Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates October 10, 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 http://westmorelandmarcellus.blogspot.com/
* Our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
* To discuss candidates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/VoteProEarth/
* To contact your state legislator:
For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
* For information on the state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
*** WMCG Steering Committee Meeting This month we will meet this week Tuesday, October 15, 7:30 PM at Mike and Cindy’s, Greensburg. Email Jan for directions. All are invited.
***Southwest PA Solar Tour-Oct. 12
See Pittsburgh's best solar homes and businesses Saturday
Join The Sierra Club and PennFuture for a free, self-guided tour of local homes and businesses that use solar energy and other green technologies.
There are 22 different locations in Pittsburgh and across western PA on the tour, so feel free to visit as few or as many as you'd like. The 2013 tour is FREE, but you will need to register so that we can send you the guidebook and a link to the Google map to plan your solar tour. Come out for a fun fall day and see solar in action in Southwest PA.
WHO: You and solar owners who want to show off their homes and businesses
WHAT: Southwestern PA Solar Tour
WHEN: Saturday, October 12, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
WHERE: All around the Pittsburgh region (map)
Questions: Contact Randy Francisco at email@example.com
You'll find something spectacular around every corner - from the greatest new modern green homes and facilities, to Pittsburgh area classics that have undergone green renovations. From backyard solar farms to farms that use solar to power nearly everything. Stay in the city or wander the countryside.
Thanks for all you do to protect the environment,
Randy Francisco PA Organizing Representative Sierra Club
***Youth Power Shift Needs Housing
“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: http://www.wearepowershift.org/travel/housing-board
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or <605-553-8327>
Be a part in helping Shift the Power! We can’t do this without you!”
***Register for the Web-based Conversation-October 17
Union Concerned Scientists
When it comes to air and water quality, we can't play around with the facts. Join experts from the Union of Concerned Scientists as they discuss the new report, Toward an Evidence-based Fracking Debate, and learn how you can help ensure independent science plays a strong role in informing decisions being made about fracking.
Date: Thursday, October 17
Time: 3:00 p.m. EDT
• Gretchen Goldman, lead author and analyst, Center for Science and Democracy; and
• Andrew Resenberg, director, Center for Science and Democracy.
Also, be sure to check out the full report, Toward an Evidence-based Fracking Debate: Science, Democracy, and Community Right to Know in Unconventional Oil and Gas Development.
*** Pittsburgh Environment and Health Conference-Oct 25
“At the Pittsburgh Environment & Health Conference we will 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 todayfile://localhost/! http/::pittsburghenvironmenthealth.org:
Where & When
David Lawrence Convention Center
1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
October 25, 2013
8:30 am - 4:30 pm”
***Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering,
Cornell University -November 21- Butler, PA On the science, safety and
debate over hydraulic fracturing. More information to follow.
*** Facing the Challenges-- Duquesne University-- Nov 25, 26 Researchers present on: Air and water, Animal and Human Health, Geological, Biological investigations.
***Fall Summit, North Park- November 17
Hey folks! Thank you to everyone who made our 2013 Summer Summit a success. To all who were unable to attend, I hope this next adventure works for you! With fall finally here, it is time for our next gathering. On November 17, 2013 we will hold our 1st annual Fall Shindig at North Park in Allison Park, PA. We anticipate the day running from 9-5pm. I’ve attached a save the date for your use. The building has a capacity of 150 persons and we want to have great regional representation so please, invite your friends and colleagues. We do anticipate a $10 registration fee to cover the building and food. More details to come!!
Because we want this to be an event YOU want to attend the steering committee would like to have some feedback on the type of workshops that would be helpful. Below is a running list of suggestions. Please either choose your top 3 workshops, or write in your own and e-mail them back to mailto:email@example.com. I’d like to have replies by 10/9/2013 to ensure we have adequate time to prepare.
-Communications, social media instructions
-Building connections across state and regionally
-Creative expression, Art Therapy
-Frac Water Treatment/where does the waste go
-Pipelines and pipeline monitoring
-Non Violent Communication
-Air quality predictions/limiting exposure
-Natural Gas power plants
Peace and solidarity,
Kathryn Hilton, Community Organizer, Mountain Watershed Association
For a calendar of area events please see “Marcellus Protest” calendar:
The following petitions are still active.
*** Call--- For renewable energy jobs in Pennsylvania! (Sierra Club)
You can help fight climate change here in Pennsylvania today!
State Senator Daylin Leach is about to introduce a bill to increase the amount of electricity provided by renewable sources to 15% by 2023. Even better, it would prioritize wind energy produced in Pennsylvania!
Climate change is a big problem, but the solutions are simple -- invest in homegrown renewable energy that creates jobs for Pennsylvania families and stimulates a growing industry. To make that happen we need to let our elected officials know there's strong public demand to get Senator Leach's bill passed!
Will you call your state senator urging them to co-sponsor Senator Leach's bill?
In a state the size of Pennsylvania we can make a big difference for renewable energy and climate protection. Pennsylvania produces 1% of the entire planet's greenhouse gas emissions!
We've seen renewable energy projects create good family-sustaining jobs in the wind and solar industries, as a result of the stimulus created by the original passage of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard in 2005. But since that time many of our neighboring states have adopted stronger renewable energy policies while we have languished. As a result, the good green jobs created by our AEPS are being lost to states like New Jersey, Delaware and New York. Let's make Pennsylvania a leader in true renewable energy sources like wind and solar again, not climate disrupting natural gas.
You can help protect the climate and bring more renewable energy jobs to Pennsylvania by urging your state senator to support Senator Leach's bill.
Thanks for all you do to protect the environment,
Pennsylvania Organizing Representative Sierra Club
P.S. After you take action, be sure to forward this alert to your friends and colleagues!
***Stop NPR from Accepting Natural Gas Industry $
(From Move on)
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 http://wp.me/pJm45-33d.)
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.
*** 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.
TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TO OPPOSE HB 1576.
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
*** New Action----ACT NOW TO PROTECT ALLEGHENY COUNTY PARKS –
(from Sierra Club)
“Members of Allegheny County Council are being heavily lobbied by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Gov. Tom Corbett to vote down the call for a hold on drilling in the regional County Parks system.
CONTACTING YOUR COUNTY COUNCIL MEMBER IS ESSENTIAL
Locate your County District http://www.alleghenycounty.us/council/dist/coundis.aspx
and then find your member’s email address by clicking on their photo in the member’s directory.
The message is simple: "Please vote YES in favor of Councilwoman Daly Danko's resolution that places a hold on any drilling within or beneath all county parks until a thorough examination of the risks and liabilities has been completed."
The important preamble to Danko's resolution is at http://alleghenysc.org/?p=14140
Sign the ‘No Fracking in Our Parks’ PETITION.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP”
***FrackSwarm.org (part of Sourcewatch) is a new clearing house for information on all things frack related. Both Coaolswarm and FrackSwarm's pages are housed on SourceWatch, a 60,000-article open-source encyclopedia sponsored by the Center for Media and Democracy. CoalSwarm has been widely praised by activists; it is frequently utilized by students, journalists and lawmakers. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute says, “CoalSwarm is the central nervous system that this movement [against coal] needed.” Likewise we believe FrackSwarm will fill a similar void within the anti-racking movement, which, like the fight against coal, is diverse, dispersed and largely grassroots.
FrackSwarm's decentralized platform allows activists and others to update its content, while editors work to ensure the material is up to date, accurate and adequately sourced. Its unique in that FrackSwarm leverages the power of the grassroots: anyone can add information, all information is footnoted, the entire resource is linked smoothly from local to international content and it builds collaborative spaces among groups working on various issues related to fracking.
*** 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 http://bit.ly/ShaleTruth
***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. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
***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 www.wfte.org 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. Report: Fracking by the Numbers
Environment America Research & Policy Center
Elizabeth Ridlington Frontier Group
“A recent report by Environment America showed that the fracking boom has created a previously 'unimaginable' situation in which hundreds of billions of gallons of the nation's fresh water supply are being annually transformed into unusable—sometimes radioactive—cancer-causing wastewater.”
“Our analysis shows that damage from fracking is widespread and occurs on a scale unimagined just a few years ago.
Report Quantifies Damage Done by Gas Drilling
“This report seeks to quantify some of the key impacts of fracking to date – including the production of toxic wastewater, water use, chemicals use, air pollution, land damage and global warming emissions.
Reviewing the totality of this fracking damage, the report’s authors conclude:
Given the scale and severity of fracking’s myriad impacts, constructing a regulatory regime sufficient to protect the environment and public health from dirty drilling—much less enforcing such safeguards at more than 80,000 wells, plus processing and waste disposal sites across the country—seems implausible. In states where fracking is already underway, an immediate moratorium is in order. In all other states, banning fracking is the prudent and necessary course to protect the environment and public health.
State and Total Water Used since 2005 (billion gallons):
New Mexico 1.3
North Dakota 12
West Virginia 17
Air pollution: Fracking-related activities release thousands of tons of health-threatening air pollution.
*Nationally, fracking released 450,000 tons of pollutants into the air that can have immediate health impacts.
*Air pollution from fracking contributes to the formation of ozone “smog,” which reduces lung function among healthy people, triggers asthma attacks, and has been linked to increases in school absences, hospital visits and premature death. Other air pollutants from fracking and the fossil-fuel-fired machinery used in fracking have been linked to cancer and other serious health effects.
*Toxic wastewater: Fracking produces enormous volumes of toxic wastewater—often containing cancer- causing and even radioactive material. Once brought to the surface, this toxic waste poses hazards for drinking water, air quality and public safety:
• Fracking wells nationwide produced an estimated 280 billion gallons of wastewater in 2012.
• This toxic wastewater often contains cancer- causing and even radioactive materials, and has contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico.
Damage to our natural heritage: Well pads, new access roads, pipelines and other infrastructure turn forests and rural landscapes into industrial zones.
*Infrastructure to support fracking has damaged 360,000 acres of land for drilling sites, roads and pipelines since 2005.
*Forests and farmland have been replaced by well pads, roads, pipelines and other gas infrastructure, resulting in the loss of wildlife habitat and fragmentation of remaining wild areas.
*In Colorado, fracking has already damaged 57,000 acres of land, equal one-third of the acreage in the state’s park system.
*The oil and gas industry is seeking to bring fracking into our national forests, around several of our national parks, and in watersheds that supply drinking water to millions of Americans.
*State data confirm more than 1,000 cases of water contaminated by dirty drilling operations. For example:
• In Colorado, approximately 340 of the leaks or spills reported by drilling operators engaged in all types of oil and gas drilling over a five-year period polluted groundwater;
• In Pennsylvania, state regulators identified 161 instances in which drinking water wells were impacted by drilling operations between 2008 and the fall of 2012;3 and
• In New Mexico, state records show 743 instances of all types of oil and gas operations polluting groundwater—the source of drinking water for 90 percent of the state’s residents.
Migration of Contaminants
A recent study of contamination in drinking water wells in the Barnett Shale area of North Texas found arsenic, selenium and strontium at elevated levels in drinking water wells close to fracking sites. The researchers surmise that fracking has increased pollution in drinking water supplies by freeing naturally available chemicals to move into groundwater at higher concentrations or through leaks from faulty well construction.
National Environmental and Public Health Impacts of Fracking
Fracking Wells since 2005- 82,000
Toxic Wastewater Produced in 2012 (billion gallons)- 280
Water Used since 2005 (billion gallons)- 250
Chemicals Used since 2005 (billion gallons)- 2
Air Pollution in One Year (tons)- 450,000
Global Warming Pollution since 2005 (million metric tons CO2-equivalent)- 100
Land Directly Damaged since 2005- (acres)-360,000
2. Radioactive Discharges from Fracking In Indiana County
Duke U. Study
Has fracking contaminated water supplies? A Duke University study says its wastewater wasn't adequately treated before being released into a Pennsylvania river, causing elevated levels of radioactivity.
Radium levels were about 200 times greater in sediment from a creek where wastewater was discharged from a treatment plant than in sediment upstream, according to the peer-reviewed study in the Environmental Science & Technology journal. The amount exceeded thresholds for safe disposal of radioactive waste.
"We were surprised by the magnitude of radioactivity," says co-author Avner Vengosh, geochemistry professor at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. "It's unusual to find this level," he says, urging that other sites be investigated and that such water not discharged.
“DEP is very well aware of this,” DEP spokeswoman Lisa Kasianowitz said about the study that called radiation levels in Black Lick Creek alarming.
Josephine treatment plant owner Fluid Recovery Services signed an agreement in May that bars the facility from accepting, treating or discharging wastewater from “fracking.”
The agreement and related fines from the Environmental Protection Agency came from tests in 2011 that showed excessive levels of radioactive chemicals in the creek's sediment near the plant.
Study co-author Avner Vengosh, a professor at Duke's Nicholas School
of the Environment, said isotopes in the water that researchers sampled for more than two years indicate the plant continued to treat and release wastewater from Marcellus fracking sites even though the plant and the DEP said it stopped in 2011.
Devesh Mittal, vice president of Canonsburg-based Aquatech, which bought Fluid Recovery Services this year, denied that claim.
Vengosh said data from the peer-reviewed study, published in
Environmental Science & Technology, showed the ratio of fracking wastewater in the creek decreased but never disappeared.
“How does the facility know what's in the trucks” that drillers bring, Vengosh asked. “It could be mixed.”
"What's lacking is enforced monitoring," Vengosh says, noting that the samples collected by Duke suggest that radioactive water was still being discharged in 2012. He says more research is needed.
Kasianowitz said regulators monitor what the plant discharges and have been back to the Josephine plant since May to ensure no more fracking water is treated or discharged.”
David Conti, Trib Total Media And USA Today
3. UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health
Authors: Kyle Ferrar, Jill Kriesky, Ph.D.; Charles Christen, Dr.P.H.; Lynne Marshall; Samantha Malone, M.P.H., C.P.H.; Ravi Sharma, Ph.D.; and Drew Michanowicz, M.P.H., C.P.H., all of Pitt Public Health.
Health Effects of Fracking
“Pennsylvania residents living near “fracking,” sites attribute several dozen health concerns and stressors to the Marcellus Shale developments in their area, according to a long-term analysis by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health researchers.
Reported health impacts persist and increase over time, even after the initial drilling activity subsides, they noted. The study, which will be published in the May issue of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, did not include clinical examinations of the participants’ physical health or any environmental tests. Researchers surveyed those who believe their health has been affected by hydraulic fracturing activities for self-reported symptoms and stressors. The most commonly cited concern was stress, which 76 percent of participants said they’d experienced.
With the spread of hydraulic fracturing come untoward social and somatic health effects.
But there’s a less obvious risk. Fracking doesn't only impact health when mistakes are made. It also impacts health when everything goes right, the population explodes, and a town is drastically changed.
A recent paper by University of Pittsburgh researchers brings the camera in close to show how the fracking boom impacts health. Kyle Ferrar and colleagues interviewed community members who live near the Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania. They spoke with these community members three times. This is because they wanted to know if their symptoms got worse (spoiler: They did). They simply wanted to sketch out the self-reported health of this boomtown.
The results are alarming. Community members reported 59 health impacts and 13 stressors from the Marcellus Shale development. They complained of rashes and sores, headaches and changes in vision, diarrhea and nausea, shortness of breath, and loss of sleep.
Their in-depth interviews produced vivid accounts of life in a boomtown. “They came in and set up flare stacks and were flaring wells consistently for at least a two week period, of which we slept none probably for those two weeks,” one man told the researchers, “Because of both the noise and the light, it was like living inside a football stadium.”
Another man worried about his dying animals. His cattle had been drinking the water in the field. He suspected the water was contaminated, even though the drilling company denied it. He told the researchers that he lost 10 calves and others were born blind or with cleft palates.
But the most common symptom was stress. These stressors included ‘concerns/complaints ignored’ and having been ‘denied (information) or provided with false information.’ The most frequently reported stressor, however, was a ‘concern for health.’ This raises an important point. “If you’re living across the street from a gas field,” Jacquet said, “there may be stress from perceiving environmental contamination, whether it’s happening or not.”
There are cancer and non-cancer risks from exposure to fracking-related chemicals. But there is also a health risk from merely the fear of exposure. “
4. New Report Finds Fracking Poses Health Risks to Pregnant Women and Children
Toxic and Dirty Secrets: The Truth About Fracking and Your Family’s Health,
Center for Environmental Health
The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) released a new report outlining the health risks to pregnant women and young children from harmful chemicals used in fracking. The report, Toxic and Dirty Secrets: The Truth About Fracking and Your Family’s Health, shows how chemicals related to the oil and gas industry when conducting fracking operations can pollute the air and water in communities around fracking sites and pose health risks especially to pregnant women and children, who are most vulnerable to chemical exposures. The study, which will be published in the May issue of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, did not include clinical examinations of the participants’ physical health or any environmental tests.
“Nurses are deeply concerned about the irreparable harm fracking inflicts upon the people and communities in their care,” said Kathy Curtis, LPN, Board Member of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. “Environmental damage, diseases and disorders and negative social impacts are just part of the problem. What we don’t hear much about is another chemical industry dirty little secret: much of the fracked gas will supply cheap energy and feedstock to make yet more toxic chemicals. Further, our communities will be irrevocably contaminated, not to provide inexpensive home heating as has been advertised, but to ship the gas to China.”
“Fetuses and children are disproportionately vulnerable to the deleterious effects of exposure to environmental toxicants,” said Dr. Sheila Bushkin, MD, MPH. “Although health impacts from industrial chemicals already exist in our population, the magnitude of risk would be greatly increased if High-volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) is permitted within the state of New York. Exposure to industrial chemicals and to ionizing radiation cause greater injury during development and early life. This may result in greater likelihood of birth defects, cognitive and behavioral development and lifelong disabilities. Likewise, environmental exposures to these substances, place pregnant women at greater risk from complications of gestation, resulting in increased maternal illnesses and mortality. From an ethical point of view, it is the responsibility of the medical community and legislative leaders to protect the health of the people of New York State and future generations. The first step would be to conduct a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment, prior to permitting the onset of HVHF activities within this beautiful state.”
5. Forced Pooling in PA?
“Hilcorp Energy Co. has taken legal steps to access gas beneath Bob Svetlak’s 14.6 acre Lawrence County family homestead, owned since 1949, without his consent, arguing a law more than five decades old gives it the right to combine his land with others into a drilling unit.
If Hilcorp succeeds, it would be the first time in PA shale boom that a driller used the tactic, and it could lead to more widespread use.
“I didn't buy this land to sell it,” said Svetlak, 73, of Pulaski. “I bought it for peace and property, like a lot of people in this country. I live here for the tranquility.”
Hilcorp is using a legal maneuver known as forced pooling, in which neighboring plots of land are combined into a single unit for drilling. In geologic formations deeper than the Marcellus shale, the 1961 law allows drillers to combine gas rights into pools, even if property owners oppose.
Any use of forced pooling likely will ignite a public outcry. Attempts to extend broad pooling powers to Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale drillers have been met with swift opposition — even Gov. Tom Corbett, a supporter of gas drilling, opposed the idea in 2011, calling it “private eminent domain.”
The company acquired the right to drill on all but 35 acres, which includes at least four properties whose owners don't want to lease or who leased with another company, according to the Aug. 26 filing Hilcorp made to the state Environmental Hearing Board.
6. Court Affirms Surface Rights, Even US Forest Service Is Subservient
“Pennsylvania energy attorneys said a recent appeals ruling restricting the U.S. Forest Service's regulatory authority over drilling in the Allegheny National Forest reaffirms the long-standing legal tenet that mineral rights owners have primacy over surface owners -- and could apply more broadly to other federally owned land.
Other attorneys said the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling also provides guidance as to when the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, which requires a lengthy environmental impact study, is triggered.
The decision said the Forest Service has no regulatory authority over the mineral rights beyond whatever may have been explicitly stated in the original instruments of conveyance.
George A. Bibikos, a partner in K&L Gates' energy practice who was not involved in the Minard Run litigation, said the ruling serves as another example of the "bedrock principle of oil and gas law" that a surface owner is subservient to a mineral rights or oil and gas rights owner.
"You can't quite have a different rule for a government surface owner and a private surface owner."
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/legal/court-affirms-that-surface-rights-owners-even-uncle-sam-are-subservient-706538/#ixzz2hBm58AgT
7. New Yorkers Write To Hillary
“Last week, Hillary Clinton gave a lecture on a range of topics at Hamilton College in Oneida County, NY. Unfortunately, she was gravely wrong to tout the fact that the U.S. is seeing record-breaking oil and gas production as good news, which is tied to the expansion of fracking. We hope that Ms. Clinton will consider the facts and reconsider her position.
Dear Ms. Clinton,
We are writing to you from upstate New York, a place you recently called “a land of treasures.” We write on behalf of New Yorkers Against Fracking, a coalition which includes more than 200 organizations, 1,000 business owners and 300 faith leaders from across this great state. We appreciate this “land of treasures” every day of our lives and we want you to know that turning our lands into an industrial wasteland from fracking has no place in our environmental or economic future.”
8. Air Pollution From Gas Facilities Evaluated Individually To Avoid Pollution Regulations
More than 450 natural gas compressor stations and processing plants have been built in PA since 2008, when Marcellus gas development kicked into high gear. Collectively, the rapidly multiplying facilities emit tens of thousands of tons of pollutants a year. And the growing emissions load may eventually lead to poorer air quality, according to environmental organizations. Despite that emissions load, none of those Marcellus gas facilities are grouped together for permitting purposes by the state and labeled a "major source" of pollution -- a Clean Air Act designation that could require more extensive, and expensive, emission controls. Roy Seneca, an EPA spokesman, said this month the agency is still reviewing Pennsylvania's compliance with the Clean Air Act as part of a potential enforcement action.
"There are a lot of shale gas sources right now with emissions just below the 100-ton-per-year 'major source' threshold," said James Duffy, an attorney with the Clean Air Council. "They're treated as minor sources. But put together, they are major sources and the people living next to them are receiving major doses of pollution. They should demand a remedy." Two years ago, the Clean Air Council appealed a state decision to grant individual permits to a gas production facility and 10 gas compressor stations linked to it by pipelines, all in Washington County. Collectively those 11 facilities, all owned by MarkWest Liberty Midstream LLC, can emit more than 900 tons of nitrogen oxides a year -- or more than three times the amount emitted by U.S. Steel's Edgar Thomson steel mill in Braddock, which is designated a major source. According to the EPA, even short-term exposure to nitrogen oxides can impair respiratory health, causing throat and lung inflammation and exacerbating asthma.
9. DEP Shuts Down Drilling Wastewater Plant-Indiana County
“ State regulators have shut down a gas drilling wastewater treatment facility, Aquatic Synthesis Unlimited and its partner company, Terra Services, of Irving, Texas. They announced two years ago they would treat wastewater so it could be reused for fracking, instead of fresh water. Planners also said the plant in Rayne Township, Indiana County, would eventually treat acid drainage from abandoned coal mines, but that didn't materialize.
"They could never get going," department spokesman John Poister told the Indiana Gazette. "They were only able to operate sporadically between July and August" last year, before the plant was idled in September.
No water was supposed to be stored or discharged from the site, but Poister said about 1 million gallons of water accumulated and remains at the plant and must be cleaned up.
The company tried to haul some of the water away, so it could be disposed of at injection wells, but the department stopped that because it violated a conditional permit the plant received in April 2012 to treat and recycle the wastewater, Poister said.
Rows of 21,000-gallon storage tanks remain on the site, though Poister said he wasn't sure how many contained wastewater.
The company forfeited a $1 million bond posted before any of the work began.
The department has hired URS Energy and Construction, a Pittsburgh firm, to clean up the site that is about 50 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. That should begin in a few weeks, Poister said.”
10.Polluted Air and Bowel Disease
“ Is fracking air pollution giving you gas? You’re not alone. We have a long list of anecdotal stories about how fracking air pollution effects the guts of those who live in sacrifice zones. Now there are some studies that substantiate these stories.
A study of hospital admissions in Wisconsin found that high air pollution emissions were associated with a 40 percent increase in the rate of bowel disease hospitalizations in 2002. The authors accounted for carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, volatile organic chemicals and fine particulate matter.”
11. Wastewater Storage Proposed At Former Hallowich Property
(by Bob Donnan)
“Remember the recent public meeting between Mt Pleasant Twp & Range Resources? Range was presenting plans for a wastewater tank farm next to and on the former Hallowich property. Someone did research since that meeting and came up with what that tank farm would have to look like to hold the 15-million gallons of toxic fluids proposed...
It would actually take 15 tanks, nearly double the number Range showed on their site plan.”
12. Illinois Citizens’ List Their Demands
“As absentee oil and gas companies register with the state of Illinois this month, downstate citizens groups are taking the lead among statewide environmental groups and laying out scientific and legal standards for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to consider prior to drafting the controversial fracking rules.
At a recent meeting in Springfield between representatives of IDNR, Illinois People’s Action (IPA) and SAFE, the key citizens groups expressed their concerns with the state’s admittedly flawed legislation and the rule-making process.
“Upon inquires from IPA and SAFE, the IDNR representatives refused to acknowledge IDNR’s broad authority to deny a permit application,” said Vito Mastrangelo, an attorney and representative on SAFE’s legal affairs committee. “Section 1-53 of the new legislation includes this provision: “(a) the Department shall issue a high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing permit, with any conditions the Department may find necessary, only if the record of decision demonstrates that *** the proposed hydraulic fracturing operations will be conducted in a manner that will protect the public health and safety and prevent pollution or diminution of any water source[.]“
Mastrangelo added: “And I asked the IDNR representatives pointedly whether, if we were to convince IDNR staff that the HVHF process was not safe, they would relay their concerns to the legislators on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules or to the legislature. They would not agree to do so.”
Along with the letter, citizen groups included a list of demands drafted by the IPA on Disclosure and Transparency, Regulations and Inspection and Enforcement. Notably in the current process of drafting administrative rules by the IDNR, the list includes:
Disclosure and Transparency
1. With regard to disclosures about the rule-making process, the Illinois Department of NaturalResources (IDNR) shall: (Creed #1, 3, 6)
a. Publish the names of those who drafted the rules governing hydraulic fracturing in the State of Illinois in a state newspaper and on the IDNR website, including the drafters’ qualifications or backgrounds pertaining to their work on the hydraulic fracturing bill, within thirty (30) days of their appointment to the hydraulic fracturing committee.
b. Publish in a state newspaper and on the IDNR website a list of the names of those public health and environmental scientists involved in rule-making process with a description of their qualifications or backgrounds pertaining to the hydraulic fracturing bill within thirty (30) days of their appointment to the hydraulic fracturing committee.
c. Name scientists and/or direct action leaders on the [hydraulic fracturing committee] submitted by Illinois People’s Action and/or other Illinois social, political or environmental groups who share the opinions of those Illinois citizens working to oppose hydraulic fracturing.
2. With regard to personnel responsible for approving or rejecting hydraulic fracturing permits, the IDNR will:
a. Disclose the qualifications of personnel responsible for issuing hydraulic fracturing permits and provide a list of the permits issued by said personnel.
b. Identify the qualifications of personnel responsible for inspecting, approving, or rejecting hydraulic fracturing and their capacity to verify information provided by the applicant.
c. Identify the capacity of personnel responsible for approving or rejecting hydraulic fracturing to access the necessary resources to conduct thorough background checks on the operators requesting permits including, but not limited to, current and past violations.
d. Increase public transparency regarding the hydraulic fracturing regulation process, disclose the number of inspectors hired as well as the nature and duration of the training they have or will have undergone before they undertake this assignment, and/or any qualifications said inspectors brought to the position before being hired by IDNR.
3. Require all hydraulic permit applications to publicly disclose the depth, direction(s) and length(s) of any and all drilling done in relation to a single well head, and make this information available on the IDNR website.
4. Public Disclosure: Real time reporting and transparency: IDNR shall not issue a permit until the following public information and emergency notification systems are in place: (Creed #2, 3, 4, 5,6)
a. A list of all chemicals to be used in the well, or in the vicinity of the well, potential adverse effects of those chemicals and treatment recommended if exposed to them.
b. A Public Information guide developed in consultation with Public health officials, seismologists, and emergency medical and rescue workers and published on the IDNR site and distributed in booklet form to residents within 1 mile of any part of a fracking operation (including any part of an underground horizontal leg).
c. The company Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each chemical or product used in the well or its vicinity during any stage or for any action related to the hydraulic fracturing process.
i. The MSDS must also be distributed to local fire departments, and local and state emergency planning officials under Section 311 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. This distribution must happen at least thirty (30) days prior to use of the product on the hydraulic fracturing site.
ii. With regard to chemicals used, the MSDS shall list all chemicals to be used in the well or in its vicinity, potential adverse effects of those chemicals, and recommended treatment if exposed.
d. Creation of an Operator’s Violations page on the website that is easy to locate and navigate. Violations and/or accidents are to be posted within 48 hours of an event, with easy-to-comprehend descriptions of:
i. what caused the event;
ii. what were the damages to property, life, environment, public health;
iii. closure of operation (even if temporary);
iv. license suspensions and/or license revocations.
v. the dollar amount of fine.
Items to be reported include but are not limited to: traffic accidents, well-casing failures, spills, dumping of produced water, frack pad fires, overflow of open pit storage, intentional or accidental venting of methane, increased levels of methane and/or other chemicals in surrounding groundwater, soil or air, explosions, radiation leaks/exposure, transportation spillage, and aquatic and wildlife kills.
5. If a hydraulic fracturing company contests a penalty, or negotiates with the State of Illinois or a private citizen to settle a dispute out of court, all such settlements and/or lawsuit decisions must be described on the IDNR web site. If a hydraulic fracturing company requires that a settlement or details of a court decision be kept confidential in order for settlement to be reached, the IDNR will refuse to grant any future drilling permits to said company until the settlement details or court case details are publicly disclosed as required by the IDNR.
6. Corporate Liability: (Creed #2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Recognizing that many of hydraulic fracturing’s effects on public health have yet to be determined, and further recognizing that only the open sharing of health data will allow such detrimental health effects to be discerned, the IDNR hereby calls for a completely transparent approach to all health records likely to be related to hydraulic fracturing. In the event that IDNR learns through its inspectors or citizen reports of a public health occurrence or occurrences reasonably believed to be connected with a hydraulic fracturing site, IDNR will publish the details of such events, though not the names of the affected individuals unless permission is secured from citizens affected negatively by exposure to the hydraulic fracturing process. The IDNR further requires that any non-disclosure agreements as related to disputes, settlements or court cases between physicians and industry or patients and industry are forbidden.”
13. The Deadly Chemicals That Fracking Companies Use
“A wasteful, chemical-ridden endeavor, each fracturing uses 1-8 millions gallons of water and about 40,000 gallons of about 600 different chemicals, including deadly toxins and carcinogens. At it’s current rate, the 500,000 active wells in the country require an accumulated amount of 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals to operate.
Canada has been infected with the plague of fracking in very much the same way that the United States has. However, their disclosure laws are more environmentally driven, as there is more open access to information about fracking companies and their processes than in the states.
The British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission, a fracking company-transparency group, has worked to make sure that legislators, domestically and abroad, know what kind of chemicals these companies are using. The group compiled a list of many of the chemicals that energy companies use during the fracking process.
Below is a comprehensive table of the most dangerous and deadly chemicals, with effects ranging from minor skin irritation to severe effects like organ failure and death.
Chemical and Effects of Exposure:
14. Texas Pipeline Explosion Leaks Toxic H2S
KBYG - Special to NewsWest 9
Howard County Volunteer Firefighters and other officials were called out to a big pipeline rupture in SW Howard County Monday afternoon.
There was no explosion or flames, but the break was leaking vapor that included poisonous H2S gas.
Once officials became aware of the presence of poisonous gas, a perimeter of about a half-mile was set up around the immediate line rupture and several roads were closed.
No one was hurt in the incident and no evacuations were required, though the situation was monitored very closely due to the H2S gas.” http://www.newswest9.com/story/23630636/officials-working-pipeline-explosion-in-howard-county
Letters to the Editor
Drilling in Parks in Allegheny Co.
By Keith McDonough
Oct 4 at 6:20 PM
Dear, Allegheny Council members, to those of you that would allow drilling in our parks, I respectfully ask you to research the significant danger you are considering exposing to your constituents. Below is just one current events example of real human health harm caused by the release of carcinogens and toxins as a result of deep drilling techniques referred to commonly as fracking. I am willing to come before you and testify I have personally witnessed these same symptoms in children about the age of the one in the picture below and provide detailed information about how both the people impacted and the drilling industry came to the same conclusion; that the nearby drilling and the children’s symptoms, were directly correlative. I am also willing to come before you and present volumes of research I have collected over the last three years that clearly indicates Marcellus drilling can not only be harmful to human health but is also a highly industrial and dangerous activity, is harmful to the environment and negatively impacts home values and residential insurability.
The bottom line is that there is plenty of empirical evidence if you look that shows this drilling technology is just not just ready to be comingled with urban residential areas.
I would also ask you also to consider the economics involved and how they don’t suit a governmental entity. One thing is very clear; the funds flow will not be sustainable. Temporary funding to any public entity means your council successors down the road will inherit public programs with no funding to support them other than tax increases.
The air we breathe is in South Fayette is carried by the wind from the direction of the southwest and places like Hickory and Cecil, Washington County, where drilling activity is heavy and seems to be increasing. We are and you as our public servants are helpless to stop this detrimental air impact to our families in the southwest corner of Allegheny County. Please don’t exacerbate our air conditions by drilling our Allegheny County parks.
Please note I blind copy our Friends of South Fayette email list of over 450 recipients.
Keith McDonough, board member, Friends of South Fayette
101 Fryes Lane
McDonald, Allegheny County, PA 15057
The News Article (excerpt): Boxer asks EPA to ensure safety of L.A. neighborhood near oil field
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) asked federal environmental officials Thursday to ensure the safety of a low-income South Los Angeles community where residents worry that their dizziness, headaches and nosebleeds may be linked to noxious odors from an urban oil field.
In a terse letter, Boxer asked U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to "immediately address these unacceptable situations using all available and appropriate authorities."
Boxer requested a response by Monday describing the steps that the EPA will take to address the chemical smells, which waft through the University Park neighborhood from an oil-pumping operation on land Allenco Energy Co. leases from the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Residents say they have suffered from respiratory ailments, headaches and nosebleeds since 2010, when Allenco ramped up production at its wells by more than 400%. Neighbors complained to state air quality officials 251 times over the next three years. The South Coast Air Quality Management District responded by issuing 15 citations against Allenco for foul odors.
After analyzing three air samples collected in 2011, the district concluded that the odors pose no health risks.
Allenco has declined to comment on its operation.
The action was welcomed by University Park residents including Monic Uriarte and her 12-year-old daughter, who suffers from recurring nosebleeds.
"We're grateful to have the attention of Sen. Boxer," Uriarte said. "If it turns out that our illnesses are related to those odors, we will demand that the oil field immediately cease production."
Angela Johnson Meszaros, general counsel with the Los Angeles chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, agreed.
"Finally, this issue is being taken seriously," Meszaros said. "It's also sad that it takes someone in Washington to send a latter to someone else in Washington to get California regulators to do something about a problem that's been going on way too long."
Air quality district officials were not available for comment.”
By Bob Donnan (Letter Shared With the Public)
Bob Donnan Refutes AP Story About Bob Donnan
“You may have seen the nationally released AP story that Kevin Begos and Michael Rubinkam did on me in the newspaper today.
“Robert Donnan has earned his stripes! “ That is the compliment paid to me by other lead fractivists. Why? Because once you become a big focus of pro-industry reporters, it lets you know how effective you have become in your work on fracking issues.
So let's get to the real story, beginning with what Begos and Rubinkam wrote about me”:
Some anti-drilling activists change tone
Outspoken McMurray critic leases land to Range
By Kevin Begos and Michael Rubinkam
Associated Press October 6, 2013
“Some drilling critics, meanwhile, have become reluctant partners with an industry they dislike.
Robert Donnan had been an outspoken critic of drilling in general and Range Resources, the company that sunk the first Marcellus well in 2004, in particular. In February, the McMurray man leased his land to Range, according to public documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Donnan didn’t respond to requests for comment, nor did members of the group to which he belongs, Marcellus Protest, whose stated goal is to “stop the destruction of our environment and communities caused by Marcellus drilling.”
But one of Donnan’s cousins said family members felt they had little real choice, considering their 296-acre property southwest of Pittsburgh is already surrounded by drilling.
“The choice is either sign the lease and have some control, or don’t sign and have no control” over what happens in the area, said Geoffrey Smith, adding the family will still keep an eye on everything the drillers do.
“We’re watching for any spills, any violation of the lease, for any hanky-panky with the money,” said Smith, who praised his cousin for keeping the industry’s “feet to the fire” on environmental issues.
Donnan is still speaking out, too. In the spring, he published a letter to the editor saying “gas production is filthy business.” He also denounced drilling at a public forum in Pittsburgh — though without telling the audience he had signed a lease.
Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella said the company views Donnan’s decision to sign a lease after years of criticizing the industry “as an endorsement” of drilling, since he’s clearly aware of the risks involved.
By Bob Donnan:
Here's the story Begos & Rubinkam missed:
“Imagine my surprise in late-2012 when I learned during a Pa DEP file review that 74 acres of gas rights, a small portion owned by myself and a couple dozen other family heirs, was in the process of being drilled into by Range Resources! Imagine my greater surprise, when I learned through a cousin, who still owns much of that surface land, that no family heirs had signed a drilling lease!
Good, or so I thought.
Before that, I had been very pleased thinking that we had blocked Range from any drilling into our gas rights from a drilling pad situated in a county park. For years I had fought to stop that very drilling, but failed in my earnest and dedicated efforts, partly due to public apathy.
In that same spirit of stopping drilling in the park, I had already refused to sign the lease a Range landman presented to me earlier in the year. He suddenly appeared in our driveway one afternoon, and I sent him packing, "No thanks, especially not with Range. I have too many friends from Hickory that have been adversely affected by their drilling, but I know you are just doing your job."
You see, I had become good friends with Ron Gulla and Stephanie & Chris Hallowich over the previous 4 years. You may recall the shock expressed by everyone when they found out Range, Williams and MarkWest not only gagged them, but also gagged their young children, in a lawsuit the Hallowiches filed so they could move their children to safety.
Ron Gulla has been one of the strongest and most forthright people I know in his attempts to educate others about fracking. Range is actually afraid of Ron, as well they should be, how could they afford to have any more of his story out there?
Back to my personal situation...
Further research by family members revealed that Range had proceeded with drilling into our gas rights since they said they had signed two family heirs to a lease, and that 2% heirship interest was enough for them to proceed with drilling. (Attorneys had been telling me they felt they would not drill with any less than 50%. So much for that theory!) Only one problem, well actually two problems, neither person who signed a Range lease was related to our family. At that point I was ready to move forward with a lawsuit, but no attorney I approached would proceed on contingency, without being paid a high hourly fee.
In the meantime, these latest developments were enough to make my cousin who owns that surface property above part of our gas rights, very, very nervous, and rightly so. What if one or two heirs signed a ‘bad lease’ giving Range the right to install roads, impoundments, pipelines and drilling pads on her property? That was the last thing she wanted. So at that point she knew she had to protect her property and hired a skilled attorney to craft an extremely protective lease, one that would prevent any surface activity on her land. A couple other family heirs, including Geoffrey Smith who is mentioned in the AP story, signed a lease at the same time.
It was time for the rest of the heirs in our family to make a decision. By now it was too late for any heir who decided not to sign to change what had already happened, since the drilling was completed and the wells would be producing in March. A senior land agent at Range told heirs representing our family that any heir who did not sign a lease by May 31st would not get any royalties, not even the minimum payment required by law. Steal our gas and not pay us??
It was time for me to make a big decision, even though I only own a small portion of the 74 acres, equivalent to less than 1.5 acres. By not signing a lease, I would forfeit money that would go back into Range’s purse. By signing, I would have some additional funds to continue my fractivist efforts. My decision came down to the lesser of two evils, since I could not bear the thought of Range ripping me off and keeping my money. So I signed.
So what makes my story worth putting in the national news? I have been a lead activist in the fight for our air and water. It began when our tap water became contaminated by the dumping of drilling waste into the Monongahela River, the source of all our water. (See my earlier posts on Bob's Blog). My efforts in that fight were very effective and I accomplished most of my goals, even stepping forward to be a standing witness in two lawsuits directed against facilities that were, or soon would be, dumping drilling waste upstream from our tap water intake on the Mon River.
My focus had always been water, but other fractivists began educating me more on the serious air quality issues related to gas drilling and processing. Keep in mind that most of the counties around Pittsburgh, including our own, are non-attainment counties with existing air quality problems. So I began splitting my efforts between water and air quality issues.
Strongly believing that one picture is worth a thousand words, I knew aerial photos would be extremely valuable in the fight against fracking, since most drilling facilities in our area are elevated and can’t be seen from the ground. I went out and bought an expensive camera and lens which helped, but it still took me over a year to get in the air. Since 2009, I have flown 23 times, taking thousands of photos of the widespread destruction caused by hydraulic fracturing. These photos have been published and shared around the globe. I also continue to attend (boring) meetings on drilling issues in our area, in an attempt to hold local drillers’ feet to the fire.
Now to the hatchet job part of the AP story… I declined an interview with Kevin Begos because of the pro-industry slant of his earlier writings. Everyone has noticed it, not just me. Besides that, there are family matters and relationships that need to be preserved and protected, ones that are none of his fracking business. I was sure that whatever I would give him would be twisted and slanted in an effort to smear me. So with very few facts, and at least one bald faced lie, as well as an idiotic quote from Pitzarella at Range, he wrote his hatchet job story on me anyway.
So as the old saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. My long time opposition to the dastardly effects of gas drilling and fracking has not changed a single bit. Now, I will have a few more dollars to support my fractivist efforts. We gave $1,000 of Range’s money to Clean Water Action at their Pittsburgh fundraiser Friday night.
And for the record, I am not an active member of any groups (like Marcellus Protest) other than groups related to veterans. I am actually the proud Founder of a Vietnam artillery reunion group that has swelled its ranks to 700 veterans, as well as being a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America. Begos wanted to take a swipe at Marcellus Protest, so he painted me as a member and then tried to use it to discredit them. As Steelers coach Chuck Noll once said, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”
Ha, Kevin didn’t write anything even close to a good story, just a poorly researched hatchet job. Nice try Kevin, but you and Rubinkam blew it, big time! “