Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
October 31, 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: email@example.com
* 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 PA state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
*** WMCG Steering Committee Meeting We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg. Email Jan for directions. All are invited.
*** Nov. 4-Thomas Merton Center Award Dinner- Bill McKibben-- This year we will be honoring Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. The dinner and celebration is on Monday, November 4 at the Sheraton Station Square beginning with a 6 PM reception.
We will be offering a comfortable space for tabling and room with space for milling. We are asking folks to share 1/2 tables, about 3 ft per organization, large enough for displays and literature.
We are encouraging environment friendly groups and businesses as well as our projects and allies to take this opportunity.
The tabling is free but we do encourage you to register and reserve a dinner ticket for $50 each. This is a great way to let people know what you've been doing and advertise for upcoming events.
Please let me know as soon as possible as this will be on a first come first settled basis.
Wanda Guthrie, TMC Board Member
***Nov 12- Radioactive Drill Cuttings Reclassified - Columbus Ohio
Public forum Columbus Public Library, Tuesday Nov. 12th, 7pm.
The Ohio state legislature snuck language into the 2013 budget bill in June that reclassifies shale production drill cuttings from TENORM (Technically Enhanced Normally Occurring Radioactive Materials) to NORM (normally-occurring radioactive materials), which makes radioactive content invisible to the regulatory environment. The "beneficial uses" clause of the bill allows these potentially radioactive materials to be used in applications, such as in landfills as clay liners.
The test case is right here in Columbus, where the Ohio EPA has permitted Ohio Soil Recycling (http://www.soilrecycling.com/services/ ) to receive drill cuttings (and according to the website, this material includes drilling muds which are still classified as TENORM) to be used as a claytopper to the Integrity Drive drum dump. This landfill is a legacy dump where barrels full of toxic wastes were buried over the past decades, and has a history of leaching toxins into the nearby Alum Creek. There are 39 licensed landfills in Ohio now susceptible to receiving these radioactive
materials which are completely de-regulated.
Presenters at the forum include -
Yuri Gorby - expert on microbe effects, particularly pertinent to the soil
remediation process used by Ohio Soil Recycling
Dr. Julie Weatherington Rice - geologist, Adjunct Faculty The Ohio State
University and Bennett & Williams
Terry Lodge, attorney from Toledo area who specializes in industrial
radiation contamination issues
There will be other speakers as well.
If you can share this with any networks that you are a part of, we would
look forward to having audience members from Pennsylvania as well.
Fresh Water Accountability Project www.fwapoh.com <http://www.fwapoh.com>;
Radioactive Waste Alert Organization www.radioactivewastealert.org
Guernsey County Citizens Support on Drilling Issues
***Nov 21 Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering,
Cornell University Butler, PA On the science, safety and debate over hydraulic fracturing. More information to follow.
*** Nov 25, 26 Facing the Challenges-- Duquesne University Researchers present on: Air and water, Animal and Human Health, Geological, Biological investigations.
***Nov 17 Fall Summit, Parish Hill, North Park
“ On November 17, 2013 we will hold our 1st annual Fall Shindig at North Park in Allison Park, PA. from 9-5pm. The building has a capacity of 150 persons and we want to have great regional representation so please, invite your friends and colleagues.
$10 registration fee to cover the building and food.
Peace and solidarity,
Kathryn Hilton, Community Organizer, Mountain Watershed Association”
Register at: www.mtwatershed.com/blog
For a calendar of area events please see “Marcellus Protest” calendar:
We need volunteers who will take an hour or so to distribute flyers in Westmoreland Neighborhoods. You can help to inform your own area or we can suggest an area. Some rural areas are best reached by car and flyers can be put in paper boxes. Please contact Jan if you are able to help. Meetings are good venues for distributing flyers as well—church meetings, political, parent groups, etc. If you can only pass out fifteen, that reaches fifteen people who may not have been informed.
The following petitions are active.
***Tell FERC---Stop Rubber-Stamping Frack Pipelines
On September 29, Steven Jensen, a farmer in North Dakota, discovered a massive 865,000-gallon fracked oil spill in a wheat field on his land. The spill, which is one of the largest inland oil-pipeline accidents in the United States ever, may have gone on for weeks unnoticed before it was discovered.
The spill in North Dakota is not an isolated incident. Every week there are news reports about pipeline leaks and explosions that contaminate our land and water and sometimes kill. But instead of fixing its crumbling infrastructure, the oil and gas industry has embarked on a reckless spending spree. It wants to build thousands of miles of new pipelines so that it can frack America and make us dependent on dirty fossil fuels for decades to come.
We have to speak out now to stop it. My petition, which is to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, says the following:
America doesn’t need endless pipelines and related infrastructure that impact local communities and that choke off the development of clean, renewable energy supplies. It is time for FERC to put down its rubber stamp and place a moratorium on new fracking and oil- and gas-related infrastructure projects.
Tell the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: Stop approving oil and gas infrastructure.
Private land is seized by eminent domain. Dangerous and polluting compressor stations are constructed in the middle of residential neighborhoods. One gas pipeline is slated to cut through the Gateway National Recreation Area. And now there’s a plan to build another large and potentially explosive pipeline near a nuclear reactor in one of the most densely populated areas of the country.
How can this happen? Isn’t anyone looking out for the public’s safety and welfare?
That "someone" should be FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It’s supposed to consider “public convenience and necessity” before permitting projects like these. But it’s fallen down on the job. Instead of critically examining all the impacts associated with oil and gas infrastructure, it’s become a rubber stamp for an industry that has shown that it doesn’t give a damn about the health and safety of the American people.
Tell FERC that America doesn’t need endless pipelines and related infrastructure that impact local communities and choke off the development of clean, renewable energy supplies.
Will you join me and add your name to my petition to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to demand that it stop approving oil and gas infrastructure?
Thank you for your support.
*** 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 clearinghouse for information on all things frack related. Both Coalswarm and FrackSwarm's pages are housed on SourceWatch, a 60,000-article open-source encyclopedia sponsored by the Center for Media and Democracy. . 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.
A new Shale Truth segment featuring various speakers, can be seen on The Delaware Riverkeeper Network's YouTube channel every Wednesday at http://bit.ly/ShaleTruth
***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.
***PA has only seen tip of Fracking Iceberg-Dr Ingraffea
Dr Ingraffea explains that fracking has just begun, far more is planned, and consequently related impacts. 30-40% of all gas wells are leaking presently and this will be the case in the future.
5-10% leak immediately. Of all wells drilled between 2010 and today in PA, 10 % are leaking.
Over 1000 people in PA have said their water was affected by fracking. DEP has confirmed 161 incidents.
***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 when they became sick after fracking began in their area. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
All articles are excerpted. Please use the links to read the full article.
1. Westmoreland Reservoir
From Bob: “Parts of Westmoreland County are served by Beaver Run Reservoir as a water source. The surrounding property (owned by the water authority) already has 36 gas wells drilled by CNX. Why would anyone ever lease land that close to a water supply reservoir for drilling and fracking? DEP’s John Poister does not say what kind of unusual algae was present, could it be Golden Algae, or maybe didymo, commonly called rock snot algae??”
A clip from the New York Times explains the interest in the algae that has been mentioned at the reservoir (jan):
NYT: Who killed Dunkard Creek?
“Was it coal miners whose runoff wiped out aquatic life in the stream where locals have long fished and picnicked? Or was it Marcellus Shale drillers and the briny discharge from their wells that created a toxic algae bloom that left a miles-long trail of rotting fish along the West Virginia-Pennsylvania state line?
A few days before the consent agreement was signed and announced this year, Reynolds wrote to a colleague that Marcellus operations on the creek are the most likely way for the fish-killing "golden algae" to spread.
"There is water that is removed from these streams for use in Marcellus fracking," he wrote . "There is always some amount of water that gets left in the tank and hoses that then gets put into other streams. By far, this is the most likely way that GA [golden algae] will be moved around." http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/10/12/12greenwire-in-fish-kill-mystery-epa-scientist-points-at-s-86563.html?pagewanted=all
“Dunkard Creek is a 38-mile creek that contained a unique ecosystem with 161 species of fish, 14 species of mussels, salamanders, crayfish and aquatic insects. It was one of only two or three creeks like it on the Monongahela River watershed. Some experts say it will be decades before the fishery returns to normal, if ever. Many of the fish were over 15 years old. It's believed the prized mussel population may be lost forever.” Bob Donnan
The Water Alert At Beaver Reservoir
“The boil-water alert was issued as a precaution after water collected Wednesday at the George R. Sweeney Water Treatment Plant revealed a small depression in part of the filter, which could allow untreated water to bypass the filtration barrier, municipal authority officials at its New Stanton headquarters said Friday.
"We think the breach occurred as the filter was being tested," authority general manager Chris Kerr said.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister said small microorganisms, algae and other things they don't normally see were found in the water.”
“Oct 25 – Three school districts closed Friday. A group of nursing homes boiled water to prepare food. A popular restaurant served meals on paper plates. Shelves typically stocked with fresh vegetables at Giant Eagle were bare while mist was turned off.. An advisory to boil water, now expected to extend into Tuesday, has touched thousands across Westmoreland County.
The notice from the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County is affecting about 50,000 of its customers -- 100,000 to 120,000 people -- most north of Route 30. Parts of White Oak in Allegheny County and the Westmoreland County municipalities of Apollo, Delmont, Derry Township, Export, Irwin, Jeannette, Manor, Murrysville, North Huntingdon, Penn Township and Vandergrift are under the alert, among others. McKeesport is not affected. Water used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and preparing food should be boiled for a minute then cooled, the authority advised. “
“Kerr said the problem occurred at one of seven filtration units at the plant within a 96-hour period.
The treatment plant was built in 1997 and is rated for a capacity of 24 million gallons per day.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/4943736-74/boil-customers-according#ixzz2ihgm8hli
2. Sunoco Pipeline Meeting In Harrison City
Marian attended. Her comments:
“Sunoco representatives were present there but this was not an open forum. This actually was an invitation only forum for those who are directly affected. If you had a question, you spoke individually with a rep. I got in a couple of questions and here's what I found out.
The line is following the Dominion line which is already in place (2012). They're installing 12" lines for this LNG phase of the job. They will connect to the 8" or 10" line already in place at Delmont. The lines are some sort of steel lined.
Pumping stations will be required about every 11 miles so I don't know the ramifications of that.
The work will use Chestnut Lane in PT (Kistlers Golf course) as the job hub.
Monitoring will be done at a facility close to Philadelphia. I guess the lines are divided into sections and the company can monitor those sections to determine any problems.
The fluid will be pumped at 1500 lb pressure.”
Another comment from group member:
“Looks like the route is more through Export than Murrysville. And I believe much of it is already laid--across 22 and down across Old William Penn in Export.”
3. Tragedies Highlight The Need for Pipeline Reform
“What’s going on with pipelines? Has there been a high number of major pipeline tragedies recently, or are such incidents just more in the news with widespread attention to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline?
As someone who has worked on pipeline safety and associated environmental protection issues since I began serving on a pipeline federal advisory committee in the mid-1990s, I can say confidently that the period from 2010-2013 has had a very large number of serious transmission pipeline tragedies compared to the previous decade (serious in the lay-person’s sense of the term, i.e., not the relatively narrow definition developed by federal pipeline regulators). The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), part of the U.S. Dept Of Transportation , oversees pipeline safety and environmental protection nationwide. PHMSA performs this job through regulations and their enforcement, advisory bulletins, education, safety research, permit approvals and partnerships with many state pipeline regulators. Congress guides PHMSA’s work, with the most recent pipeline safety law reauthorization signed by President Obama on Jan. 3, 2012.
According to PHMSA, in 2012 there were more than 185,000 miles of hazardous liquid transmission pipelines (generally crude oil and its products like gasoline and diesel) and nearly 303,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines in the U.S. The map shows the locations of these transmission pipelines. The map does not show federally-unregulated pipelines including extensive rural “gathering” line mileage–likely an up-and-coming problem in terms of safety and the environment as unregulated shale gas and oil gathering lines age and corrode.
Early in the Obama administration, PHMSA began a review of its hazardous liquid (49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 195) and natural gas (49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 192) transmission pipeline regulations, and requested public comments on what changes should be made to improve those regulations. These “advanced notices of proposed rulemaking” (ANPRM) were issued on Oct. 18, 2010, for hazardous liquid transmission pipelines and on Aug. 25, 2011, for natural gas transmission pipelines. Commenters included industry, state and local governments, public interest organizations, and individuals.
Despite extensive and broad interest in updating and streamlining these regulations, PHMSA has not issued the necessary follow-up rulemaking proposals. These regulations are needed reforms that have not progressed at all during the five years of the Obama administration. PHMSA’s regulatory paralysis is unacceptable to those who lived through past transmission pipeline tragedies and to everyone who lives near or cares about pipeline safety.
These reforms, which have been under development since well before the ANPRMs were issued, include:
* Providing upgraded regulatory coverage for unregulated or minimally-regulated pipelines especially rural gathering lines, “produced water” lines which contain briny subsurface fluids, multi-phase pipelines containing oil, gas and produced water, and pipeline segments not likely to affect “high consequence areas” (currently, integrity management requirements apply only to pipeline segments likely to affect high consequence areas).
* Leak detection requirements for oil and natural gas transmission pipelines. There are no federal leak detection performance standards at present (some states have such standards) so—if operators have leak detection at all—there are no standards for how well these mechanisms must perform, e.g., what their detection levels must be and the speed of detection. At the request of Congress, PHMSA has developed several studies on leak detection, however the report findings have gone nowhere (much to the dismay of leak detection equipment manufacturers).
* Instituting shut-off valve requirements for both natural gas and oil pipelines to minimize the sizes of releases. These regulations would include shut-off valve location requirements.
What will it take to get the Obama administration to move forward on these important regulatory initiatives? Sadly, relatively frequent, major pipeline tragedies do not appear to be enough. Congress should be concerned about this and may need to hold hearings on why there have been regulatory development delays, especially after it did its job in 2011 reviewing and passing the pipeline safety statute reauthorization with bi-partisan votes in both the House and Senate. The new Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, also needs to be aware of, and to take action on, the unacceptable regulatory paralysis that currently prevents pipeline safety improvements.”
This post originally appeared on SkyTruth.org.
4. Valley Grove, WVA Home Destroyed By Drill Muds
30 Fish Killed
‘Drilling mud’ floods from pipeline project
"We are not certain how the drilling mud traveled from the drilling site to the well," he said.
“4 feet of drilling fluid and water poured into the Wieczorkowski basement. A MarkWest crew was drilling near the property as part of a pipeline installation
Robert McHale, manager of governmental and regulatory affairs for MarkWest Energy, said workers were doing a horizontal bore under the road near the Wieczorkowski home when the drilling fluid pushed up through the home's basement floor. He said a 200-foot offset existed between the home and the drilling site. West Virginia DEP spokesman Tom Aluise said 6,000 gallons of water and drilling fluid infiltrated the Wieczorkowski home from a nearby pipeline operation through an abandoned water well under the house. "We are not certain how the drilling mud traveled from the drilling site to the well," he said.”
WTOV 9 Video:
Question posed by group member: How did "nontoxic" drilling mud kill 30 fish ?
Pipeline Drilling Mud Enters Creek
Professor Stout Asks for Proof of Non-Toxicity
“The infiltration of more than 6,000 gallons of "drilling mud" into a Valley Grove home appears to be part of a larger gas pipeline problem-- the fluid also seeped into nearby Little Wheeling Creek twice last week. West Virginia DEP spokesman Tom Aluise said about 30 fish - mostly minnows - died in Little Wheeling Creek when drilling fluid pushed up through cracks in the creek's bed. The drilling operation is part of MarkWest Energy's pipeline infrastructure in Ohio County. Aluise said drilling mud entering a creek through cracks in the creek bed is not an unusual occurrence. "It happens," he said. "In the industry they call it inadvertent return." Aluise said "a huge amount of mud concentrated in a small area robs the water of oxygen and little fish cannot survive in that environment."
MarkWest spokesman Robert McHale said the fish died because their water was taken away. Benjamin Stout, a biology professor at Wheeling Jesuit University, wants proof the fluid is non-toxic. "The facts do not add up," he said. "They should do a laboratory sampling (of the drilling mud) and show us the results. That will tell if it is non-toxic." The pipeline issue is not the first in the region for MarkWest. In August, the DNR cited the company for "conditions not allowable in the waters of the state" after a landslide ruptured a natural gas liquids pipeline causing a fish kill in Rocky Run, a tributary of Fish Creek in Wetzel County.”
5. Fracking Leads to Industrialization of Backyards
“The natural gas boom has led to an “unprecedented industrialization” of many Americans’ backyards, an analysis from the Wall Street Journal has found.
The WSJ looked at census and gas well data from more than 700 counties in 11 major gas producing states, and found that at least 15.3 million Americans have a natural gas well within one mile of their home that has been drilled since 2000. That’s more than the population of Michigan or New York.
The boom has left some towns inundated with natural gas operations. In suburban Johnson County, Texas, 99.5 percent of the area’s 150,000 residents now live within a mile of the county’s 3,900 wells — in 2000, there were fewer than 20 oil and gas wells.
And the construction of natural gas wells isn’t letting up anytime soon. Production of the Marcellus Shale region is growing faster than expected, reaching 12 billion cubic feet a day — enough that, if it were a country, the Marcellus Shale would be the eighth-largest producer of natural gas in the world. America will have “a million new oil and gas wells drilled over the next few decades,” a Duke professor told the WSJ.
And it’s likely many of those wells could end up in Americans’ backyards — a recent Reuters analysis uncovered the unsettling trend of home developers keeping the rights to oil and gas reserves under the houses they sell, in many cases without notifying the homes’ buyers outright. That way, the home developer can lease the land of an entire neighborhood to a natural gas company — with or without the residents’ consent.
This boom of backyard wells, however, has driven many Americans to action. More and more cities are voting to ban fracking; Pittsburgh was the first municipality in 2010 to ban the practice, and since then Highland Park, N.J., and multiple cities in Pennsylvania have banned fracking. In 2011, Dryden, N.Y. banned fracking after a fierce and successful lobbying effort from town citizens. Now, that ban is being taken to New York’s highest court, and the court’s decision could set precedent for the legality of other local fracking bans.
It’s not surprising that many towns and cities are concerned about the dangers of fracking. Fracking has been tied to a range of health effects in people and livestock, and it also greatly increases truck traffic around wellsites, leading to an increase of noise and fumes. It’s largely up to states to enact their own regulations on fracking, and several are — California is requiring oil and gas companies to list the chemicals they use in fracking online and monitor the air and water quality around well sites, and New York state enacted a moratorium on fracking six years ago, in order to give the state time to determine the potential environmental and health impacts of the practice.
But right now, there are few federal regulations on the practice, something House Democrats want to change. They’re calling on the Obama administration to speed up Environmental Protection Agency guidance on fracking — guidance which they say is long overdue.”
6. Clean Water Action Sues: Alleges Waste Treatment Corp. Discharged Drilling Waste Into Allegheny River
October 28, 2013
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Clean Water Action has filed a federal lawsuit against Waste Treatment Corp., alleging the commercial water treatment facility in Warren is illegally discharging gas drilling wastewater containing high levels of salts, heavy metals and radioactive compounds into the Allegheny River.
The statewide environmental organization, which filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in Erie, said the company has violated its discharge permit limits more than 400 times since 2010.
Despite those violations, and the ongoing 200,000-gallon-a-day discharge of drilling wastewater containing 125,000 pounds of salt, the DEP has not taken any effective action to stop the pollution, said Myron Arnowitt, Clean Water Action state director.
"You hear all the time that gas drilling wastewater doesn't end up in our rivers anymore. However, this is one case in which it clearly is," Mr. Arnowitt said.
A 2012 DEP study, cited in the lawsuit filing, found levels of chloride, bromide, lithium, strontium, radium-226 and radium-228 downriver from the plant that were more than 100 times higher than those found upriver from the plant.
The Allegheny River is the drinking water source for several public water suppliers, including the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, which has 400,000 customers.
"One of the reasons we decided to proceed with our suit is because DEP seems more concerned with negotiating a deal with the company than protecting the public," Mr. Hvozdovich said. "It's important that WTC stop accepting natural gas drilling wastewater while the legal process unfolds and that any resolution to the situation ensures the protection of the Allegheny River.”
7. McCawley Finds High Levels of Benzene in WV Panhandle
Recommends Respiratory Protection
“Michael McCawley continues letting West Virginia lawmakers know that carcinogenic air pollutants from Marcellus Shale drilling pose a serious threat in the Northern Panhandle. McCawley, chairman of the Department of Occupational & Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University, testified last week before a committee of the state Legislature's. One of these studies he prepared for the WVA DEP measured levels of cancer-causing benzene in the air 625 feet away from one Wetzel County site, which were so bad that McCawley said he would recommend "respiratory protection" for those in the area. Current West Virginia law requires wells be drilled at least 625 feet away from an "occupied dwelling," but McCawley emphasized that air pollution can move. McCawley also said air pollution can flow from natural gas pipelines, noting this can create even more problems because there is no such requirement that pipelines be built 625 feet from homes.”
8. New Report Exposes Impacts of Fracking on Water
By: Hansen, Mulvaney, Betcher
San Hose University
Prepared for Earthwork Oil and Gas Accountability Project
“A new report reveals the impacts of Shale gas development on freshwater resources in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The report, Water Resource Reporting and Water Footprint from Marcellus Shale Development in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, provides the most recent and comprehensive investigation of water used and waste generated by fracking operations in the two states.
“Water use and contamination are among the most pressing and controversial aspects of shale gas and oil development,” says Evan Hansen of Downstream Strategies. “Industry and policymakers must heed this information to prevent water and waste problems from escalating.”
Among the findings:
* More than 90 percent of the water injected underground to frack gas wells never returns to the surface, meaning it is permanently removed from the water cycle. This could have huge repercussions in water-poor states.
* More than 80 percent of West Virginia’s fracking water comes from rivers and streams. Reuse and recycling of flowback fluid makes up only eight percent of recent water use in West Virginia and 14 percent in the Susquehanna River Basin in Pennsylvania, and is highly unlikely to be a solution to the water needs of the industry going forward.
* As the industry expands, the volume of waste generated is also increasing rapidly. Between 2010 and 2011, it went up by 70 percent in Pennsylvania to reach more than 610 million gallons.
* Water use per unit energy—often referred to as a blue water footprint—is higher than evaluated by prior research, even though this study employed a stricter definition of water use. While previous studies considered all water withdrawn per unit energy, this one only considered water that is permanently removed from the water cycle.
* States have taken steps to gather information on water withdrawals, fluid injection, and waste disposal, but reporting remains incomplete, operators sometimes provide erroneous data, and the data itself is not always readily available to the public.
“It is clear from this report that fracking uses and will continue to use considerable water resources, despite industry claims to the contrary,” says Bruce Baizel director of Earthworks’ energy program. “This means we need stronger public oversight of fracking, and also a more robust debate on how much water we are willing to part with for the sake of fracking.”
9. Leaked Documents Reveal the Secret Finances of
Pro-Industry Science Group-ACSH
“The American Council on Science and Health bills itself as an independent research and advocacy organization devoted to debunking "junk science." It's a controversial outfit—a "group of scientists…,…….that often does battle with environmentalists and consumer safety advocates, wading into public health debates to defend fracking, to fight New York City's attempt to ban big sugary sodas, and to dismiss concerns about the potential harms of the chemical bisphenol-A (better known at BPA) and the pesticide atrazine. It acknowledges that it receives some financial support from corporations and industry groups, but ACSH, which reportedly stopped disclosing its corporate donors two decades ago, maintains that these contributions don't influence its work and agenda.
Elizabeth Whelan, a Harvard-trained public-health scientist, founded ACSH in 1978 as a counterweight to environmental groups and Ralph Nader's consumer advocacy movement.
From the start, ACSH has faced questions about its funding. It was launched with $100,000 in seed money from the Sarah Scaife Foundation, which has also supported the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and Americans for Tax Reform, among other conservative groups. By the early 1980s, ACSH's donors included Dow, Monsanto, American Cyanamid, Mobil Foundation, Chevron, and Bethlehem Steel. In 1984, Georgia-Pacific, a leading formaldehyde maker, funded a friend-of-the-court brief filed by ACSH in an industry-backed lawsuit that overturned a ban on formaldehyde insulation.
Yet internal financial documents provided to Mother Jones show that ACSH depends heavily on funding from corporations that have a financial stake in the scientific debates it aims to shape. The group also directly solicits donations from these industry sources around specific issues..
According to the ACSH documents, from July 1, 2012, to December 20, 2012, 58 percent of donations to the council came from corporations and large private foundations. ACSH's donors and the potential backers comprise a who's-who of energy, agriculture, cosmetics, food, soda, chemical, pharmaceutical, and tobacco corporations. ACSH donors in the second half of 2012 included Chevron ($18,500), Coca-Cola ($50,000), the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation ($15,000), Dr. Pepper/Snapple ($5,000), Bayer Cropscience ($30,000), Procter and Gamble ($6,000), agribusiness giant Syngenta ($22,500), 3M ($30,000), McDonald's ($30,000), and tobacco conglomerate Altria ($25,000). Among the corporations and foundations that ACSH has pursued for financial support since July 2012 are Pepsi, Monsanto, British American Tobacco, DowAgro, ExxonMobil Foundation, Phillip Morris International, Reynolds American, the Koch family-controlled Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Dow-linked Gerstacker Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, and the Searle Freedom Trust.
Lately, ACSH has become a vocal player in the debate over "fracking." In February, the council posted an outline of a "systematic, objective review" it intends to publish on the scientific literature covering the potential health effects of fracking. In an April op-ed for the conservative Daily Caller website, Whelan criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) for dithering on whether to allow fracking in New York State and asserted that "publicity savvy activists posing as public health experts are spearheading a disingenuous crusade to prevent the exploitation of the vast quantities of natural gas." Fracking, Whelan wrote, "doesn't pollute water or air."
The Daily Caller story included no disclosure of the funding ACSH has received from the energy industry. Big energy companies and ACSH go way back: In the 1992 memo, Whelan called ACSH "the great defender of petrochemical companies." According to the ACSH documents, it received a $37,500 donation in 2012 from the American Petroleum Institute related to "fracking." That year, it also received other energy industry funds, including $18,500 from Chevron and $75,000 from the ExxonMobil Foundation.
The ACSH documents list ConocoPhillips as a "projected" donor for "fracking/general" and say ACSH should pitch the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, a "past supporter," around the issue of fracking. According to the documents, ACSH was awarded a grant for fracking work from the Triad Foundation ($35,000 for "gen/fracking"). Triad has supported the Heritage Foundation and the Heartland Institute, a nonprofit that has worked to refute climate science. The Bodman Foundation also gave $40,000 to support a forthcoming ACSH study titled "Hydraulic Fracturing: Myths and Realities." Bodman is a reliable supporter of conservative causes, doling out five-figure sums to the American Enterprise Institute, Hudson Institute, and National Center for Policy Analysis.”
“The small town of Pungesti in eastern Romania could be sitting on vast reserves of shale gas and U.S. Chevron wants to find it. But the people of Pungesti want nothing to do with it. "Our kitchens are filled with homemade jams and preserves, sacks of nuts, crates of honey and cheese, all produced by us," said Doina Dediu, 47, a local and one of the protesters.
"We are not even that poor," she said. "Maybe we don't have money, but we have clean water and we are healthy and we just want to be left alone."
Several people said they had gone on YouTube to watch excerpts of the 2010 U.S. documentary "Gasland," which to showed the environmental damage caused by shale gas drilling.
Chevron said studies by the EPA and the Ground Water Protection Council had confirmed no direct link between fracking and groundwater contamination.
Some local people say they doubt the project would generate many jobs, or that they are qualified for them. If there is to be progress and investment, they say they would prefer a vegetable processing plant, abattoir or wind energy park.”
11. Texas Air Pollution Linked to Fracking and No Zoning
From Keith Mcdonough, (summarized by jan)
“The article below is from the Allegheny Front web site. The NPR program addressed Air Pollution caused by Fracking; Dallas TX now has the second worst air in the nation due to fracking and related industry primarily because they have no local zoning laws in Texas. That’s right; residential areas are right next to industrial activity . That is just what Governor Corbett’s stated plan is for PA; “the next Texas” but he needs to destroy local zoning laws to complete it which is what Act 13 does. Zoning protection is what Commissioners in South Fayette have been fighting for in the courts with no final ruling released a year after our case was heard. What is going on there? How does our Supreme Court wait a year to release their decision?”
The Allegheny Front article:
Cracker Plant Pollution: Preview for Pennsylvania
Twice the VOCs of the Clairton Coke Works?
“When that stuff gets emitted in the daytime—it cooks up the highest amount of ozone you’ve ever seen,” Jeffries said.
“Petrochemical plants have helped fuel the Houston’s economic rise. But they also have added to its poor air quality, with emissions linked to asthma, cancer, and heart attacks.
From Pennsylvania to Texas, the chemical industry is building new plants to take advantage of gas produced up by the fracking boom. Shell Chemical is eyeing building an ethane cracker in Monaca in Beaver County. The plant would take ethane from the Marcellus shale and convert it into ethylene—a key building block for plastics and chemicals—through the ‘cracking’ process.
Shell’s Pennsylvania cracker would be northwest of Pittsburgh, in a region that already fails federal air quality standards for ozone and other pollutants, according to the EPA. Ozone is an oxidant that can burn lung tissue, aggravate asthma and increase susceptibility to respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis, according to the agency.
Ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) mix with other forms of pollution in the presence of sunlight. Air quality experts say the biggest impact a cracker plant would have in Pittsburgh would be through releases of VOCs.
The company has said differences in local permitting rules and the type of raw materials it would use make it hard to project what kinds of emissions a Pennsylvania cracker would produce. The company has used Shell’s Norco plant in Louisiana in the past as a reference when it proposed its Pennsylvania cracker. Norco produces roughly twice the VOCs of U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke works, currently the highest emitter in Southwestern Pennsylvania, according to the EPA.
Shell recently agreed to spend $115 million to clean up emissions at its Deer Park, Texas, refinery and ethylene plant near Houston after the Department of Justice filed a complaint alleging the plant’s flares were emitting improper amounts of VOCs and cancer-causing pollutants.
Joe Osborne of the Group Against Smog and Pollution, said the Beaver County plant would likely be a major source of new pollution, with more than 50 tons per year of VOCs and 100 tons of nitrogen oxides, another key component of ozone, though he has yet to see any estimates from the company.
“I expect it will be a large source of ozone precursors, and this would be located in an area that’s already failing to meet federal health-based standards for ozone,” he said.
Compounding the problem is the fact that Houston has no zoning laws, which means residents live across the street from huge refineries and chemical plants.
In 2003, Toyota decided against locating a plant in the region because of the city’s air. Hendler says the number of air monitors in Houston doubled in a few years.
The state undertook a wide ranging series of studies. Aircraft from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration flew over the ship channel with special emissions-sensing equipment.
They found big leaks at the plants. The worst were from chemical plants with ‘crackers’ that made ethylene and propylene, two basic building blocks of plastic.
“The plants were having 1,000 pound releases, 5,000 pound releases, 20,000 pound releases, in one case 200,000 pound releases,” said Harvey Jeffries, a retired University of North Carolina chemist who studied Houston’s air.
Ethylene and propylene—the two main products made in a cracker— are considered ‘highly reactive VOCs, meaning they can create large plumes of ozone in a matter of hours under the right conditions.
“When that stuff gets emitted in the daytime—it cooks up the highest amount of ozone you’ve ever seen,” Jeffries said.
When they looked at Houston’s industrial corridor, scientists realized chemical plants had been chronically under-reporting their emissions. A lot of this pollution was ‘fugitive’ emissions—leaks from valves, flanges, tiny holes in pipes, and incomplete combustion of waste gasses in the plants’ flares.
To get the city’s air under federal air pollution limits, Texas implemented a suite of environmental reforms. The state created special limits on emissions of highly reactive VOCs like propylene and ethylene, and implemented a cap-and-trade program for Houston’s petrochemical plants.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality estimates the city’s ozone levels have decreased about 20 percent since 2001.
Houston still struggles with air quality. The city will see huge expansions of its petrochemical sector in the next few years, thanks to the fracking boom. Several new or expanded ethane crackers are slated to go online to take advantage of cheap natural gas. This has some clean air advocates worried.
Larry Soward, a former regulator for the Texas commission and president of Air Alliance Houston. “But let’s not pat ourselves on the back too much. So far we have not met a single (federal) standard for ozone and we’re talking about adding all these new pollution sources.”
Soward thinks they could go even further—by implementing more fence-line monitoring and increasing maximum fines on plants, now $25,000 a day.
“We just don’t do that in Texas,” he said.
“If you monitor, it will get better,” he said. “That’s exactly what happened here.”
Smith’s group tests for more than 150 pollutants to help oil, gas and petrochemical businesses meet federal air quality mandates.
It helped companies cut down on leaks at their facilities. In that way, he said, the monitors have been good for the city’s air, and good for the companies’ bottom line.”
See more at: http://www.alleghenyfront.org/story/houston-air-pollution-preview-pennsylvania#sthash.gwvvi9U3.dpuf
12. Stanford Professor:
Powering Entire World on Renewable Energy No Problem
“A Stanford University professor, a guest on the Letterman Show, did more than just advocate renewable energy. Mark Jacobson suggested that the world could easily live off renewable energy.
“There’s enough wind to power the entire world, for all purposes, around seven times over,” the professor of civil and environmental engineering told David Letterman. “Solar, about 30 times over, in high-solar locations worldwide.”
Jacobson said a good starting point would be in the U.S., where he believes the world’s largest untapped resource of offshore wind energy exists on the East Coast. Jacobson, the director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy program, told the audience that he is working on “science-based plans to eliminate global warming” because 2.5 million to 4 million deaths take place each year due to air pollution.
Early on, Letterman posed one of the most pressing questions regarding a shift to renewables: “How do we motivate the fossil fuel people—the gas, and oil people—of this country to stop what they are doing? … They’re not going to give up this multi-billion dollar industry.”
Jacobson responded, “We really do need policies put in place. Right now, the fossil fuel industry gets a lot of subsidies. Wind and solar also get subsidies, but not quite as much in aggregate.
“Policies need to be shifted toward wind, solar, geothermal and electric cars.”
Watch the attached to video to learn about Jacobson’s plan and why he believes “everything’s going to be OK.”
13. Teresa Heinz Kerry Speaks on Shale Center
Teresa Heinz Kerry, chair of the Heinz Endowments, said she and other family members on the endowments' board wanted to collaborate with the energy industry on ways to responsibly drill for gas in the Marcellus Shale, but they did not expect the Center for Sustainable Shale Development to be launched out of that effort.
"I was never involved with the center. ... I don't know how it came about," Mrs. Kerry said. Mrs. Kerry, refused to link Ms. Glotfelty's firing to creation of the center. Nor would she comment on the departure of Douglas Root, longtime communications director. The foundation's executive director, Robert Vagt, announced he also will step down.
Many observers believe Ms. Glotfelty, Mr. Root and Mr. Vagt all may have been caught up in the fallout from launching the center, which apparently did not have the full support of the Heinz family members who sit on the endowments board.
The Center for Sustainable Shale Development is a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that states its mission as supporting best practices for shale development. Its partners include energy companies such as Chevron, EQT, Consol and Shell; environmental groups including the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Penn Future; and philanthropies.
Asked how that initial idea to collaborate evolved into the center without her or the board's knowledge, Mrs. Kerry said, "I don't know. Things changed. I don't know how or when."
While she acknowledged approving initial funding for "a collaboration," the board did not authorize the center, she said.
Some foundation observers have speculated that while she was ill, Andre Heinz, known to be an avid environmentalist, assumed more control of foundation affairs and was involved in firing the staff members.
"He is one of the brightest people there are and is passionate like his father and doesn't put up with nonsense. ... It's probably an easy way for people ... to criticize what they don't like. And I don't care, quite frankly."
14. U.S. Department of Energy Awards $60M to Solar Research and Development
Wanting to build on an already growing industry, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) invested $60 million this week in solar energy research and development.
The awards were announced at the Solar Power International 2013 event in Chicago as a small portion of President Obama’s plan to reduce carbon pollution while supporting clean energy innovation.
The $60 million, issued by the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, is spread out over 40 awards and six funding programs, program director Minh Le told RenewableEnergyWorld.com. The awards support technologies that lower installation costs, increase performance, support solar cell efficiency and more.
15. Massachusetts Model State
“350 Massachusetts is a grassroots, volunteer-led network that Bill McKibben has called a “model for what we need all across the country and all around the world.”
We're focusing on two core campaigns: divesting the state of Masschusetts from fossil fuels and working with Governor Deval Patrick to achieve key climate goals during his last year in office.
Our divestment campaign aims to make Massachusetts the first state in the country to divest from fossil fuels, and we've built a lot of momentum over the past few months. Meanwhile, our Climate Legacy campaign plans to work with Governor Patrick on initiatives like a ban on coal-fired power plants, an end to new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, and setting our state up for a carbon tax.
For more information on 350MA or our core campaigns, visit our website at 350ma.org. If you've been wondering how to get more involved, this is your chance. Newcomers who are ready to work on an ongoing basis are welcome. Come to the 350MA Campaigns Summit, and leave with a critical role on one of the statewide campaign teams!”
From 350 mass.
16. Fracking Industry Fights Taxes
“A coalition of gas drilling companies came out recently against higher taxes on gas drilling companies in Pennsylvania. The Marcellus Shale Coalition, industry group, blasted plans from a variety of Democrats’ gubernatorial hopefuls who say they want to increase the taxes paid by the gas industry. Drillers in Pennsylvania pay an impact fee to the state and local governments – drillers have paid more than $400 million since the fee was imposed in 2012 – but Democrats want to increase the rate and use it to fund a range of state-level programs that have nothing to do with drilling.
“Every square inch of the Commonwealth is benefiting from this generational opportunity,” the coalition said in a statement. “It would be irresponsible and ill-advised to advance massive new energy taxes that would strike an unnecessary blow to one of our economy’s most important, thriving and promising sectors.”
It’s hardly surprising. After all, what industry would not oppose a politically driven effort to single them out for higher tax rates?
But there is more to the story, and it’s a story voters will hear plenty about in the next year.
With Gov. Tom Corbett looking like one of the most vulnerable governors in the country for the 2014 election cycle, the natural gas industry figures to be one of his most important allies.
The reason is simple: Natural gas companies have more than just rhetoric to help the embattled governor. They also write checks with lots of zeroes.
The gas industry poured more than $1 million into Corbett’s first gubernatorial campaign, and Democrats talking about jacking up taxes on their companies will only drive them further into Corbett’s corner for 2014.
Corbett’s team talks about raising as much as $30 million for his re-election effort. It’s a good bet that a sizable chuck of that amount will come from the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s members.
It’s no secret that the Republicans and the natural gas companies have forged a politically beneficial alliance.
.” The campaign of Tom Wolf, a York County businessman and former head of the state Department of Revenue, responded with a video criticizing the governor for “giving away our state’s natural resources.”
And that’s the message you can expect to hear from many of the Democratic candidates over the next year, particularly as they play to their base in the primary.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, the perceived frontrunner in the race, has called for a 5 percent tax on natural gas production.
Democrats seem determined to take a hard-line anti-fracking stance during next year’s campaign. The state party has already approved resolution in favor of banning hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania, though state lawmakers and the heads of several prominent unions criticized that decision and cited the “vital economic interest” gas drilling represents.
There also is the minor question of whether such a tax — to say nothing of a drilling ban — would pass the Republican-controlled Legislature. Former Gov. Ed Rendell could not get a 5 percent severance tax through the General Assembly, even when half of it was controlled by Democrats.”
17. Air pollution from gas/oil Processing Connected to Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Leukemia
(Another report on the lymphoma- leukemia study, jan)
Journal: Atmospheric Environment
“It turns out that heavy air pollution in Canada may be associated with cancer spikes. Scientists have discovered that levels of contaminants higher than in some of the world's most polluted cities have been found downwind of Canada's largest oil, gas and tar sands processing zone in a rural area where men suffer elevated rates of cancers linked to such chemicals.
In order to examine how this processing zone might be impacting the community downwind from it, the researchers captured emissions in the rural Fort Saskatchewan area. They took one-minute samples at random times in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Despite the random times, though, all of the samples showed similar results; amounts of some dangerous volatile organic compounds were 6,000 times higher than normal.
The contaminants that the researchers found included the carcinogens 1,3-butadiene and benzene and other airborne pollutants. Yet in order to see how these pollutants might be impacting the community, the researchers had to investigate a bit further. They gathered health records spanning more than a decade that showed the number of men with leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was greater in communities closest to the pollution plumes than in neighboring counties.
"Our study was designed to test what kinds of concentrations could be encountered on the ground during a random visit downwind of various facilities. We're seeing elevated levels of carcinogens and other gases in the same area where we're seeing excess cancers known to be caused by these chemicals," said Isobel Simpson, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Our main point is that it would be good to proactively lower these emissions of known carcinogens. You can study it and study it, but at some point you just have to say, 'Let's reduce it.'"
That's not all the researchers discovered, either. It turns out that the Alberta plumes were comparable to those found in heavily polluted megacities. In fact, the levels of some chemicals were higher than in Mexico City during the 1990s or in the still polluted Houston-Galveston area.
"For decades, we've known that exposure to outdoor air pollutants can cause respiratory and cardiovascular disease," said Stuart Batterman, one of the researchers. "The World Health Organization has now also formally recognized that outdoor air pollution is a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths."
The findings are published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.”
18. Processors and Compression
Commentary and Photos By Bob Donnan
“Following two dozen flights over Shale Gas development, this kind of image still opens my eyes to the broad scope of what is very quickly happening around us. Especially when you consider that a dozen or more of these huge wet gas processing (fractionators) and compression facilities have popped-up around the tri-state area in just the past few years, with this one being slightly south of the Pennsylvania line in Wetzel County, WV. Consider the logistics it took to build this place! Some of these facilities process Utica Shale wet gas, and others Marcellus Shale wet gas, but the gas liquids these facilities separate from the methane (natural gas) seems to be about the same: mostly propane, followed by butane and pentane.
Next they want to extract more ethane to fuel ‘cracker’ plants which supply feedstock for things like plastic manufacturing. These gas liquids are all ripe for export by truck, rail, pipeline and ship. With all this infrastructure in place, drilling in neighborhoods will be their final phase… one well site per square mile would probably be ideal in industry’s eyes.”