Friday, November 22, 2013

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
        November 21, 2013

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*  To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information
* Our email address:
*  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:      


WMCG     Thank You

                              * Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, Gloria Forouzan, Elizabeth Donahue, and Bob Schmetzer.

                              *Thank you to community organizer Kathryn Hilton and the Mt. Watershed for their support and assistance.


Donations- Our Sincere Thanks For Your Support!
Jan Kiefer
Mary Steisslinger
Wanda and Joe Guthrie
 Lou and Dorothy Pochet for donating to group printing costs.
Joe and Judy Evans for printing costs of fracking tri-folds.
Jan and Jack Milburn for donating to group printing costs.
Harriet Ellenberger for donating to group printing costs.




*** WMCG Steering Committee Meeting  We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg.    Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend. .


*** Shale Drilling and Public Health: A Day of Discovery Sat., Nov. 23, Heinz History Center

By League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania’s Shale and Public Health Committee Saturday November 23, 2013, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Heinz History Center, Fifth Floor Mueller Education Center,  1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA This event is free and open to the public

Speakers include Michelle Bamberger, Robert Oswald and Dr Ingraffea, Dr Brown (SWPA), Lenore Resick (PHD Duquesne Nursing)


*** Facing the Challenges Nov. 25, 26

Duquesne University Researchers present on: Air and water, Animal and Human Health, Geological, Biological investigations.


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




We are very appreciative of donations to our group.
               With your help, we have handed out thousands of flyers on the health and environmental effects of fracking, sponsored numerous public meetings, and provided information to citizens and officials countywide. If you would like to support our efforts:  
               Checks to our group should be made out to the Thomas Merton Center/Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group. And in the Reminder line please write- Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group. The reason for this is that we are one project of 12 at Thomas Merton. You can send your check to: Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group, PO Box 1040,  Latrobe, PA, 15650. Or you can give the check or cash to Lou Pochet or Jan Milburn.
               To make a contribution to our group using a credit card, go to  Look for the contribute button, then scroll down the list of organizations to direct money to. We are listed as the Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group.
               Please be sure to write Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group on the bottom of your check so that WMCG receives the funding, since we are just one project of many of the Thomas Merton Center. You can also give your donation to any member of the steering committee.



Volunteers Needed!!

Flyercise-This is a good way to work to protect your family from fracking and get exercise.

Flyering helps to inform your area.   If you want to distribute information on fracking in your neighborhood, WMCG and the Mt Watershed have handouts for you. Some rural areas are best reached by car and flyers can be put in paper boxes (not mailboxes) or in doors.  Please contact Jan if you would like to help. Meetings are also 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.


***Volunteers Needed to Map Frack Pits-     Skytruth

 You Can Support a Public Health Study By John Hopkins At Home At Your         Computer

Volunteers Needed: Crowd sourcing Project to Map Fracking in Pennsylvania for a                Public Health Study and National Mapping Initiative

(You are given a window to examine by Skytruth. . Your job is to Click on all the frack pits you see in that square and the data will be processed by Skytruth. jan)


More information to follow in next weeks UPdates

Who: SkyTruth

What: FrackFinder PA - Project Moor Frog is crowd sourcing (using the public to help do the work) project that needs cyber-volunteers to find fracking ponds on aerial photographs.

Where: Online at

Why: Data produced by the crowd will be complied into series of maps identifying the location of fracking ponds in Pennsylvania, and support a public health study with partners at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

                SkyTruth will be launching the second phase of a crowd sourcing project to map the impact of unconventional drilling and hydraulic fracturing using aerial imagery. We need your help to engage even more volunteers so that, state by state, we can build a nationwide, multi-year map of fracking.

FrackFinder is a web-based tool that presents cyber-volunteers, or skytruthers, with aerial photos of permitted or active drilling sites, and asks users to perform a simple image analysis task. In this phase of the project, we are asking volunteers to find all the fracking ponds at Marcellus Shale drilling sites in PA. Learn more about our first FrackFinder project here.

               We are doing this work to support a public health study with our partners at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins. Additionally, we have arranged to have a reporter from Wired magazine (a tech magazine with an audience of 3 million) cover the launch of the effort, which we are calling FrackFinder PA – Project Moor Frog.

               We are asking for your help to promote this sky truthing project as we get nearer to the launch. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more and to coordinate efforts to engage the public in this effort to produce a nationwide, multi-year map of the impacts of fracking.

David Manthos: Outreach & Communications Director

Office: 304-885-4581 | Cell: 240-385-6423  |”


Take Action!!

 ***As always letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public. Pick any frack topic and get it in the public eye.*** 


The following petitions are active.

***Thank  Attorney General Kathleen Kane For Protecting      Pennsylvanians

               From Penn Environment

               “For once, I think the gas drilling industry is a little scared.

Why? Because Attorney General Kathleen Kane is taking concrete steps to rein in a fracking company for their egregious illegal pollution.

In response, the drillers launched an all-out attack on the Attorney General in efforts to send a message to other elected officials who are willing to hold polluters accountable that they will be targeted.

But we aren’t afraid. We’re proud. And elected officials who stand up and do the right thing for our environment should be too. They should know that there are so many Pennsylvanians out there cheering them on.

Will you tell the Attorney General that you support her efforts to stand up to the frackers?

               Earlier this fall, the Attorney General filed criminal charges against XTO Energy for releasing illegal fracking wastewater in northern Pennsylvania--more than 50,000 gallons laced with toxic chemicals.  The pollution flowed over a local farmland and into a nearby pristine stream that feeds the Susquehanna River.  A grand jury announced that evidence made it appear that similar discharges had previously—and most likely illegally--been made at the site.

               XTO has responded by using the same tactics that the fracking companies have used to try and stifle all their critics—whether concerned citizens, academics or whistle blowers. This includes running ads criticizing the Attorney General’s actions in local newspapers, and launching an all-out PR campaign against the Attorney General’s office.

With so few advocates at the state and federal level who are willing to stand up against the frackers, we need to defend those who are standing up for every day Pennsylvanians like you and me.

               Join me in telling the Attorney General that you support her efforts and will have her back, or that of any other elected official who’s willing to put our environment first.   I hope you’ll help me encourage our Attorney General Kathleen Kane to continue to stand strong in the face of this barrage.


David Masur,  PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center Director”



***Floating Toxic Frack Wastewater Down Our Rivers?

From Earthworks

Coal barge passing Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA, on the Ohio River. Photo: Brian Young


               “Fracking creates millions of gallons of wastewater that's laden with toxic and sometimes radioactive chemicals.

               Now, the Coast Guard is considering allowing fracking waste to be shipped on barges down the Ohio River.

A special oil & gas industry loophole in national environmental law exempts its waste. The result? Fracking's hazardous waste is magically called nonhazardous, even though it can contain heavy metals or benzene.

               So if fracking waste is sent down our rivers it won't be governed by the same safeguards as other toxics. It will be treated as nonhazardous.

               Unfortunately, spills are almost inevitable -- two 2013 barge accidents have already caused serious oil spills. And when spills occur, they will contaminate the drinking water of the 3 million people who get their water from the Ohio River.”

TAKE ACTION: Tell the Coast Guard to keep fracking waste off our rivers!


***And from Delaware Riverkeeprs

Letter to Coast Guard –Don’t ship frack Waste on Barges

               “Here is a link to our webpage where you can file a letter to the Coast Guard on their proposal to allow frack wastewater to be shipped by barge in bulk on the Nation’s rivers:

This link allows you to use different ways to submit a letter—you can use a sample we have prepared or write your own in the space provided and opt for DRN to mail it in for you or you can print it out to mail yourself or click on the link to the government portal to submit.

You can also submit directly through the link in the alert below. Talking points are provided in the alert.

Getting LOTS of letters on the record is VERY important for this proposed action. We need to show that there is great public interest in order to get them to not take the “quick and dirty route” to approve this, as explained below. Numbers mean a lot so please feel free to send this alert or the link above to other lists or feel free to use any of the info or text we have provided, making it your own and send that out. We need to get people from across the nation to send in comments to show that this proposal is fraught with controversy. The deadline is short—Nov. 29.

               Delaware Riverkeeper Network is also preparing a sign-on letter for organizations to sign on to. If you are a member of a group that may want to sign on to a more detailed letter about this, please let me know by sending an email to and I will send you the sign-on letter in a few days.

Thank you!



WMCG Signed On To The Following Letter Against Waste on Barges

               From Delaware Riverkeepers

Docket Management Facility (M-30)

U.S. Department of Transportation,

West Building Ground Floor

Room W12-140

1200 New Jersey Avenue SE.,

Washington, D.C. 20590-0001

Re: Docket Number USCG -2013-0915

I request the Coast Guard not approve the proposed policy letter to permit shale gas extraction wastewater to be carried on the Nation’s rivers, including the Delaware River.  I submit these comments because I have deep interest in the protection of our rivers from pollution and consider the transport by barge in bulk of this wastewater to be a risk we cannot afford.

Millions of people drink water from these rivers.  In Pennsylvania, for instance, where shale gas extraction is speeding forward in the Marcellus, 6.2 million people get their drinking water from the Susquehanna River, 3 million from the Ohio River Basin, and 17 million people rely on the Delaware River.  A spill or accident can easily become a drinking water catastrophe and the cumulative impacts of spills, emissions, and traffic on the nation’s public health and environment, including natural ecosystems, fish and aquatic life, are huge considering the toxic and radioactive make-up if this wastewater.

I am asking you to not approve this proposed policy letter because:

Toxic and radioactive materials don’t belong on our rivers; the risk of contamination and degradation of water quality and natural values is too great.

The proprietary information about frack chemicals in the wastewater can be kept secret from the public, keeping people in the dark about what is being transported.

The waiver provision is a gaping loophole that will allow the proposed conditions to be avoided.

Testing for radioactivity and chemical analysis “may” be required but should be mandatory in all circumstances; ongoing monitoring for radioactivity or chemical release is not required but should be.

The venting provisions for tanks refer to worker safety which is important but should also be designed to measure and control emissions that could impact the public, wildlife and the environment.

How the approval to a barge owner will be implemented is too vague and puts needed regulatory enforcement and oversight at arm’s length.

Environmental analysis for the Coast Guard’s “categorical exclusion” is minimal and effective public participation is stymied.

Secondary impacts, upstream and downstream effects of this proposal should be included in a robust environmental analysis to include the extraction, production, and ground or pipeline transport of the wastewater to barge locations as well as the impacts from storage, processing or “disposal” of this waste at its temporary and/or final destination.  Alternatives to the barge carriage should also be analyzed.

The public participation process is deeply flawed due to a very short 30 day comment period (that is further reduced by holidays and a 3 day system shutdown at the website portal where comments were to be submitted), due to the lack of any public discussion of input from other agencies that have relevant responsibilities, and due to the opaque administrative procedure utilized that avoids a more participatory and transparent rulemaking process.

For these reasons, and more, I request you do not approve this policy letter, that you not proceed with a categorical exclusion under NEPA for this activity, and that you extend the public comment period to 120 days so that the public can be given needed time to provide information on the record and to influence your decision.”

 PA gas industry puts endangered animals at risk


***Tell State Reps. to Vote NO on bills that gut protections for             endangered and threatened species

`              The Pennsylvania gas industry just can’t stand any limits on its activities, even when land, air, water, and fish and wildlife are at stake. In 2012, they tried to gut municipal rights to keep gas facilities away from homes, schools, and farms. Now they want to hamstring public agencies that protect threatened, endangered, and rare species.

               Drilling (and mining) interests claim that by following science and the law, the PA Fish and Boat Commission and the PA Game Commission make it hard to develop dirty energy projects.

               Bills that could be voted on as early as this week would undermine the independence of these public agencies to implement Pennsylvania's endangered species laws. For decades, they’ve run programs to protect species like the osprey, great egret, bog turtle, and wild trout, and they’ve succeeded in protecting habitat and bringing wildlife back from the brink.


               House Bill 1576 and Senate Bill 1047 would make it much harder for the Fish and Boat and Game Commissions to protect species. All proposals to list species would be subject to a lengthy review—not by scientists or wildlife advocates, but by political appointees. The bills would also force the agencies to figure out how to save species harmed by development—not the company that actually caused the damage.

               TAKE ACTION: Tell your representatives that you oppose HB 1576 and SB 1047 and want them to vote NO when the bills come to the floor.

Thank you! Nadia Steinzor, Eastern Program Coordinator.


*** Safeguard Federal Lands from Pro-Fracking Legislation!

        “Our nation's public lands belong to all Americans, but pro-fracking members of Congress have introduced legislation to let states decide how the oil and gas industry will drill and frack our national forests, wildlife refuges, and public lands. Congress may soon vote on this terrible bill, H.R. 2728, which would turn control of dirty and dangerous fracking and drilling on our federal lands over to the states. “


***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.

Jill Wiener


*** Fossil Free Pittsburgh Petition

        “ The campaign: City of Pittsburgh: Invest in Thrive-ability - Divest from Fossil Fuel.      Add your name to this fossil fuel divestment campaign.

The divestment movement is catching on like wildfire, and with good reason: If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. We believe that educational and religious institutions, city and state governments, and other institutions that serve the public good should divest from fossil fuels.

       Every name that is added builds momentum around the divestment effort and makes it more likely for us to win.



Frack Links

*** Health Effects of Drilling with Theo Colburn-6 minutes

Short Excerpt: “Gas in not all methane-at most 82%.  The rest of the composition is short -chained hydrocarbons and benzene-like compounds. Tons per day are emitted from just one well.  Toluene comes up from the well in higher concentrations than benzene.  Toluene goes right for the brain. Workers are experiencing peripheral neuropathy which is irreversible. The government has ignored these problems completely.”



***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.




Fracking News

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


1. Orange You A'Peelin'? Guide to PA Fracking Permit         Appeals

You can print this booklet off the site.


 Here’s an excerpt:

“Before the appeal, you should…

1)       Follow oil and gas permits in your township, borough, and/or county using the PA DEP’s ENotice system: or Google “PA DEP ENotice”

2)       Comment on permit applications early, with your neighbors. Good topics may include nearby residents with respiratory illness, nearby threatened, rare, or endangered species habitat, the violations record of the company, the impact on the housing market, homeowners insurance rates, and mortgage availability, and the impact on local recreational and tourist businesses.

3)       For your comment, check for local endangered species habitat using the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory in your county. Google: “Pennsylvania PNDI” and check the GIS map and the resources report for your county to get details.

4)       If you are citing respiratory illness as a concern, it is helpful to include a doctor’s note explaining your diagnosis with your public comment.

5)       To search for and print out the violations record for any driller, use the PA DEP Oil and Gas Compliance Report, with date ranges from 01/01/2000 to present, and “Unconventional Only” selected to make sure you’re only looking at shale gas wells. Google “PA DEP Gas Compliance Report” and navigate to the report viewer. Exporting the results of your search as a PDF and printing it out for you comment, will also allow you to more easily peruse the inspector’s comments and cite them in your arguments.


Under the new Act 13 law, PA DEP has a right to deny a permit to any company with an outstanding violation. The relevant section that you should quote in your comment is Section 3211. You should encourage DEP to exercise its power, especially if the driller you are fighting has a lot of violations.


2. Well inspections Should Have Begun-  But Plan Was Not           Implemented

By Laura Legere

               “Oil and gas drillers are beginning state-mandated inspections of all of their working wells this fall, more than two and a half years after the requirement was adopted but not implemented.


The rule added to Pennsylvania's oil and gas regulations in February 2011 requires companies to inspect all of their operating wells for signs of leaks and corrosion four times a year and submit the results to the state annually.  The state touted the quarterly inspections as a vital tool for detecting potential safety or environmental impacts.

               But the inspections were postponed while the DEP addressed what its oil and gas program chief called "paperwork issues," as well as logistical concerns about how to gather and use the mountain of data to be reported about more than 90,000 operating wells in the commonwealth. Progress was also delayed by an associated project intended to assess the severity of defects that drillers might find.

               "Candidly, this process should have been completed before now," Scott Perry, DEP's deputy secretary for oil and gas management, said during an interview at his Harrisburg office.

               The so-called mechanical integrity inspections are meant to alert operators to creeping problems before they become hazards and offer DEP a way to measure changes without assigning inspectors to canvas every well.

               The DEP particularly wanted to address cases where gas channels up the cemented strings of steel casing that serve as a barrier between wells and aquifers -- a defect, according to state rules, and a documented problem in some wells. If the problems are severe, they can open pathways for gas to escape into water supplies, bubble up in streams or create an explosion risk in confined spaces.

            Companies have to monitor and report the pressure in their wells, as well as check for escaping or flowing gas, brine or liquid hydrocarbons and signs of severe corrosion. The state is not requiring companies to retrofit their wells with gauges or meters or dig out buried parts in order to report this information, although it suggests companies should renovate wells to make monitoring easier if they have the chance. According to one DEP tip sheet, "Only those components of the inspection that can be completed must be completed."While the department does not think it is necessary to assign inspectors to look at all wells each year……

            The inspection program specifically requires companies to alert the DEP immediately and take steps to fix excessive pressure or severe corrosion at a well.

            Companies are also bound by laws and rules that require them to report and remedy other problems, including spills and defective cement. But during its development, the inspection program was stalled….

The Department of Environmental Protection particularly wanted to address cases where gas channels up the cemented strings of steel casing that serve as a barrier between wells and aquifers -- a defect, according to state rules, and a documented problem in some wells. If the problems are severe, they can open pathways for gas to escape into water supplies, bubble up in streams or create an explosion risk in confined spaces.”


Read more:


3. Video:  How Does Weather Affect Fracking Pollution           Near Your Home

Environmental Health Project


4. Gas Industry-- Erosion and Sediment Threat to Trout  

               “Changes to forest habitat and the migration of soil into streams and rivers are two immediate threats fish and wildlife face from Marcellus Shale development. Paula Piatt told a group that erosion and sedimentation is the single largest threat to trout habitat from energy development in Pennsylvania. As gas production and pipeline companies clear strips and patches of forest and agricultural land, replacing them with roads, well pads and pipeline right-of-ways, the disturbed earth can run off into streams. This suspended sediment can bury trout eggs and smother the aquatic insects the fish feed on.


Habitat fragmentation, in this case the break-up of contiguous pieces of forestland, could also likely drive changes in the composition of species that live in Pennsylvania's gas country, Ms. Piatt said. To put it simply, carving a swath of road through a forest creates a new kind of habitat in what could have once been forest interior: forest edge. Trout Unlimited has a list of policy recommendations based on what it has learned, including:

               * Inspection of vehicles and equipment for invasive species and training for energy employees on how to identify them and stop their spread.

               * Limiting or halting water withdrawals from streams and rivers during fish spawning season and during the heat of the summer.

                * Posting of information on state websites detailing active drilling and pipeline sites on public lands.”




5. Measuring Landscape Disturbance From Gas Operations in 4 More PA  Counties

            Sullivan, Wyoming, Armstrong and Indiana Counties Examined


The study: "Landscape consequences of natural gas extraction in Sullivan and Wyoming Counties, Pennsylvania, 2004-2010," by, E.T. Slonecker, L.E. Milheim, C.M. Roig-Silva, and A.R. Malizia Open


          Landscape change in Pennsylvania's Sullivan, Wyoming, Armstrong and Indiana counties resulting from construction of well pads, new roads and pipelines for natural gas and coalbed methane exploration is being documented to help determine the potential consequences for ecosystems and wildlife, according to two U.S. Geological Survey reports released today.

               Using geospatial data and high resolution aerial imagery from 2004-2010, USGS researchers documented spatially explicit patterns of disturbance, or land use, related to natural gas resource development, such as hydraulic fracturing, particularly disturbance patterns related to well pads, roads and pipeline construction.

               Researchers found that in Sullivan County, 8 natural gas extraction sites resulted in more than 24 hectares of disturbance, including 2.4 kilometers (1.49 miles) of new roads and no new pipelines. In Sullivan County, disturbance is sparsely distributed along the northern edge of the county.  Most of this disturbance is Marcellus related.

               In Wyoming County, 22 natural gas extraction sites resulted in more than 59 hectares of disturbance, including 4.5 kilometers (2.79 miles) of new roads and 2.2 kilometers (1.36 miles) of new pipelines. In Wyoming County, disturbance is dispersed in the northwest quadrant of the county and is related to Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction.

               The study found that in Armstrong County, 1,912 natural gas extraction sites resulted in more than 1376 hectares of disturbance, including 515.6 kilometers (320.37 miles) of new roads and more than 63.3 kilometers (39.33 miles) of new pipelines.

               In Indiana County, 1,875 natural gas extraction sites resulted in more than 1,493 hectares of disturbance, including more than 572.1 kilometers (355.48 miles) of new roads and 71.3 kilometers (44.30 miles) of new pipelines.

               Spatially explicit data on the level of landscape disturbance -- which is geographic information systems data, mapped to a high degree of spatial accuracy -- is critically important to the long-term study of the potential impacts of natural gas development on human and ecological health.

               "These studies are part of the larger USGS evaluation of disturbance due to natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. They show the level of activity in these four counties and will help create a total picture of the level of landscape disturbance in the region in 2010," said Terry Slonecker, project lead.

               With the release of information on the four counties today, the USGS has completed analysis of landscape disturbance in 18 Pennsylvania counties.  Results of studies on 17 more counties in the state will be released in the coming months.

               Data from these reports will be used to assess the effects of disturbance and land-cover change on wildlife, water quality, invasive species and socioeconomic impacts, among other investigations.”


6. Gas Could Pose Problems For Nuclear Energy


          The Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's lobbying group, has expressed concerns about what the fracking frenzy and falling natural gas prices are doing to the nuclear industry globally.

               Richard Myers, the institute's vice president for policy development, said the closing of the Kewaunee nuclear plant in Wisconsin and the planned closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vermont next year "raise legitimate questions" about whether the natural gas boom is having a chilling effect on the nuclear industry.

               Kewaunee and Vermont Yankee are two plants that the nuclear institute believes are closing almost exclusively because of economics, not operations. Those announcements came this year with the closings of the Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida and the twin-reactor San Onofre complex in California -- the largest number of U.S. nuclear plants taken out of production in years.

FirstEnergy nuclear power plants are expected to remain online:

*  At Davis-Besse, east of Toledo, FirstEnergy Corp. is following through on its commitment to replace the plant's original pair of steam generators with two new ones next spring.

*  At Perry, east of Cleveland, FirstEnergy is moving forward with plans to apply for a 20-year license extension in 2015. Perry's license expires March 18, 2026.

*  At Beaver Valley 1 and 2, west of Pittsburgh, operating licenses were extended for 20 years in 2009. Beaver Valley 1 is now licensed through Jan. 29, 2036. Beaver Valley 2 is licensed through May 27, 2047.

               FirstEnergy replaced Beaver Valley 1's steam generator and reactor head in 2006. It is making plans to replace Beaver Valley 2's steam generator and reactor head in 2017.

               Steam generator replacement is typically the most expensive project utilities will do at nuclear plants with pressurized water reactors -- about two-thirds of American plants. The remaining plants have reactors with a boiling-water design, which do not use steam generators.”


Read more:


7. High Praise for Triple Divide

               “The new documentary, Triple Divide, details impacts like water contamination and corruption with eye-opening reports. The film covers a two-year analysis of state records and landowner interviews by investigative news nonprofit Public Herald, co-founded by Melissa Troutman and Joshua Pribanic. Actor Mark Ruffalo co-narrates the film, which features stunning cinematography and original storytelling, mostly in Bradford and Potter counties.

               “People can expect to witness a side of fracking they’ve never seen before by watching Triple Divide,” said Pribanic. The film is the first of its kind to show illegal burial of potentially radioactive waste in Exceptional Value Watersheds. It highlights new concepts regarding an issue dubbed “The Pressure Bulb” referring to the unregulated force needed to frack a well, and uncovers a ‘predrill scandal’ where the industry is allowed to dismiss its own science.

               Hard-hitting, Triple Divide is also fair. The DEP, in charge of fracking in the state, is highlighted in the film for weakly enforced regulations. Yet DEP Deputy Secretary Scott Perry told Troutman he’s seen the film and it’s very well done. “This attests to Public Herald’s journalistic integrity and ability to reach both ends of the public spectrum: community members and heads of state,” said Troutman.

               Jed Thorp of the Ohio Sierra Club said, “It’s hard to imagine anyone having a fully-informed opinion about fracking without seeing Triple Divide.” And Pennsylvania native Robert Donnan, self-described shale gas researcher, says Triple Divide is the “best movie on fracking to date [with] facts not fiction or spin.”


8. Colorado Proposes Air Quality Crackdown On Gas           Operations

Methane/VOC Regulations

 From: Office of Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)



“Proposed air regulations for oil and gas operations explicitly regulate methane emissions — a first anywhere in the nation. Under the proposal, so-called “fugitive” emissions of both volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and methane from well sites, storage vessels and compressors would be subject to frequent monitoring, with operators required to fix leaks and to keep inspection records and results.

               As written, this would be the strongest rule in the nation for leak detection and repair.  The state is breaking new ground on a whole series of measures that cumulatively will dramatically improve Colorado’s air quality and provide a model for the country.

               We expect a rulemaking to be formally launched on November 21st that will culminate in public hearings in February 2014. A nine-member panel of Air Quality Control Commissioners appointed by the governor must approve the final rules. So we have a long way to go before this becomes law, and opposition from some parts of the industry in Colorado and nationally is sure to be ferocious”.

(EDF Worked on these regulations. Jan)

************** Related News Articles


               “Under pressure to tighten air quality standards for oil and gas drillers, Colorado officials on Monday proposed the nation’s first statewide standards for methane emissions and other heightened safeguards. The proposed rules don’t require more state inspections of drilling sites. But they do recommend a system of infrared cameras to speed detection of leaks from tanks and pipelines. The monitoring has an estimated price tag to the industry of $30 million. “


               “The new regulations “reflect a real desire and a push to see something a little stronger on the health side,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, Colorado’s chief medical officer. Some local governments, such as Los Angeles County, regulate drilling methane emissions, but Colorado’s would be the first statewide standard. Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission could make the rules final by February. Health officials predicted the regulations would reduce volatile organic compounds emissions by 92,000 tons a year, a reduction of more than a third from 2011 rates. The estimated reduction represents more than so-called VOC emissions by all cars in Colorado in a year.”


9. Fracking Boom Causes Mortgage Issues


               “At least three institutions — Tompkins Financial (TMP) in Ithaca, N.Y., Spain's Santander Bank and State Employees' Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C. — are refusing to make mortgages on land where oil or gas rights have been sold to an energy company.

               Much of the land available for fracking is occupied by single-family homes and farms. If oil or gas is beneath his property, a homeowner could sell the rights to an energy firm, potentially reaping millions of dollars. That transaction could also derail a mortgage.

               The uniform New York state mortgage agreement, used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, states that "you cannot cause or permit any hazardous materials to be on your property and it specifically references oil and gas," says Greg May, vice president of residential mortgage lending at Tompkins. "That alone would make it a problem."

               The mortgage agreement says homeowners can sell an oil or gas lease to an energy firm with prior consent from a lender, but May says, "I don't know any lenders who are granting that right now."

               If Fannie Mae owns the mortgage, it's unlikely it would approve such a transfer. Fannie Mae generally does not "allow surface instruments," such as an oil rig, on property it owns, says spokeswoman Callie Dosberg. A landowner could apply for prior approval, and there "may be a work-around, but generally the agency does not approve such requests," she says.

               A greater concern for homeowners is that Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac could force the entire outstanding loan balance to become due immediately.

               Freddie Mac is within its legal authority to exercise a mortgage's "due on sale" clause if a borrower enters into a mineral-rights agreement, says spokesman Brad German. He says no "public information" is available to show if that has ever happened.

               Banks are in a bind, too, May says. On one hand, they must follow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac policies, but they don't want to add dozens of foreclosed homes to their books.

               State Employees' Credit Union said this year that it would stop making mortgages on properties that have mineral rights "severed," meaning the landowner sold the oil rights. About 80% of the credit union's $14.5 billion loan portfolio involves residential mortgages.

               Oil rigs on a piece of land would affect the values of neighboring properties, says Jim Blaine, the $27 billion-asset credit union's president.

               "You could end up where someone puts a drilling platform on that property," Blaine says. "We'd have to tell their neighbors, 'We're sorry, your property value just went down.'"

               Other big mortgage lenders with operations in fracking areas have yet to implement an outright ban. Wells Fargo (WFC) has "no blanket restrictions" on its lending policies on properties where there is oil or gas drilling, says spokesman Jim Hines.

               Fracking could have a negative influence on property values, so it is an issue all mortgage lenders should review, says Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Campaign Coordinator for Clean Water Action. A potential problem is oil leaks, which can cause water pollution, he says.

               "A lot of people in rural Pennsylvania rely on well water for their homes," Hvozdovich says. "If you have contaminated well water, you don't have a reliable drinking water source, which is going to make it almost impossible to resell the home."

               The ultimate warning sign for banks may be insurance, May says. A borrower can't get a mortgage without homeowners' insurance. "We're actually seeing insurance companies cancel [insurance] renewals when they find a [gas or oil] lease on the property," May says.”


10. Why Fracking Is a Problem for Banks

                “The rise in hydraulic fracturing is creating headaches for banks that lend to local homeowners, who risk violating government mortgage standards when they sell their property's energy rights to oil and gas companies. American Banker editors discuss the foreclosure and even environmental problems that fracking can create for lenders, and how some banks are coping.


11. John Trallo-- On Marc 1 Pipeline

               “Inergy is the parent company of Central New York Oil and Gas aka: CNYOG the same company that bullied their Marc-1 pipeline project through, and used eminent domain as a "negotiating tactic" to force landowners into: a) accepting the $2 p/linear foot they offered to put a pipeline right-of-way across their property, and/or b) forcing the pipeline on landowners who simply tried to exercise their right to say no.

               Yes, these are the same "good neighbors" the local small-time, spineless elected officials in Bradford, Sullivan, and Lycoming Counties not only supported, but stood with them against their constituents.

               Note that they claimed to support this project on the basis that this would be done with "the most stringent safety and environmental conditions" and "to reduce the Commonwealth's and the nation's dependence on foreign oil, and to increase the availability of clean-burning natural gas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." None of which turned out to be even half true. The entire Marc-1 pipeline was built using 'class one' safety and environmental standards - the lowest standards possible. The Marcellus gas is now slated for export to overseas markets in Asia via the Dominion LNG Export Terminal in Cove Point, MD, and we now know by the industry's own estimates that these pipelines will leak 8 to 10% of this 'unconventional' natural gas [i.e. methane] into the atmosphere, and methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas then CO2.   

                              Now, they [Inergy/CNYOG] are employing the same bullying and intimidation tactics in the Finger Lakes in NYS.

               The big difference between what they did in PA, and what their trying to do in NY is that the NY politicians are not as greedy and corrupt as those in PA, and the people in NY learned from what they observed in PA that this company, and this industry as a whole can not be trusted! 

               I would also like to add that Gas Free Seneca is now a member of the Shale Justice Coalition, and SJC fully supports their fight to preserve and protect the Finger Lakes against Inergy/CNYOG.”

 John Trallo

Executive Committee,

Shale Justice Coalition


Frontline Organizer,

Sullivan County Listening Project

The Shalefield Organizing Committee 



12. The Scariest Real Estate Advertisement On Craigslist

               “An unusual real estate advertisement appeared on Craigslist Tuesday. The ad starts as any listing for a rural area might, billing the property as “Heavily forested land with berry bushes and nut trees and hardwoods in rural mountainous setting with forks and creek.” But by the second sentence, it takes a surprising turn, describing land in Blaine, Kentucky that seemingly sits near or on several different dirty fuel projects:

               Free gas available and royalties. Somewhere between 80 and 125 acres. Surveyed. Lease unavailable… Radioactive soils, history of discharges to land and water including land farming, present discharges to protected waterways. Flooding due to Yatesville Dam hydrologic gate failures. Anyone with chemical sensitivies should not consider this property and its resulting oozing rashes consistent with chemical burns and breathing problems probably from air discharges from Abarta Gas Plant emissions. This property is not suitable for farm animals, pets, children, adults, fishing, swimming, hiking or farm animals. Really, it’s not suitable for building or habitation.

               It’s not suitable for 4-wheeling or hunting as above- ground corroded gathering lines that feed to the transmission line on the ridgetops are all combustible and highly flamable. Majestic old standing lumber is not safe to fell or remove due to the magnitude of the condemnation by the gathering field. The unmarked pipes are not maintained and pose a serious risk of leakage and spills. The abandoned crusty ones are very toxic.

               The ad, which totals 915 words, has no real author name listed, so it’s not clear whether it’s a stunt by a group or an individual, or a fed-up landowner making a statement. ThinkProgress reached out to the listed email address for comment, but has not yet heard back.

               Blaine, Kentucky, where the property is purported to be, and its surrounding area, is home to idled and abandoned coal mines. The town’s population plummeted from 259 to 47 between 2009 and 2010. The land is also said to be on Martha Oil Field, which is a radioactive site. It was tapped for oil in the early 1900s and later by a process of water injection, but because it lays on a shale bed with a naturally-occurring type of radiation, residents believed all of the extraction equipment used was contaminated. In 2007, they sued Ashland Oil Company for health damages. Ashland claimed the residents were overreacting, and the company has since been folded into another oil corporation.

               The ad goes into this a little bit, while also mentioning the “fracking” boom in Eastern Kentucky. It warns potential buyers “The area has lots of production wells where produced water is injected and a history of fire flooding and water flooding and hydraulic fracturing.”

               Property inside the Martha Oil Field, which covers a 50 square mile area…. Fish advisories were in effect last I checked and local surface waters are not supportive of normal things. No county water to the property at present. Three wells of public record on property. Could be more! …There may be an underground tank or two not of record. Definitely lots of leaks. Raw sewage discharged to forks and branches from adjacent properties has been a long-term practice. A pond that likely contained fracturing solution was ordered to be breached by the Corp of Engineers, spilling it down the draw into the main creek at one point. This creek is one of two main tributaries of the popular Yatesville Lake. Another mountainside earthen ram retention pond, possibly an evaporation pond of toxins (wells are immediately adjacent) could flood the entire area at any time. Aside from that, the property is gorgeous and wonderful, very pleasing to the eye.”


13. Gas Industry Funded Pro-fracking Movie 'Truthland,

               Newly surfaced income tax documents have revealed a strong connection between the  pro-fracking movie “Truthland” and lobbyists in the gas industry. Truthland was criticized by scientists for downplaying the effect fracking has on the environment, including rendering tap water undrinkable in multiple regions throughout the US.  Critics have asserted that the film was made with the intent to spread disinformation, and that the producers were effectively the employees of industry executives and lobbyists who commissioned the film to protect their own reputation.

               New evidence indicates that the ties between the fracking industry and 'Truthland' were much stronger than previously suspected. A 2012 income tax form pointed out by The Nation's Lee Fang shows the movie was funded with a $1 million grant from American Natural Gas Alliance, Inc. – an association of some of the most powerful fracking companies currently at work. Devon Energy, Apache, Noble Energy, Range Resources, XTO Energy, Southwestern Energy and Pioneer Natural Resources are all among those behind the American Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA). The 'Truthland' film website was briefly registered to an Oklahoma office belonging to the Chesapeake Energy Corporation.

 Trouble in Truthland:


14. Conservative Group Cheers ‘Fracking’ Bill

               “The conservative Americans for Prosperity is praising an effort in the House to limit the Obama administration’s power to regulate “fracking” on public lands. The legislation would block the Interior Department’s efforts to issue new rules for the controversial energy development method in states that have their own regulations. The federal rules, which are still in the works, would require that companies disclose the chemicals they use in the fracking process and set standards for water released to the surface as part of the operation.


Critics of the Interior Department’s effort say that states are best able to handle oversight of fracking operations. The House Rules Committee is meeting on Monday evening to prepare the bill, known as the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act, for the House floor. The full chamber is scheduled to vote on the legislation on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the House is scheduled to vote on a separate bill, from Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), that would make it easier for oil and gas companies to get permits to drill on federal lands.”

 Full text of Bill:”


15. In 2010 Chesapeake/Schlumberger Fined $22,000           Each In Cows' Deaths-

By Vickie Welborn

               KEITHVILLE – Chesapeake Energy Corp. and its contractor Schlumberger Technology Corp. each must pay $22,000 for violating state law in connection with the deaths almost a year ago of 17 cows at a natural gas well site.

               At the time, Schlumberger, as a contractor of Chesapeake, was performing routine fracturing of the natural gas well. LDEQ determined during its investigation that fluid leaked from the well pad then ran into an adjacent pasture after a rain.

               A Dec. 2 report by contract toxicologist Dr. June Sutherlin now posted on the LDEQ Web site concludes the cows’ deaths were consistent with and suggestive of petroleum hydrocarbon ingestion with secondary aspiration pneumonia.

               “Based on the typical period of time required for cattle to die from aspiration pneumonia secondary to petroleum hydrocarbon ingestion, it is likely that the cattle were exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons prior to April 28, 2009,” according to Sutherlin’s report.”


Bob Donnan’s Commentary:

You may have also heard similar stories around Pennsylvania, like Terry Greenwood’s story: 

**Terry’s EPA Testimony: (2:23)

**Or perhaps George Watson’s story from Greene County:


File photo by Bob Donnan: Black Angus cattle grazing near a

Washington County, Pa compressor station:




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