report didn’t take potential environmental impacts from extracting unconventional oil and gas through drilling and fracking, such as groundwater contamination and strains on water resources, into account.”


10. Disinfection of Gas/Oil Wastewater Can Lead to Toxic           Byproducts



Wastewater treatment plants that process waters from oil and gas development were found to discharge elevated levels of toxic chemicals known as brominated disinfection byproducts, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

               Disinfection byproducts are created by chemical reactions when water is disinfected.  The brominated forms are among the most toxic. 

               Produced waters can originate from unconventional (e.g. hydraulic fracturing) and conventional oil and gas extractions. Management of produced waters includes a variety of methods, such as recycling, road spreading, deep-well injection, and processing by wastewater treatment plants.

               The study examined river water samples downstream from the discharges of publicly owned and commercial wastewater treatment plants that were processing produced waters with high levels of bromide. These samples were compared with water just upstream of the plants and with samples from wastewater treatment plants that did not process produced waters from oil and gas development.

               This is the first time it has been shown that these activities contribute DBPs to streams where the wastewaters are discharged.

               The water was examined for 29 different disinfection byproducts, including brominated and non-brominated disinfection byproducts. The brominated disinfection byproducts were detected more frequently and at much higher levels in river water impacted by disinfected produced waters than at other sites.

               The study is entitled "Discharges of produced waters from oil and gas extraction via wastewater treatment plants are sources of disinfection by-products to receiving streams," and is published in Science of the Total Environment. The study may be accessed online.”

To learn more about this study and other USGS Environmental Health research, please visit the USGS Environmental Health website or sign up for the USGS GeoHealth Newsletter.


Video of Dr. Casson at the Pitt Health Conference November 2012:





Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s GroupMission Statement
      To raise the public’s general awareness and understanding of the impacts of Marcellus drilling on the natural environment, health, and long-term economies of local communities.
Officers: President-Jan Milburn
                 Treasurer-Wanda Guthrie
                 Secretary-Ron Nordstrom
                 Facebook Coordinator-Elizabeth Nordstrom
                 Blogsite –April Jackman
                 Science Subcommittee-Dr. Cynthia Walter
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