Friday, September 27, 2013

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates       September 26, 2013
Giving Day Oct. 3rd!
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WMCG Thank You
               *Thank you to Allison Insley for conducting the Webinar regarding Health Effects from the proposed Tenaska Generating Facility in Ruffsdale, South Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County and to Matt Walker of Clean Air Council for coordinating the webinar.
               *Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, Gloria Forouzan, Amy Arrendas, and Elizabeth Donahue.


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 PA 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


***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.


1. Parker County, TX – The EPA began an investigation after a homeowner reported that his drinking water was bubbling like champagne. But after fracking company Range Resources threatened not to participate in another study in March 2012, the EPA set aside the "smoking gun" report connecting methane migration to fracking.   EPA halted 'fracking' case after gas company protested. USA Today, January 16, 2013.

2. Dimock, PA – The mid-Atlantic EPA began testing water in Dimock, PA after residents complained that their drinking water was contaminated from nearby fracking operations. But the federal EPA closed the investigation in July 2012 even after the staff members who had been testing the water warned of methane, manganese and arsenic contamination.  (Internal EPA report highlights disputes over fracking and well water. LA Times, July 27, 2013.)

3. Pavilion, WY – The EPA released a draft report in 2011 linking fracking to contamination of an underground aquifer. After drawing criticism from the oil and gas industry, the EPA handed the investigation over to the state of Wyoming in June 2013 to be completed with funding from EnCana, the drilling company charged with contaminating the water wells in the first place.  (EPA Drops Fracking Probe in Wyoming. Wall Street Journal, June 20, 2013.)



               The EPA abandoned citizens when they needed them most. This is no coincidence.

               Tell President Obama and the 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.

               We're up against a powerful industry, but Americans know how dangerous fracking is — and they're fighting back. Last month, along with our partners we delivered over 600,000 petitions to President Obama to ban fracking on federal lands. In the last two weeks, Los Angeles city council members introduced a fracking moratorium and Highland Park, New Jersey became the first town in the state to ban fracking. We're building a broad, powerful movement to fight back...and win.

               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”


***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!



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


***Youth Power Shift Needs Housing

“Dear Pittsburgh,

This fall, the largest gathering of social change makers in 2013 will happen in Pittsburgh at Power Shift 2013, and we could really use your support. More specifically, support in housing participants. Youth leaders from across the country are counting on the Pittsburgh community to make their experience a welcoming and empowering memory.

On October 18th-21st, Power Shift 2013 will have over 10,000 young people converge at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. For the first time ever, Power Shift is being hosted outside of Washington, DC.

This year we are coming to Pittsburgh, a city at the crossroads of the fight for a clean and just energy future – at the center of building the green economy, yet also directly in the crosshairs of the coal and fracking industries.  At Power Shift we will not just tackle environmental issues, but also encompass other social movements from LGBTQ to student debt to food politics to fight systemic oppression. Here’s how you can help:

Open your home.

Community is a huge focus at Power Shift and we want to emphasize the importance of returning the empowerment attendees feel afterwards to contribute to their communities. Pittsburgh’s collective power fighting for clean energy is the same momentum we want our attendees to push when they return home.

A housing board is set up for folks in the Pittsburgh community who are able and willing to open their homes to Power Shift 2013 participants. A $10 discount code is now available for Pittsburgh locals registering to attend Power Shift. Please push this housing board link out to your network and connections:

Community Spaces, Religious Institutions, etc.

Anybody with connections to places with available floor space to house a larger group of people over the weekend should get in touch with Jenna Grey Eagle our coordinator for housing. We realize that requesting this type of space over night can lead to extra work, so the option of requiring a fee is open. Any available space would be posted on our website with information on what supplies students should bring (sleeping bag, towels, etc.), what rules they should abide by, payment options, and any other vital information to be included. 

If you are aware of other types of housing opportunities or have connections within your community that can help out, please contact Jenna at or <605-553-8327>

Be a part in helping Shift the Power! We can’t do this without you!


*** Pittsburgh Environment and Health Conference-Oct 25

               Everyday, we read or hear about how we need to protect our environment. What does that really mean? What does this have to do with YOU? What does it mean to be green?

               At the Pittsburgh Environment & Health Conference we will answer these questions as we talk about the links between the environment and your health. They don't just affect you; they affect your entire community.


The conference includes lunch, and you will leave with information that can help you live a greener, healthier life. With small changes, you can help your kids and their kids live healthier.

 Featuring Keynote Speakers:

Nancy Alderman - Environment and Human Health, Inc.

Cecil Corbin-Mark - WE ACT for Environmental Justice

Lois Gibbs - Center for Health, Environment and Justice

Edward Humes - Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist & Author

Richard Louv - Children and Nature Network

David Orr - Environmental Studies Program, Oberlin College

Ted Schettler, MD - Science and Environmental Health Network


During afternoon workshops you will hear from and interact with local experts who will address a series of environmental and health-related topics and describe the work that is taking place right in our communities.

  Space is limited! Click here to register today!

 Where & When

David Lawrence Convention Center

1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd.

Pittsburgh, PA 15222

October 25, 2013

8:30 am - 4:30 pm


*** 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

***View From the pads with Lee McCaslin- Video


*** Shale Truth Series -- 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


***Pa has only seen tip of  Fracking Iceberg-Dr Ingraffea


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


***List of the Harmed--There are now over 1600 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




1.   Air study


Air pollutant emissions from the development, production and processing of Marcellus Shale natural gas

 Anirban A. Roy, Peter J. Adams and Allen L. Robinson Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies Carnegie Mellon University


               “The Marcellus Shale is one of the largest natural gas reserves in the United States; it has recently been the focus of intense drilling and leasing activity. This work describes an air emissions inventory for the development, production and processing of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region for 2009 and 2020. It includes estimates of the emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and primary fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from major activities such as drilling, hydraulic fracturing, compressor stations and completion venting. Emissions were estimated for 2009 and projected to 2020, accounting for the effects of existing and potential additional regulations.

               In 2020, Marcellus activities are predicted to contribute 6-20% (95% confidence interval) of the NOx emissions in the Marcellus region, with an average contribution of 12% (100 tons/day). In 2020, the predicted contribution of Marcellus activities to the regional anthropogenic VOC emissions ranged between 6 and 31% (95% confidence interval) with an average contribution of 12% (94 tons/day) . These estimates account for the implementation of recently promulgated regulations such as the Tier 4 off-road diesel engine regulation and the USEPA Oil and Gas Rule. These regulations significantly reduce the Marcellus VOC and NOx emissions, but there are significant opportunities for further reduction in Marcellus NOx emissions using existing technologies.

               Gas development, production and processing activities can be a significant source of air pollution (Archuleta, 2009; Katzenstein et al., 2003). In a large basin such as the Marcellus formation, these activities involve a large number of relatively small sources that are widely distributed in space. For example, drill rigs and hydraulic fracturing (“fracing”) pumps powered by off-road heavy-duty diesel engines emit oxides of nitrogen (NOx), fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (, Diesel-powered trucks used to bring materials to and from the well site emit the same suite of pollutants ( Completion venting performed to bring a well into production can be a significant source of VOCs (Bar-Ilan et al., 2008; Grant et al., 2009, Armendariz, 2009). Natural-gas-fired compressors used to maintain gas pressure emit NOx and VOCs (Bar-Ilan et al., 2008; Grant et al., 2009). Speciation profiles like the USEPA’s SPECIATE database (USEPA, 2006) and natural gas source speciation profiles elsewhere (e.g.

               Hendler et al., 2009) indicate that VOCs emitted from these sources include alkanes (diesel engines, venting and fugitives), alkenes (diesel engines), aromatics (diesel engines) and aldehydes (diesel and natural gas fired engines). NOx and VOCs react in the presence of sunlight to produce ozone, which causes several health problems like asthma and decreased lung function (Bernard et al., 2001; Levy et al., 2001; Godish et al., 2004). The health effects of PM2.5 are well documented and include premature mortality (Dockery and Pope, 1994; Kaiser, 2005). A major component of PM2.5 emitted by diesel-powered engines is elemental carbon (EC), which may be an important driver for climate change (e.g. Bond et al., 2004).

               Previous studies indicate that the aggregate emissions from shale gas activities can be significant. For example, Armendariz (2009) estimated that the combined NOx and VOC emissions from natural gas sources exceeded on-road mobile sources in the Barnett Shale region. Furthermore, field and modeling studies have also shown that these emissions can have important impacts on local and regional air quality. Schnell et al. (2009) reported peak 1-hr ozone levels as high as 100 ppb in the Jonah Pinedale region in Wyoming, which is a hotspot for gas development and production. Elevated VOC levels were also found in large regions of Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, where there is significant gas production (Katzenstein et al., 2003; Zielinska et al., 2011; Archuleta, 2008). Cook et al. (2010) used a chemical transport model to predict that gas development in the Haynesville Shale could increase the maximum daily 8-hr average ozone levels by as much as 17 ppbv over parts of Louisiana and Texas. In order to protect public health and welfare, the USEPA has promulgated National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone and PM2.5 ( Many counties in the Marcellus region

currently violate these standards (, and Marcellus development may complicate these existing problems.

               The goal of this work is to develop an air emissions inventory for gas development, production and processing activities in the Marcellus Shale region. Emissions were estimated for a base year (2009) and then projected out to 2020 using well drilling and production projections from the literature.

Impacts of emissions on regional air quality will be considered in a future paper, but it should also be noted that there may be stronger impacts at the local level when gas development is nearby.”



The inventory predicts that Marcellus development will likely be an important source of regional NOx and VOC emissions. In 2020, Marcellus development may contribute 12% (5-20) of NOx and VOC emissions in the Marcellus region. The new Marcellus emissions may offset projected emissions reductions in other sectors (mobile and electrical generating units). Given the potential magnitude of NOx emissions in rural (NOx-limited) areas, Marcellus development could complicate ozone management in this region. Marcellus development is not predicted to contribute significantly to regional PM2.5 emissions. However, elemental carbon could be more of a concern, with Marcellus development predicted to contribute 14% (2%-36%) of the regional elemental carbon emissions.

To investigate benefits of existing and potential future controls, the 2020 analysis considered three future control levels: current, baseline, and tight controls. VOC emissions from the base and tight control scenarios were quite similar (~ a factor of 2), indicating a high level of control

An analysis was carried out to identify the major sources of uncertainty. Truck traffic (distance travelled) and drilling (engine on-time) were the key contributors to uncertainty in NOx emissions estimates. VOC emissions uncertainty was driven by volume of gas vented during completion. Because the major uncertainties in the inventory stem from activity data as well as emission factor measurements, these results suggest that improved data collection efforts could substantially constrain emissions estimates from natural gas development.

The analysis does not consider the potential air quality benefits of increased end-use of natural gas. For example, switching electricity generating from coal to natural gas could offset much of the increase in regional NOx emissions associated with gas development and production. The impacts of the emissions from Marcellus development on regional air quality will be presented in a forthcoming manuscript.”


2.  Report from Earthworks : Reckless Endangerment While Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale

By: Sharon Wilson, Lisa Sumi, Wilma Subra


Texas Case is Part of Emerging National Pattern: Regulators Actively Ignoring Evidence of Public Harm from Fracking Pollution.

                              “A new report released today, September 19th, provides an important window into a disturbing national pattern regarding the oversight of fracking-enabled oil and gas development: regulators, charged with protecting the public, are actively avoiding evidence that fracking is harming the public. The report focuses on Karnes County, TX in an attempt to illuminate a growing national pattern of absentee regulators.

               “This isn’t living anymore. It’s just existing, and wondering what you are going to breathe in next,” said impacted Eagle Ford Shale resident Mike Cerny in his interview with the report author.”


3.   Report:   U.S. Geological Survey Documenting Land           Disturbance From Natural Gas Drilling

               The United States Geological Survey (USGS) published a pair of reports today, which are part of larger series aimed at documenting and quantifying the landscape disturbance from Pennsylvania’s natural gas drilling industry. The USGS-funded project has been underway for a little over two years and has documented a reduction of Pennsylvania’s interior forests–  habitats for sensitive plant and animal species. So far, the federal government has examined 14 Pennsylvania counties where drilling is occurring and plans to publish several more reports before the end of the year.

                Milheim says the biggest change they’ve documented is the reduction of interior forests. Forest fragmentation can occur with the development of drilling infrastructure like roads and pipelines. “While [sites are] under development, there’s a lot of equipment,” she says, “It can change the forest. Some species do not survive well in disturbed areas and will leave the area if there is development.”

Link to PDF for Landscape Consequences in Westmoreland County:    Landscape Consequences of Natural Gas Extraction in Somerset and Westmoreland Counties, Pennsylvania, 2004–2010

By L.E. Milheim, E.T. Slonecker, C.M. Roig-Silva, and A.R. Malizia


4.  7,500 Songbirds Killed At Gas Plant In Saint John,           Canada


About 7,500 songbirds, possibly including some endangered species, were killed while flying over a gas plant in Saint John late last week, officials have confirmed. It appears the migrating birds flew into the gas flare at Canaport LNG between Friday night and Saturday morning, said Fraser Forsythe, the company's health, safety, security and environmental manager.

               The birds were drawn to the flame like moths, an extremely unusual event, according to Don McAlpine, the head of zoology at the New Brunswick Museum. "They would circle in around that and of course with a large flame like that and high temperatures, they wouldn't need to get terribly close to become singed or burned." The weather conditions were foggy and overcast at the time, which may have contributed to the incident, said McAlpine. The flare tower at the Canaport liquefied natural gas receiving and regasification terminal is about 30 metres tall and the size of the flame varies, depending on weather conditions. It is typically higher amid low-pressure systems.



5.    Report:   Social Costs of Fracking on Rural America


By Sharon Kelly

               “A new report by Food and Water Watch (FWW) examines the social impacts of fracking; comparing traffic, crime and sexually transmitted infections in rural Pennsylvania counties. Using a decade worth of county-level data, they compare the differences between counties with substantial fracking and without, and how these counties have changed over time, from before the boom until after it set in.

“Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom has brought thousands of new gas wells, a number of transient workers and a host of social problems,” the report says. “This study is the first detailed, long-term analysis of the social costs of fracking borne by rural Pennsylvania communities.”


               FWW documented sharp differences in traffic accident rates, petty crimes and sexually transmitted infections. According to the report:

*Fracking is associated with more heavy-truck crashes: Heavy-truck crashes rose 7.2 percent in heavily fracked rural Pennsylvania counties (with at least one well for every 15 square miles) but fell 12.4 percent in unfracked rural counties after fracking began in 2005.

*Fracking is associated with more social disorder arrests: Disorderly conduct arrests increased by 17.1 percent in heavily fracked rural counties, compared to 12.7 percent in unfracked rural counties.

*Fracking is associated with more cases of sexually transmitted infections: After fracking, the average increase in chlamydia and gonorrhea cases was 62 percent greater in heavily fracked rural counties than in unfracked rural counties.

               FWW researchers reviewed 10 years of annual, county-level data for heavy-truck accidents, disorderly conduct arrests and cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia, dividing the data into two periods: before fracking (ie 2000 to 2005) and after the boom set in (ie 2005 to 2010). For arrests and for sexually transmitted infections, the report primarily focused on the number of arrests or cases, but the researchers added that controlling for population differences “yields similar results.”


6.    PA Boosts Gas Industry By         Giving $2M for Fuel Stations

               Pennsylvania’s economic development team wants drivers to start filling up their cars with natural gas – and they’re willing to hand out taxpayer money to kickstart the trend. The Commonwealth Financing Authority awarded more than $2 million in grant money plus a $169,000 loan for five natural gas fueling stations at its Tuesday meeting.

               The goal is that incentivizing fueling stations will, in the long term, continue to grow the state’s Marcellus Shale-related job markets, said Steve Kratz, spokesman for the Department of Community and Economic Development.”


7.     PA College/University Faculty Oppose Fracking Of           University Lands

               By Wendy Lee

“My union--APSCUF (Associated Pennsylvania College and University Faculty), which represents the faculty of 14 state universities (3500 faculty and 120,000 students) passed by a hefty margin a union policy statement opposing SB 367--the Frack U. bill that would allow frack operations on state university lands and properties. While the policy is specifically tailored to PASSHE (PA State System of Higher Education) properties, it's broader intent is clear and uncompromising. Industrialized extraction is patently inconsistent with the intent and mission of higher education.. Here's the policy:

               The ad hoc committee, by majority, supports the position that PASSHE campuses are not appropriate locations for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), that given the environmental and health hazards of the fracking process, including all of its infrastructure and associated enterprises, its presence on PASSHE campuses is inconsistent and potentially deleterious to the PASSHE educational mission as well as to the health and welfare of PASSHE community members. A growing body of research is beginning to quantify and characterize the negative environmental, societal, economic, and ecological impacts on those close to such activities. Local impacts include but are not limited to gas migration, air pollution, and surface and near-surface water quality degradation as well as potential chronic impacts to air, water, landscapes, habitat, and ecosystems. Soeder (2012, Shale gas development in the United States) states, “Having one of these sites near a home, school or business can be distracting, inconvenient, annoying, and disruptive.”         Moreover, APSCUF opposes SB 367--the Indigenous Mineral Resources Development Act--as inconsistent with the PASSHE education mission for the same reasons and because it effectively pits some PASSHE campuses against others for revenue which could accrue to the permitting of fracking operations on PASSHE lands. Such potential competition, or implementation of SB 367 in any form, could accelerate the presence of such operations--including pipeline construction, compressor infrastructure, waste management, heavy industrial truck traffic, and thereby increase exposure to pollution and hazards for members of PASSHE communities. Lastly, APSCUF takes a position against a PASSHE contribution to climate change, as induced by increased greenhouse gas emissions, as this is also inconsistent with a mission committed to the educations and welfare of future citizens of the Commonwealth.”


8. NC Returns EPA Grant For Baseline Water Testing

               “The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources had itself recommended last year that baseline water-quality data be collected where drilling might occur. The information would help document any problems linked to drilling.

               But under new leadership appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, the department now says it doesn’t want the $222,595 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The department also returned a second grant of $359,710 for wetlands monitoring.”


9.     Quantity of Frack Chemicals Used

               “Of all the issues about natural gas drilling, perhaps the one which has garnered the most media attention is water contamination and just what is in the fracking “water”.  According to who in the industry you listen to, the amount of chemicals added to water and sand are between 0.5% – 0.9%.   Each “frack” in the Marcellus Shale uses between 5-7 million gallons of water.

Let’s do some math.

Using the low end numbers:

5 million gallons of water X 0.5% = 25,000 gallons of chemicals per frack.

               A well pad may contain multiple wells, each requiring fracking.  Multiply 25,000 gallons of chemicals by the number of wells.


Per September 2011 Research & Policy Brief by Penn State:

               While multi-well pads have increased over the past five years, the overall ratio of wells-per-pad remains low. Since 2006, over 1,553 Marcellus well pads have been developed to support 3,279 Marcellus wells in Pennsylvania indicating a well-to-pad average of 2.11. The data show that this ratio is increasing: in 2009 the average was 1.53 wells per pad, and in 2010 the average was 2.15.


 While the amount may be mind boggling, it raises a more important question of what chemicals are being used.”


10.     Range Doesn’t Know What Chemicals Are Used

          Kiskadden vs. DEP and Range Resources

               “A Motion for Contempt and for Sanctions in the Form of An Adverse Inference with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board, Docket No. 2011-149-R has been filed this past week.   This involves the lawsuit of Loren Kiskadden VS Department of Environmental Protection and Range Resources.

               The motion is a follow up on previous motion requesting Range Resources to reveal ALL of the fracking chemicals used on the Yeager site near the Kiskadden property.

               Range Resources has failed to do this despite an extension of time. What we are learning from the current motion is Range Resources doesn’t know what chemicals are being used. And neither does the DEP.  Yet both Range Resources and DEP BOTH ran tests on the Kiskadden water and determined gas drilling activities were not the cause.


 From Part 2, Shaleshock Media:   As the filed motion shows, Range really doesn’t know what it is putting down the well bores.  Range admitted it did not have an all-encompassing knowledge of the complete chemical make-up of each chemical product used at the Yeager site.

               Big Question – if Range doesn’t know what is in the fracking cocktail, how can they claim transparency and how can they test for the unknown chemicals to determine if their operations contaminated a water supply?   This is not CSI episode where a lab tech is able to pour a mixture into some sort of machine and have it identify all the chemicals.

               There are specific tests to detect the presence or absence of a given chemical.  You need to know what chemicals you are looking for in order to test for them.

               Furthermore, Range Resources and all the drillers operating in the Marcellus Shale are required to disclose the components of the fracking fluid to the DEP.    If the disclosure is inadequate and incomplete then how can the DEP make the determination that a given water supply has NOT been contaminated by a driller’s activity?


               Paragraph 35 of the motion highlights a Range Resources and the DEP’s lack of knowledge of what is in fracking fluid regarding a KNOWN chemical:

Acetone was detected.

               Range Resources denied it was utilized at the Yeager Site.  Both Range and DEP dismissed the presence of Acetone, and yet a study conducted by the DEP and Gas Technology Institute concluded that ACETONE is regularly found in flowback water.

               ACETONE is NOT a naturally occurring chemical.   It is a produced substance, it is manufactured.

               A Frack Fairy did not appear, wave her wand and **Abracadabra** there’s acetone in the water supply. Its presence in the flowback water indicates it originated as part of the fracking cocktail.


What is being revealed in the motion has much bigger implications for the natural gas industry and its impact on our communities.  It is more than just Range Resources because it raises the serious question of how many other natural gas drillers “Don’t Know Frack”, and by extension how many state environmental agencies also “Don’t Know Frack”.

               For Pennsylvania and other states with a Medical Gag on fracking fluids, it becomes very scary because even if a physician were to contact a driller and comply with signing a non-disclosure form and ask  what’s in the fracking fluid, the information the physician will receive is probably incorrect and incomplete.  How do you treat a patient for chemical exposure when you don’t what chemical is causing the problems?

               We are being told everyday by the Natural Gas Corporations it’s safe.  We are being told by their trade groups it’s safe.  We are being told by their front groups, their public relation campaigns, their lobbyists, our elected officials, by our state’s environmental agencies, by federal agencies, by professors and scientists each and every day that it is safe.    Yet, none of these are willing or able to tell us exactly what is in the fracking cocktail.”


11.  Boom In Unregulated Gas Pipelines Poses Risk


“There are currently 240,000 miles of specialized "gathering lines" at gas sites across the country, and only 10 percent of them are regulated. Since they're unregulated, operators aren't required to report leaks or spills when they occur. In most cases, state and federal officials don’t even know where these lines are located.

               Thousands of miles of pipelines are being built at natural gas drilling sites throughout the nation without supervision or regulation by state or federal authorities.

               These specialized pipelines, gathering lines, carry gas from wells to nearby separation facilities for processing. Many of the pipes are as large as regulated pipelines and operate at the same or higher pressures. Some run close to homes and businesses.

                              "Since they're unregulated, no one has to report them to anybody," said Carl Weimer, executive director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Pipeline Safety Trust. His organization has asked the federal Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to give all gathering lines the same scrutiny it gives transmission lines, which carry gas to refineries.

               Pipeline accidents involving natural gas are among the most feared industry accidents, because gas is so explosive. When a poorly maintained natural gas distribution pipeline exploded in San Bruno, CA. in 2010, eight people died and 38 homes were destroyed.

               To try to prevent such tragedies, PHMSA has traditionally focused on regulating transmission lines, which carry gas to refineries, and distribution lines, which carry gas to businesses and homes. Until the early 2000s, that approach seemed to make sense. Earlier gathering lines were much smaller and operated at far lower pressures than transmission and distribution lines. Most were also in rural areas, where mishaps would be less likely to cause widespread damage or loss of life.

               But fracking has changed that equation. To accommodate the volume and pressure of the gas coming out of fracked wells, gathering lines are now 12 to 36 inches in diameter, instead of 2 to 12 inches. They operate at much higher pressures, too.

               When an unregulated gas gathering line blew up several hundred yards from a compressor station near Alice, Texas last year, neither PHMSA nor the Texas Railroad Commission, which is in charge of pipeline safety in Texas, investigated the incident. The pipeline operator, Copano Energy, which has since been acquired by Kinder Morgan, didn’t submit an incident report to either agency.

               "Since [operators] are not required to submit data, we don't have any data," said Damon Hill, a PHMSA spokesman.”


12. Victory: Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Rebate Program

               From Penn Future

               “Did you know you can still take advantage of free rebate money from the DEP toward the cost of installing solar energy on your home or business? It's called the Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Rebate program and it's a victory for the Keystone State.

Pennsylvania's Sunshine Solar Rebate program and the DEP have distributed nearly $112 million to solar projects across the state. Rebates ranged from $7,500 for a residential system (maximum 10 KW) to $52,500 for a small commercial system (maximum 100 KW). The rebate program has contributed greatly to the 179 MW of installed solar capacity that our state now enjoys.

               PA Sunshine, as it's commonly known, was one of the centerpieces of the Alternative Energy Investment Act, passed by the State Legislature on July 4, 2008. The Act authorized $650 million in total funding for a menu of energy programs. Some veteran PennFuture staffers called it "Energy Independence Day." Yep, there was a lot to celebrate as we reaped the fruits of our labor on behalf of legislation that has offered ongoing support for solar.

               The provision included $180 million for solar energy, as referenced above for residential and small commercial solar through PA Sunshine, and for larger projects through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA). Combine that with declining solar costs and Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), and we've seen an explosion of solar in Pennsylvania. Just look at the "solar progress" western Pa. has made.”


13. Smith Township, PA- Hearing on Wastewater Facility

               “Smith Township officials are holding a public hearing before considering whether to allow a Marcellus Shale wastewater and fluid recycling facility to be built in the municipality.

                              According to the original zoning application filed by the company July 8, the recycling facility would allow for “mechanical and chemical transportation of raw materials or substances (drilling fluids) into new products or other raw materials (reuse drilling water, salt, filter cake).”

               Zoning Officer William Tohey rejected the original application July 16 because it was not a conforming use of the industrial zoned area. However, the company applied for the conditional use of the location July 18.

               The facility will accept transported water from oil and gas drilling industry, filter and treat the water to an acceptable level to be transported to the well pads,” the application states.

               It’s not known what conditions township officials might set for the recycling facility if it’s approved. Smith Township Board of Supervisors Chairman Tom Schilinski did not return a phone call to discuss the public hearing.

               According to its application, the facility will have gravel access roads and a concrete pad area to load and unload materials. The area would also have water storage tanks with containment berms and liners to prevent leaks. The company plans to build a temporary structure to hold processing equipment.”


14.   PA Well Site Is Focus of Fierce Legal Battle

          Katherine Kane Charges Exxon

               “HUGHESVILLE, Pa. - The Marquardt well site is indistinguishable from most Marcellus Shale drilling locations: It encompasses about five acres of graded farmland, covered with gravel, containing two active natural gas wells. But this well pad was the scene of a crime, according to state Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office, which on Sept. 10 announced charges against a subsidiary of the oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. for a spill that occurred here in 2010. A stream and a spring below the site tested positive for pollutants from gas-drilling wastewater - strontium, chloride, bromide, barium, and total dissolved solids.


Three years ago, the site contained about 50 steel storage tanks, parked side by side, including some that held toxic drilling wastewater to be treated and recycled. The state says that more than 50,000 gallons - about 10 tractor-trailer loads - leaked through an open valve, flowed through a ditch, and polluted an unnamed creek. Exxon Mobil's subsidiary, XTO Energy Inc., is mounting a fierce legal and public-relations defense, saying the criminal charges are "unprecedented, baseless, and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion."


15. DEP Fines Environmental Laboratory $60,000 for Various Violations

                “ DEP announced it has signed a consent order and agreement with Microbac Laboratories of Pittsburgh, which requires the lab to pay a civil penalty of $60,000 and to conduct an independent review of its laboratory in Baltimore, Maryland.


Microbac provides testing and analytical support for a variety of clients who seek DEP permits and authorizations. DEP uses such reports from independent laboratories to make regulatory decisions.

               “Accredited, independent laboratories are the centerpiece upon which all environmental protection programs depend,” DEP Bureau of Laboratories Director Martina McGarvey said. “Ensuring that labs are of the highest quality is important to the decisions we make.”

               Microbac Baltimore was accredited under DEP’s National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program to test and analyze drinking water, non-potable water, and a variety of soils, chemicals and liquids.

               During a DEP inspection in April 2013, DEP found a number of violations, such as failure to properly calculate holding times for samples; overall failure of management to provide proper quality control oversight; and not having sufficient corrective action protocols in place to address the violations.

               As a result of DEP’s determination that these and other violations had not been addressed, Microbac agreed to voluntarily relinquish its accreditations and thus immediately ceased analyzing samples for environmental compliance purposes.

               Microbac has agreed to replace its laboratory supervisor for its organics section and has already begun an independent third-party audit of the lab’s abilities to meet the conditions of its accreditation. Any issues the independent auditor’s report uncovers must be corrected.

               “DEP’s intent in this enforcement action is to have Microbac correct its violations, ensure no future violations occur, and through the audit, become a much better environmental laboratory,” McGarvey said.”


 16.  Solution to Pollution: Sautner Home in Dimock           Demolished by Cabot

               “After years of controversy, Cabot last year paid an undisclosed amount to owners of property of Craig and Julie Sautner, to settle claims that drilling contaminated their water well. As part of the deal, Cabot acquired the 3.6-acre property, the status of which remained a matter of speculation until last week               The arrival of the demolition crew marked a concluding chapter of a conflict that began in September, 2008, when the Sautner’s water suddenly went bad after Cabot crews drilled a nearby gas. Under oversight by the PA DEP, Cabot attempted to restore the Sautner’s water with a system of filters and tanks, which took up a substantial part of the basement. The system proved ineffective, and the company began delivering bottled water to the house.

               Since then, the three-bedroom ranch has become a symbol of the anti-fracking movement in the heart of Cabot’s most prolific well field.

               As drilling intensified in the area, Cabot began dealing with similar water complaints at dozens of other homes in the Carter Road area. After investigating the complaints, the DEP held Cabot drilling operations into the Marcellus Shale responsible for methane contamination in 18 water wells, and eventually ordered the company to install an $11 million pipeline to deliver water to the homes. Cabot resisted, and the DEP’s order caused a political fracas that split the community. A group of residents, including those receiving royalty payments and other compensation from the company, sided with the industry and characterized those demanding the water line as malcontents. Plans for the water line were dropped after Tom Corbett, a gas-drilling proponent, was elected governor in 2010.               But the DEP continued to enforce a ban on drilling in a 9-square mile area around Carter Road where problems persisted.  The primary constituents affecting the wells – methane, arsenic, barium and other metals -- are naturally occurring, and also a product of drilling.”





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 and Thomas Merton Society Liason-Lou Pochet
                 Secretary-Ron Nordstrom
                 Facebook Coordinator-Elizabeth Nordstrom
                 Blogsite –April Jackman
                 Science Subcommittee-Dr. Cynthia Walter
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