Thursday, December 5, 2013

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates   December 4, 2013
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                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.


I have not yet received links to the Duquesne Seminar or the League of Women Voters Seminar on fracking—both were videotaped. If anyone has this information, please forward it to me to share with the group.  


Donations- Our Sincere Thanks For Your Support!
The Paluselli family
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. 


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 and actions are active.

***Wetlands and Streams –Unlimited Impacts

From PA Forest Coalition

“This is big.  It almost went under the radar -- It would allow virtually unlimited impacts to wetlands and streams from "temporary" (up to 2 years) activities that currently need an Individual Permit.

 The PADEP has proposed to modify and reissue Chapter 105 General Permit 8.

 Public comments on this proposal are being accepted until 10 January 2014.

 Comments can be emailed to:


For USPS :

         Kenneth Murin, Chief

         Division of Wetlands, Encroachments, and Training

         PADEP Bureau of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands

         P.O. Box 8460

         Harrisburg, PA  17105-8460


 Below are some "talking points" to help you get started on you message.

 Feel free to modify or tailor the comments for your own use.

Please circulate them as widely as possible.


·       The proposed modification of GP-8 is contrary to the goals of environmental protection that the PADEP is supposed to uphold.

·        It represents a veiled attempt to create an umbrella General Permit that can authorize virtually unlimited impacts to wetlands and streams from a wide range of disparate activities apparently associated with oil and gas operations, but which could be utilized by other enterprises as well.

·       The proposed modification inappropriately expands the scope of covered activities.

·       While GP-8 currently authorizes only temporary road crossings, the proposed GP-8 would also authorize temporary electric and telephone lines, water lines, and other pipelines as large as 24 inches in diameter carrying undefined “pollutional materials”

·       The proposed changes would allow "temporary testing and monitoring activities" that conceivably could encompass full-scale exploratory gas well projects.


·       The proposed GP-8 sets minimal or no limitations on the length or area of streams and wetlands that can be impacted "temporarily" (up to 2 years)

·       Sets no special restrictions on its use or eligibility in Special Protection (EV or HQ) waters,

·       Provides no mechanism to assure full restoration of disturbed wetlands and streams, and

·       Severely restricts transparency and public oversight. 


Happy holidays to the industry; humbug to our environment?

Don’t let it happen.  Act now

 R. Martin Coordinator


***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 Riverkeepers

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


***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 have placed their names on the list of the harmed when they became sick after fracking began in their area.


***New Penn Environment Video

 PennEnvironment, along with the federal organization, EnvironmentAmerica, released a new video exposé on fracking.

 You can find the video on

PennEnvironment's website,, and also here:


Narrated by Martin Sheen and filmed on location in Pennsylvania, the piece will allow public television viewers to hear from:

·         A Pennsylvania family whose well water was contaminated and granddaughter became ill after fracking operations commenced nearby;

·         Dr. Poune Saberi, who has examined health data from nearby residents and workers and believes that the numerous, documented cases of residents becoming ill near drilling operations are likely "the tip of the iceberg;" and

·         Lou Allstadt, former Executive Vice President of Mobil, explaining why he now sees fracking as inherently fraught with environmental destruction.

The segment has the potential to reach up to 60 million households this year.  In addition, we have  <> a shorter commercial-length version of the video that is being rolled out to other networks like CNN and MSNBC starting this month.  


***Pipeline/Eminent Domain Factsheet-Handout

Food and Water Watch


***Frackademia Handout-Industry’s influence on Education:


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

You can print this booklet off the site.


***Video-- Dr Ingraffea Speaks at Butler Community College

Published on Nov 22, 2013

The science of shale gas: The latest evidence on leaky wells, methane emissions, and implications for policy. A.R. Ingraffea Ph.D, P.E.; M.T. Wells, Ph.D, Cornell University; R. Santoro, R. Shonkoff, Ph.D, Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Inc. Butler Community College, Butler Pa, November 21, 2013.

The latest evidence on leaky Gas wells.



Fracking News

1.Westmoreland County—Your Air is Being Fouled

          26 New Compressor Stations and Processing plants in Westmoreland since 2008

                DEP’s Aggregation Allows ALL Stations to escape tougher pollution regs

               “More than 450 natural gas compressor stations and processing plants have been built in Pennsylvania since 2008, when Marcellus Shale gas development kicked into another, higher gear.

Collectively, the rapidly multiplying facilities emit tens of thousands of tons of pollutants a year. And the growing emissions load may eventually lead to poorer air quality, according to environmental organizations.

               Despite that emissions load, none of those Marcellus gas facilities are grouped together for permitting purposes by the state and labeled a "major source" of pollution -- a Clean Air Act designation that could require more extensive, and expensive, emission controls.

               "There are a lot of shale gas sources right now with emissions just below the 100-ton-per-year 'major source' threshold," said James Duffy, an attorney with the Clean Air Council. "They're treated as minor sources. But put together, they are major sources and the people living next to them are receiving major doses of pollution. They should demand a remedy. And that would be emissions reductions befitting a major source."

               However remedies are hard to come by, in part because of how DEP regulators apply emissions aggregation rules.

               Two years ago, the Clean Air Council appealed a state decision to grant individual permits to a Marcellus Shale gas production facility and 10 gas compressor stations linked to it by pipelines, all in Washington County. Collectively those 11 facilities, all owned by MarkWest Liberty Midstream LLC, can emit more than 900 tons of nitrogen oxides a year -- or more than three times the amount emitted by U.S. Steel's Edgar Thomson steel mill in Braddock, which is designated a major source.

               Together those MarkWest facilities also can emit more than 200 tons per year of carbon monoxide and 180 tons per year of volatile organic compounds -- pollutant emission totals well above the "major source" limit

               But the CAC in September agreed to settle its state Environmental Hearing Board appeal because MarkWest completed a new pipeline in July to another processing facility in Majorsville, W.Va., just across the Pennsylvania state line.

Because of the new pipeline -- which links to the 10 compressor stations plus five more also built by MarkWest -- Mr. Duffy said the CAC could no longer meet the adjacency part of the aggregation test.

               "Aggregation rules provide a great deal of discretion to permitting authorities," said Joseph Minott, executive director of the CAC. "And states are not taking aggregation seriously," he said. "It's something that the EPA should be looking at."

               In response to questions, Ms. Kasianowitz, DEP spokesman, said in an email that the DEP has done aggregation analysis on many shale gas facilities, but so far no bundling of facilities has been categorized as a major source. She said the department issued two aggregation rulings for facilities in the northwestern part of the state. Neither of those cases resulted in a major source determination, and the gas companies are appealing both.

               Mr. Osborne said the state has aggregated few facilities and designated none of those a major source. "The reason," he said, "is the DEP's policies are not as rigorous as they ought to be or as federal policy."

               The impact of all those emissions from growing numbers of Marcellus Shale gas compressor stations and processing facilities is masked by a steep decline in nitrogen oxide emissions from other point sources like steel mills, factories and power plants that have either closed or switched fuel from coal to natural gas, Mr. Osborne said.

               "We're not getting the improvements we should expect to see in our air quality because oil and gas emissions are hiding that progress," he said.

               According to the DEP, point source emissions of nitrogen oxides declined from 235,485 tons in 2008 to 192,275 tons in 2011. The emissions from shale gas facilities accounted for 16,542 tons of that 2011 total, or 8.6 percent. During that same four-year period, the number of shale gas compressor stations in the state increased from 42 to 347, a jump of 305 facilities.

               Since 2011, 157 additional Marcellus Shale gas compressor stations and processing plants have been built in Pennsylvania, each with the potential to add tons of nitrogen oxides to the air. If each of those compressor stations emitted 95 tons of nitrogen oxides a year, like eight of the 10 MarkWest compressors in Washington County that were the focus of the CAC appeal, they'd add almost 15,000 tons of nitrogen oxides annually, boosting the still-growing gas industry's share of NOx emissions.


               Seventy-one of those compressor stations and processing plants are in Greene and Washington counties, south and upwind from Allegheny County.

               George Jugovic, president and CEO of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, a statewide environmental organization, and a former regional director for the DEP during the Rendell administration, said the right question to ask is not what is aggregation but rather whether the existing state rule protects air quality.

               "Aggregation is a legal issue that's really beside the point. What's important for a non-attainment area is how the air can be cleaned up as quickly as possible," said Mr. Jugovic.

               "If we start backsliding on air quality because of all these new compressor stations and all the ones that are still to be built, that won't be good. Someone needs to be monitoring these sites and the state monitoring system is not set up to do that, especially in rural areas."

               The DEP has not found unhealthy air pollution levels during three short-term monitoring studies conducted near Marcellus Shale gas operations at various locations in the state in recent years. But GASP criticized those studies as limited in scope and improperly designed, and for failure to consider long-term exposure risks and cumulative health impacts from airborne particle levels and ground-level ozone formation.

               According to the EPA, even short-term exposure to nitrogen oxides can impair respiratory health, causing throat and lung inflammation and exacerbating asthma. It can also lead to higher concentrations of airborne particulate matter.

               But early signs that emissions from Marcellus Shale operations are already degrading regional air quality may be showing up at the Allegheny County Health Department's air quality monitor in South Fayette, said Jim Thompson, the county's air quality program director.

               The monitor, on the southwestern edge of the county, is near the myriad shale gas facilities in Washington County, according to Mr. Thompson, and its measurements of ground-level ozone, formed from NOx emissions and a component of unhealthy smog, have been creeping up. "It's downwind from the MarkWest facilities in Houston. We can't say yet, for sure, if it's a significant trend, but it's something we have our eye on," Mr. Thompson said.

               The Houston processing plant emits pollutants from several gas heaters, seven 30,000-gallon gas storage tanks, a truck-loading operation and several refining facilities. It operates under "general permits" issued by DEP, including those issued two years ago that were the object of the Clean Air Council appeal.”

By Don Hopey, Post Gazette


Read more:


2.  Pipelines Coming to SW PA   And that Means Compressor         Stations, Processing Plants, and Tons of Pollution

Comment from Group member:  “PAY ATTENTION, PEOPLE!  There are FIVE PIPELINES slated to converge in the SW/W PA area.   They are interstate pipelines.  That means we will likely be headed for eminent domain and large processing plants and compressor stations in the area.

               No one is paying attention to this and it’s making me crazy!  If we stop the pipelines, we can cripple the industry. 

 Most of these pipelines, even the ones that cross state lines, will not be reviewed by FERC.  Natural gas and all the wet gases are not covered by FERC, so in PA the only review will be an erosion and sediment control plan by the DEP.  The landmen will, and are, threatening landowners with eminent domain even though they have no right to do so.  Ignorant landowners just go ahead and sign thinking that it’s inevitable.”


Advanced pipeline projects

(Please link to the marticle to view the map. Jan)

               “Five pipeline projects are scheduled to come online by 2015 and will connect western Pennsylvania’s natural gas and natural gas liquids, including ethane, with already-established infrastructure elsewhere.

               The projects include: Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner West, which will take ethane up to petrochemical plants in Sarnia, Canada; Sunoco’s Mariner East, designed to take propane and eventually ethane to the Marcus Hook facility in Philadelphia to be shipped to market; Appalachia to Texas Express (ATEX), built to transport ethane to petrochemical plants in Mont Belvieu, Texas; Bluegrass, which will take mixed natural gas liquids to facilities in Louisiana and Texas; and a project by MarkWest Energy Partners and Kinder Morgan Inc. that will transport mixed liquids to Mont Belvieu.

               The five pipelines together are anticipated to take an estimated 710,000 barrels per day of natural gas and liquids to Canada, the East Coast and the Gulf Coast. Each pipeline will also have the capability of expanding capacity in the future.

In particular, the Gulf, where the petrochemical industry is well-established and chemical companies are expanding facilities to accept more of the feedstock originating from the Marcellus and Utica shales, has two huge advantages over western Pennsylvania: experience and pre-built infrastructure.

               MarkWest is looking to capitalize off this and  is directly involved with four of the five pipeline projects: Mariner West, Mariner East and ATEX are all slated to start at MarkWest’s Houston, Pa., processing facility, where ethane is stripped out of the gas stream, while the company is also teaming with Kinder Morgan to build a pipeline that would move mixed natural gas and liquids from Eastern Ohio to Mont Belvieu.

               “Longer-term, the Gulf Coast has unparalleled NGL infrastructure,” said Kevin Hawkins, investor relations manager for MarkWest Energy.

“There are six or seven world-class olefin petrochemical crackers to go in service between now and 2017 or 2018. The Gulf Coast is still the domestic leader with petrochemicals.”

               One of the companies expanding ethane manufacturing in that region is Dow Chemical. The firm uses the oil equivalent of 850,000 barrels a day in its manufacturing, said Peter Molinaro, vice president and senior advisor on government affairs for the company, and is building its new capacity in the Gulf where it already has heavy investment.

               “Like anything else in commodities there is only so much that can be built, and the chemical industry has overbuilt in the past,” he said at a recent energy and manufacturing symposium in Pittsburgh.

                New crackers and cracker expansions are underway along the Gulf in anticipation of the increased supply. Chevron, he noted, already has permits for a cracker in Texas, and Dow and Exxon are in the permitting process. “They are all neck and neck in the race,” he said. (Shell, meanwhile, is still in the exploratory phase for the Beaver County site, trying to decide whether it will build a cracker there).

It’s a solution and dilemma, he said, since pipelines and associated pipelines can be built in 18 to 24 months, while an ethane plant can take four to six years.

“Supply will outstrip demand for some time,” he said.

               The pipelines are coming online because the ethane and the liquids have to go somewhere, said Matt Curry, director of business development for Range Resources. He wouldn’t comment on whether Range has any commitments with Shell for the proposed cracker, but said the company would love to see the project built.

“There are no ethane users in the area,” he said, adding the region is constrained with limited options. Producers need to remove ethane from the gas stream or else the gas can exceed distribution pipeline specifications, and as more ethane-rich gas is produced, the liquid needs a home.

               If Shell doesn’t move forward with its project, it doesn’t mean the region will be without a cracker since there are other projects in the works to build smaller-scale crackers in West Virginia. This includes Aither Chemical’s plans to build a catalytic ethane cracker in West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley. However, without a world-scale project, it’s unclear if the petrochemical industry will set down the roots in the region that economic development groups want to see.

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, which is working to ensure Shell does indeed build here, declined comment for this story, citing nondisclosure agreements with the oil company. Earlier this year, PRA President Dewitt Peart noted that even if Shell doesn’t build, the raw material doesn’t go away and other companies would be interested in the Beaver County site. As Range’s Curry noted, the ethane has to go somewhere.”


3. Deer Attracted to Drill Sites

(According to the Game Commission, there has been no testing of deer in Pa for heavy metals, chemicals or radioactivity, even near known spill areas or leaking frack pits. WVA has done testing where the waste was dumped in forestland; in Pa we have accessible frack pits, spills and leaks.  The PA Game Commission apparently considers it a non-issue. jan )

               Hunters have long known deer love salt. In Pennsylvania it’s illegal to put out salt licks to try to attract deer. But there are still salty spots deer find on their own.



               One of those places can be gas-drilling sites. The brine water that comes back up after fracking (known as flowback) can be as much as 10 times saltier than seawater. It can also contain heavy metals and radioactive materials.

The DEP acknowledges that brine spills large and small do occur, and they have not studied its impacts to wildlife.

               Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau says they haven’t studied gas drilling’s impact on deer either, but anecdotally, brine is not much of an issue.

               U.S. Forest Service soil scientist, Mary Beth Adams, has studied deer’s attraction to the salt left behind in the soil at reclaimed drilling sites in West Virginia, which has less stringent regulations related to flowback. She recently spoke with StateImpact Pennsylvania about her research.


Note: this interview has been edited for length and clarity

Q: What do we know in terms of how this affects the food system?

A: There’s relatively little research in general on the effects of natural gas development. I’m not familiar with much research on the effects of wildlife or even on vegetation. It simply hasn’t been done. The pace of development is outpacing the research.

Q: What kind of work do you do?

A: The Forest Service manages land. I’m part of the research division. I do research to help people understand how ecosystems work, how they behave when they’re stressed, and how to manage them better for a variety of uses.

The research I described here was based on our experience on the Fernow Experimental Forest, which is a research forest.  A conventional gas well was developed on the Fernow, and we looked at the impacts after the development of the gas well.

Q: What did you find? There was a lot of dead vegetation, right? Was flowback sprayed on it?

A: Right. In West Virginia it is permissible to apply flowback fluids to the land as long as they meet state regulations. [Note: this is illegal in Pennsylvania] You actually get a permit to do that. But the permit standard is a concentration standard, not a dose standard.

So for example, you can get a brief whiff of hydrogen sulfide and that’s not going to be toxic to you as a human being. But if you are exposed to a huge amount of it, even if the concentration’s the same, it’s more dangerous. It’s like medicine.

What we found was the concentration standard did not protect the forest vegetation. What happened was too much [flowback fluid] was applied on too small an area. And it was mostly the salts –calcium and sodium chloride– that negatively affected the vegetation. It was affected first through immediate contact, but then by uptake and also the physiological function of the trees.

Q: Can you describe what you found with deer populations near gas development?

A: Deer have a requirement as they come out in spring in early summer; they need more minerals. The deer are attracted to natural minerals sources, like salt.

In this case, where the flowback pond had been there were salts near the surface and they were leaching out in a small spring. So the deer were attracted to it. It brings the deer in from a great distance around, and it concentrates them.

Q: So if they’re eating salt, that doesn’t sound too concerning.  Could there be an issue with the quality of the venison?

A:  It depends on what else is in there. The salts themselves — sodium and calcium chloride– are part of the salt blocks people put out to attract deer. We all eat sodium chloride in our meals.

But there are other constituents that are probably associated with those salts. The deer may be ingesting those as well– the heavy metals and the radionuclides. We don’t know. There’s been so little work done on what’s in there. And then how it moves through the ecosystem. Maybe it all leaches out quickly. Probably it doesn’t. But we don’t know that.

Q: So for avid hunters, is this something they should be aware of?

A: It would be really good if the Food and Drug Administration or somebody who does public health research could look at this. It would be relatively easy to do some simple [sampling]. But the states are not going to have the funding to do that, and I’m not aware the federal government is doing that.

Q: Anything else?

A: Just that the gas boom has moved so quickly, [and] the research is way far behind the development of the resource. We do this over and over again. We find something that’s wonderful– usually related to energy– and we just rush ahead without thinking about what the impacts are. We did it with coal, we’ve done it with oil, we’re doing it with gas, we did it with nuclear.

It would be nice if humans were a little less impetuous and that we would actually think about what might be the potential impacts and do some research before we run away with it, but I think it’s probably human nature.


4. Six-State Study Confirms- Job Numbers Exaggerated by              Fracking Industry

                “Drilling in the six states that span the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations has produced far fewer new jobs than the industry and its supporters claim, according to a report released  by the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative, a group of state-level research organizations tracking the impacts of shale drilling.

               “Industry supporters have exaggerated the jobs impact in order to minimize or avoid altogether taxation, regulation and even careful examination of shale drilling,” said Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York.

               Shale drilling has created jobs, particularly in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and cushioned some drilling-intensive areas in those states from the worst effects of the Great Recession and the weak recovery. As this report documents, however, the number of shale jobs created is far below industry claims and remains a small share of overall employment.

               “Shale drilling has made little difference in job growth in any of the six states we studied,” said Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center in Pennsylvania. “We know this because we now have data on what happened, not what industry supporters hoped would happen.”

               Recent trends are consistent with the boom and bust pattern that has characterized extractive industries for decades. It also points to the need for state and local policymakers to collaborate to enact policies that serve the public interest.

               “West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio have a long history with the ‘resource curse’ of coal and oil extraction that has provided wealth for a few but left a legacy of environmental degradation and poverty in their wake,” said Herzenberg. “Pennsylvania and its neighbors must not repeat the mistakes of the past.”


Key findings from the new report include:

*Between 2005 and 2012, fewer than four new direct shale-related jobs have been created for each new well drilled, much less than estimates as high as 31 direct jobs per well in some industry-financed studies.

* Region-wide, shale-related employment accounts for just one out of every 795 jobs. By contrast, education and health sectors account for one out of every six jobs.

* Job growth in the industry has been greatest (as a share of total employment) in West Virginia. Still, shale-related employment is less than one percent of total West Virginia employment and less than half a percent of total employment in all the other states.

* Many of the core extraction jobs existed before the emergence of hydrofracking.

Together, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia had 38 percent of all producing wells in the country in 1990 and 32 percent in 2000.

Some counties with a long history of mineral extraction have experienced a shift in employment from coal to shale extraction.

* Industry employment projections have been overstated.

 Some industry supporters have equated “new hires” with “new jobs” and attributed ancillary job figures to shale drilling even when they have nothing to do with drilling.

* Industry-funded studies have used questionable assumption in economic modeling to inflate the number of jobs created in related supply chain industries (indirect jobs) as well as those created by the spending of income earned from the industry or its suppliers (induced jobs).

* Drilling is highly sensitive to price fluctuations, which means that job gains may not be lasting.

* In some counties, employment gains have been reversed as drilling activity shifted to more lucrative oil shale fields in Ohio and North Dakota.

Direct shale-related employment across the six-state Marcellus/Utica region fell over the last 12 months for which there are data—the first quarter 2012 to the first quarter 2013.

               “While shale development has been important to West Virginia’s ongoing economic recovery, it is less than one percent of the state’s employment mix,” said Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy. “This means policymakers need to make the important public investments in higher education and workforce development that will diversify our economy and make it stronger over the long-term.”

“To paraphrase John Kennedy, policymakers approaching shale issues should ‘ask not what you can do for your gas company, ask what you can do for your state,’” said Mauro







Appalachian Pipeline That Runs Under Mon River (Bob Donnan)


5. Pipeline Extension Project Through PA and Into           Delaware

 Nov 21 - The Brooke County Commission agreed to allow crews with Sunoco Pipeline to survey 29 acres. The company is investigating the possibility of building a pipeline to transport liquid petroleum from Harrison County through the Northern Panhandle across Pennsylvania and into Delaware.

               A South Huntingdon, Pa., family has filed a suit against Sunoco in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court in an effort to prevent the company from obtaining right of way through their property by eminent domain.”


***Pipeline/Eminent Domain Factsheet-Handout

Food and Water Watch


6. Frackademia Factsheet

The Selling Out of Higher Education

Food and Water Watch

An extensive review of research projects funded by “Big Oil” companies revealed insufficient academic control by universities, a lack of peer review and undue industry influence in choosing research proposals. Not surprisingly, many oil and gas industry-funded academics are promoting shale gas development through the controversial practice of fracking.

               Moreover, the industry has been providing funding for studies, professorships and capital improvements and is now looking to expand even further by undertaking fracking on an increasing number of college campuses. This can cause health and environmental risks for students and the surrounding community, and also calls into question the objectivity of findings from these institutions.

                              There are multiple well-documented examples of pro-fracking studies where the source of funding was not disclosed or authors have professional connections to the oil/ gas industry that were unknown prior to publication. Such incidents have led Cary Nelson, past president of the American Association of University Professors, to call the lack of disclosure in industry-sponsored shale gas research “troubling.”

               For example, Timothy Considine, a former Penn State professor, current director of the University of Wyoming’s Center for Energy Economics & Public Policy and president of Natural Resource Economics, Inc., is a notorious figure in the world of frackademia, often at the center of controversy with his many pro-fracking studies. Considine was lead author of a 2009 Penn State study that predicted a 30 percent decline in drilling if a new severance tax on fracking and drilling was implemented in Pennsylvania.

               The study was cited in debate around the tax proposal, which ultimately failed. After Considine issued a second study in 2010, a group called both reports into question, citing inflated job estimates and the absence of sponsorship information. Subsequently, the dean of the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences retracted the original version of the study, acknowledging that it was funded by the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a pro-industry group comprising nearly every major fracking company. He called the omission of the sponsor a “clear error.”

               Just as the Marcellus Shale Coalition funded Considine’s controversial Penn State studies, in 2011 MIT released The Future of Natural Gas, a study funded by BP and Shell, among others, that concluded unsurprisingly that natural gas was a “bridge to a low-carbon future.”

For the handout:


Penn State Bias on Shale Industry Addressed by Bob Donnan

Slide from my Power Point presentation to the Pittsburgh Press Club a couple years ago while on a 3-member panel with Katie Klaber and Vidic. An audience member told me afterwards that Katie got more nervous the longer I presented




 Frackademia to Study North Texas Fracking   Earthquakes

               “In 2009, I started writing about how closely the fracking industry resembles the tobacco industry. They use the same playbook and even trade players. And the fracking industry has its very own version of Joe Camel. Source Watch has chronicled many Frackademia scandals in the U.S.

               Now NBC5 tells us that Frackademia, TCU’s Energy Institute, will team up with what has been called the most corrupt of the corrupt regulatory agencies in Texas, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), to study the cause of the most recent outbreak of earthquakes in North Texas.” 


7.         25, 000 Workers Exposed to Silica

               “At least 1.7 million US workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica each year, according to  NIOSH. But, NIOSH has also written because there are no surveillance data, the problem is probably greater than this number suggests.  Almost certainly undercounted in these estimates is the extent of workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica in hydraulic fracturing operations – a recent estimate suggests that silica exposures may affect at least 25,000 fracking industry workers, more than 60% of whom may now be excessively exposed.”


8.  DEP Emails Obtained by PA Open Records

            Published by JesseWhite

MarkWest says the emission of black plumes of thick smoke are a normal part of their operations

               “Mark West Liberty Midsterm and Resources, LLC(MarkWest), Houston

Gas Plant, ChartiersTownship, Washington County:

On July14, MarkWest brought a new de-ethanizer on-line, resulting in several visible emission episodes of thick black smoke. DEP received numerous complaints and inspected the facility on July 15 and July 16 and observed no opacity violations since the events were sporadic. MarkWest attributes the visible emissions to the flaring of natural gas liquids and stated that the unit is operating as designed, that the public was never at risk and it will continue to work with DEP to evaluate the issue and take the necessary steps to minimize the potential of similar events. “


9. Fracking-Friendly Bills Flourish as Industry Donations           Skyrocket 231%

               "A wave of legislation friendly to the fracking industry in the House of Representative appears to be following skyrocketing donations from the fossil fuel industry. A Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington report this week reveals that from 2004 to 2012, oil and gas industry contributions to Congressional campaigns climbed 231 % in fracking states and districts.     Several bills passed in Congress this week suggest these contributions are paying off. In a landslide 252 to 165 vote, the GOP-controlled House rammed through the fracking industry friendly HR 1900 on Thursday that would fast-track pipeline construction if signed into law. It follows two other bills passed in the House earlier this week that would make it easier to get fast permits for oil and gas drilling on federal lands and roll back federal fracking regulations.

               While none of these bills is expected to advance in the Senate, critics charge they nonetheless reveal a Congress hijacked by the fracking industry. "This week, House Majority Leadership showed that they’ll sacrifice just about anything for the oil and gas industry, whether it’s the hunters and fishermen who enjoy using our public lands, parents trying to protect their children from the health impacts of fracking, even the rights of property owners along proposed gas pipeline projects," said Earthjustice Senior Legislative Representative Jessica Ennis."


 Targeted Congressmen Bankrolled by the Fracking           Industry-

80% To Republican Candidates

By Molly Redden Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

               The growing fracking industry is “yielding gushers” of campaign donations for congressional candidates — particularly Republicans from districts with fracking activity — according to a new report from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.


The report, “Natural Cash: How the Fracking Industry Fuels Congress,” examines 2004 to 2012. In that time, contributions from companies that operate fracturing wells and fracking-related industry groups rose 180 percent, from $4.3 million nine years ago to about $12 million in the last election cycle.




               These donations are flowing to members of Congress at a time when some legislators are trying to increase regulation of fracking. The most serious of these legislative efforts is the FRAC Act.  Introduced in 2009, the act would require EPA regulation of the industry and would force fracking companies to disclose the chemicals that they inject under high pressure into the ground. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill are stalled in committee.

               So far, the industry has successfully fended off almost all federal regulation of fracking,” CREW’s reports. The biggest increase in donations from the fracking industry came between 2010 and 2012, when Congress was particularly active on fracking issues.

               Candidates from districts where fracking is concentrated — CREW identifies 94 such districts — experienced the biggest windfall.  The industry’s political contributions to those candidates rose 231 percent, from $2.1 million to $6.9 million. That’s nearly twice the increase in their contributions to senators and members of Congress from districts without any fracking activity. CREW identified ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Chesapeake Energy as the industry’s three largest donors.

                              Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) was head and shoulders above his fellow candidates in donations from the fracking industry. Barton accepted more than half a million dollars — $100,000 more than any other candidate. In the past, he chaired the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and he sponsored legislation in 2005 to exempt the fracking industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act. A version of that bill became law and prevented the EPA from exercising key oversight over fracking activity.

               Republicans in general benefited from the industry’s largesse far more than Democrats. “Nearly 80 % of fracking industry contributions to congressional candidates went to Republicans,” the report notes. Republican candidates from fracking districts saw their donations from this sector go up 268 %. According to the report, only six of the top 50 recipients of fracking industry contributions among current members were Democrats.” Only one Democrat — Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana — cracked the top 10 list of fracking money recipients.”


10.  Exposure to Air Pollution During Pregnancy Linked to           Infant Heart Defects

(You will recognize some of the listed air toxins as those used and emitted in the fracking process. Jan)

               Children’s congenital heart defects may be associated with their mothers’ exposure to specific mixtures of environmental toxins during pregnancy, according to research presented this week at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013.


               Congenital heart defects occur when the heart or blood vessels near the heart don’t develop normally before birth. Defects may be caused by chromosomal abnormalities, but the cause is unknown in most cases.

               Congenital heart defect rates have gradually decreased in Canada since 2006, about the time the government tightened regulations to reduce industrial air emissions. The heart defect decreases were mainly associated with heart defects resulting in holes between the upper and lower heart chambers and malformations of the cardiac outflow tracts, Ngwezi said.

               Researchers examined patterns of congenital heart defects incidence and presence of environmental toxins in Alberta, Canada. The ongoing research seeks to determine if pregnant women’s proximity to organic compounds and metals emitted in the air impacts the risk of heart defects in their children.

               Although still in the early stage, this research suggests some chemical emissions—particularly, industrial air emissions—may be linked to heart abnormalities that develop while the heart is forming in the womb,” said lead researcher Deliwe P. Ngwezi, M.D., a Ph.D., student and research fellow in pediatric cardiology at the University of Alberta in Canada.

               The study is based on congenital heart defects diagnosed between 2004 and 2011 and chemical emissions recorded by a Canadian agency tracking pollutants.

               Researchers looked at three chemical categories, but only one group showed a strong correlation with rates of congenital heart defects. The group of chemicals consists of a mixture of organic compounds and metals: benzene, butadiene, carbon disulphide, chloroform, ethylene oxide, hexachlorobenzene, tetrachloroethane, methanol, sulphur dioxide, toluene, lead, mercury and cadmium.

               This study, she said, should draw attention to the increasing evidence about the impact of environmental pollution on birth defects.

Visit EcoWatch’s HE


11. Duke Study finds Radioactive Hot spots in PA           Tributaries- Indiana County

          Discharge Levels 200 X above background

(Another article on the Blacklick study, jan)


Radioactive waste discharged into rivers from shale gas operations in Pennsylvania exceed regulatory thresholds and pose an environmental risk, according to a study released by Duke University.

               The peer-reviewed study, published in Environmental Science and Technology, found that radium levels of sediment samples collected in Blacklick Creek downstream from a treatment plant in Western Pennsylvania were 200 times greater than samples upstream and background sediments. The levels exceed thresholds for radioactive waste disposal and pose “potential environmental risks of radium bioaccumulation in localized areas of shale gas wastewater disposal.” The samples were collected downstream from discharges from the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility, in Indiana County, which treats wastewater from oil and gas drilling.

               Waste from oil/gas drilling is exempt from both federal hazardous waste handling and disposal regulations and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Oversight is left up to states, including New York and Pennsylvania, which have no standards or protocol to test drilling waste for radioactive material.      The Duke study is sure to heat up a debate in both states over health risks from extracting shale gas through fracking. Researchers attempting to clarify the issues face a tall task due to a lack of public records and disclosure about chemicals used and waste produced. The Duke study is one in a small but growing field attempting to quantifying environmental hazards of shale gas development — a key requisite for gauging health risks. It will likely take years if not decades for answers that carry the weight of science, and even those will likely be debatable without mandatory disclosure requirements for the industry.

               Currently, at least five landfills in upstate New York accept drilling waste from Pennsylvania drilling operators. Landfill waste includes cuttings and mud from well drilling. Although it’s different from the effluent discharged into streams, it also tends to include high levels of radium.

               The DEP tested water downstream of some wastewater treatment plants in late 2010, and found levels to be at or below background. Tests by the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority also showed no excessive readings at intakes to its treatment plant on the Allegheny River near Aspinwall. But other studies, including one by the USGS, showed that radioactive levels tend to correspond with shale gas waste, and that tends to fluctuates depending on operators production and disposal schedules.

                              The following is from a SGR post on Feb. 2, 2013, which is relevant in light of the Duke study:

               A report by the USGS in 2011 found that high radium levels correspond with saltiness and total dissolved solids (TDS), all of which are characteristic properties of waste from Devonian shales, including the Marcellus and Utica formations underlying parts of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland. TDS is a measure of concentration of salts and other impurities dissolved in water. They are not visible to the naked eye, and they are flags for water problems apart from radioactivity.

               Concerns over hot fracking waste are not new, and they are not limited to Pennsylvania. While reporting for Gannett, I uncovered a 2008 memo from the New York State Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Conservation warning of the dangers of radioactive flowback. The memo, unreleased to the public, referenced an analysis of wastewater samples by state health officials that found levels of radium-226, and related alpha and beta radiation up to 10,000 times higher than drinking water standards. Based on that finding, the Health Department urged the DEC to design a testing protocol to ensure hot drilling waste is handled and disposed of properly. “The issues raised are not trivial but are also not insurmountable,” the memo concluded. “Many can be addressed using common engineering controls and industry best practices.”

               That is reassuring, to a degree. But what are “best practices,” exactly, and how effective are they if they are optional? For now, they are left to the discretion of operators who assure us that all is being handled properly, and to private waste plant operators who echo these reassurances.”

By Tom Wilber, Shale Gas Review



12. Does Homeland Security Think Fracktivists are Terrorists?

               According to comments made by Mark Grawe, chief operating officer at EagleRidge Energy, Denton, TX, residents who object to his company’s reckless operations way too close to their homesschools and parks are terrorists worthy of inclusion on the Department of Homeland Security’s watch list. Grawe attended a home owners association meeting in Mansfield, TX where EagleRidge has drilled and fracked several wells very close to a neighborhood, schools and playgrounds.  He appeared at the meeting with a police officer in tow. When a resident asked if the officer was for his protection, Grawe talked about a Barnett Shale Energy Education Council meeting he attended where his industry peers advised him to take security with him to community meetings because “they” have been to meetings where “it escalated.”

               Grawe went on to tell the Mansfield residents that some people in Denton are “preaching” civil disobedience and that they are on “the watch list” but not his watch list.  When another resident asked whose watch list, Grawe said “Homeland Security.”

It’s shocking to think that young families, pregnant women and retirees who don’t want to live next to a heavy industrial plant that will decrease their property value, diminish their quality of life and emit hazardous air pollutants that compromise their health would be considered terrorists. But what is more shocking is that Grawe supposedly has inside information about who is on the DHS watch list.

               If you saw Gasland Part II, you will remember that retired Air Force officer Virginia Cody was a victim of domestic spying by the DHS.

James Powers, Pennsylvania Homeland Security director contracted with an anti-terrorism contractor, Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR), to spy on gas drilling opponents. ITRR intercepted communications and tracked group members and their affiliations.

               Virginia Cody was a member of Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, a public awareness group, which is the same kind of group as Denton’s Drilling Awareness Group. Powers mistakenly sent an email to Cody that made it clear the DHS was supporting the oil and gas industry in trying to squelch opposition.

At the center of the controversy is an e-mail written by the director of the state Homeland Security Office that seemed to take sides in the Marcellus Shale gas-drilling debate.

               “We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies,” James F. Powers Jr. wrote in a Sept. 5 e-mail to Virginia Cody, an antidrilling activist in Northeastern Pennsylvania., Rendell’s office releases content of all bulletins on planned protests

               Like Denton’s Drilling Awareness Group, Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition members are not radicals nor do they participate in any illegal activities. Yet they were listed on intelligence bulletins as security threats right along with Al-Qaeda operatives.

               Equally shocking was the revelation that the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security had distributed those bulletins to local police chiefs, state, federal and private intelligence agencies, and the security directors of the natural gas companies, as well as industry groups and PR firms. 


13. WVA Gas Plant Catches Fire

(Wet gas (as opposed to dry gas) frequently is found in W VA and western PA necessitating the stripping away of propane, butane and ethane. Jan)

               The Blue Racer Midstream plant facility in Natrium, W Va remains completely shut down after part of it caught fire Sept. 21. "The plant will not restart until an emergency siren system is in place…" About 25 residents in the Kent area north of the plant were evacuated as a safety precaution.

               Wet Marcellus and Utica shale gas travels to the plant, and the ethane, butane, propane and other natural gas liquids are stripped away from the dry methane gas so all the products can be marketed individually. Upon separation from the gas stream, the propane and butane are kept in tanks on the Natrium site to be marketed. This cannot be done with ethane because of the product's volatility, so Dominion currently ships much of this product for cracking along the Gulf Coast or in Canada.”


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:  
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               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.
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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.
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