Friday, February 7, 2014

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates February 6, 2014

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group               Updates February 6, 2014

*  For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
*  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.

Donations- Our Sincere Thanks For Your Support!
Mike Atherton and Cynthia Walter
The Marc Levine family
The Paluselli family
Jan Kiefer
Annie Macdougall
Mary Steisslinger




*** WMCG  Meeting  We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg- next meeting Feb 11.  Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.

 Take Action!!

 ***As always letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public. *** 


Everyone Must Do This To Have An Impact
EQB Comments
            Many of us braved the cold to testify at hearings in Indiana and Washington PA. Others attended hearings in other parts of the state. The industry is out in full force. They have paid employees at every hearing-actually they have the same people sometimes reading the same statements at every hearing. It is up to us, to you, to speak for the air and water quality and property values that we feel need to be protected. My award for most unbelievable comment of the night goes to the representative from Dogwood Energy who said that the regs should be established without the input of citizens’ groups. So apparently the democratic process to drillers means only the industry speaks and they write their own rules.
We have more wells going in every day. I receive, on average, a call a week from a distraught area resident whose neighbor sold out to the industry. PA doesn't have a moratorium as do more cautious states, so these regs are critical. Zoning can help to restrict the placement of gas operations but not the "how they operate  aspect”. If fracking occurs anywhere near you, these are the regulations that govern much of that process, that, for example,  allow a toxic frack pit near your home or school or radioactive drill cuttings to be stored or buried on site.
 The PA oil/gas regs were never meant to regulate fracking. They were written for shallow gas wells and do not protect the public. Below are links to comments. You can rephrase and add your thoughts to send in a statement of your concerns.   jan


To view what other people wrote thus far: 


To view what we presented:

For talking points on the regs:  

Online Comments

                  The public is being invited to submit comments to the EQB regarding the proposed rulemaking by March 14. Along with their comments, people can submit a one-page summary of their comments to the EQB. Comments, including the one page summary, may be submitted to EQB by accessing the EQB’s Online Public Comment System at

                   Written Comments

Written comments and summaries should be mailed to Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477.

 The summaries and a formal comment and response document will be distributed to the EQB and available publicly prior to the meeting when the final rulemaking will be considered.

                   Email Comments

People can also submit comments to

 Online and email comments must also be received by the EQB on or before March 14. If an acknowledgement of comments submitted online or by email is not received by the sender within two business days, the comments should be re-sent to the EQB to ensure receipt.

 To view materials for the proposed regulation, visit and click the “Proposed Oil and Gas Regulations” button.

 Media Contact: Lisa Kasianowitz, DEP, 717-787-1323


          2 Petitions to DEP To Ban Frack Pits

***1.   Petition From Penn Environment

Dear Janice,

Here in Pennsylvania, fracking is one of the biggest threats to our communities and our environment.  In 2012 alone, the fracking industry created 1.2 billion gallons of fracking wastewater--laced with cancer-causing chemicals, contaminated with radioactivity, and polluted with heavy metals.

This toxic waste sits in exposed pits, which often leaches into our rivers and contaminates our air.

It's both disgusting and frightening.

            The DEP is taking public comment right now on a proposal to manage this fracking waste. This is our best chance to end this dangerous practice and limit fracking's damage.

Submit your comment right now to tell the DEP: Ban all fracking waste pits today.

            When a wastewater pit caught fire in Hopewell Township, flames shot 100 feet into the air and block smoke spread across the countryside. It was so bad that days later, nearby residents still couldn’t stay in their homes.

With stories like this, you would think these toxic sites would have already been banned. Leaks from pits can contaminate drinking water supplies, and evaporation of these chemicals threatens our air quality.  The pollutants pose risks for acute and chronic health impacts, from dizziness to rashes and even cancer.

There's no way to get around it: These pits are dangerous.

                We need thousands of Pennsylvanians telling the DEP to ban them all.

Take action now to ban all toxic and dangerous fracking waste pits in Pennsylvania.


David Masur

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center Director

PS. If you have friends or family who are concerned about fracking, please forward this to them. We need to get 10,000 comments in to the DEP by the end of the comment period if we’re going to ban all fracking waste pits.



***2. Petition by Ron to Ban Frack Pits To the DEP Environmental Quality Board

Hello everyone,

            Frack pits are a source of toxic waste-waters and cancer causing agents and pollute our environment through leakage, spillage, and evaporation of toxic VOCs, thus contaminating water, soil, and the air we breathe.

Frack pits are a danger to animal, plant, and human life and have no place in our Commonwealth.

In place of the frack pit, all gas operators should be required to use some form of a closed loop system for waste storage.

We, the undersigned, demand an end to the open impoundment or frack pit and demand PA place the health and welfare of its citizens above all other interests.

            That's why I created a petition to PA DEP's Environmental Quality Board, which says:

" This petition will be forwarded to the PA DEP's Environmental Quality Board that is accepting comments on proposed regulations and will demand an end to open impoundments or frack pits as they are commonly known. "

Will you sign my petition? Click here to add your name:

Ron Slabe


***Other Legislation***

From Sierra Club, Allegheny Group

Pressure continues from the gas industry to drill wherever and however they wish.

Say No to:


*** Weakening protection of endangered species


***Avoiding liability for treating acid mine pollution with fracking waste water (SB411)


***Fracking and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  ACTION: Tell President Obama that no trade agreement should pave the way for increased fracking.




            Five Congressional bills, the Frack Pack, would force the industry to follow the environmental laws that protect our air and water.

These are all issues that we ordinary citizens can help control, by speaking out and writing to our elected officials.

***Petition to Protect Deer Lake Park Allegheny County

sign the CREDO petition to stop the fracking of Allegheny County’s Deer Lake Park. You and over 3,500 others are making a difference.  Your voices are being heard on the Allegheny County Council.

            In order to keep you informed of events, as they are about to unfold in the County Council, I ask that you take the time to visit the Protect Our Parks web page.

 By signing up at Protect Our Parks you’ll provide POP with the ability to mobilize Allegheny County residents who’ve already signed the CREDO petition. I hope you can do this today!

            In the coming weeks, the Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald intends to present legislation to the County Council that would enable the leasing of gas rights in Deer Lakes Park to notorious drilling operator, Range Resources - the only driller to submit a proposal to the County.

            We certainly appreciate the support of non-county residents as well. I invite you to sign on to the Protect Our Parks page too!  However, the County Council has stated that they will give greater weight to the opinions of the citizens of Allegheny County.  It looks like it will be a very close vote.  If you live outside of the county and have friends and/or family in Allegheny County, I hope that you will reach out to them and ask them to sign up with Protect Our Parks.

            Widely circulating the Protect Our Parks link on social media is also very much appreciated.

 I am depending upon you to help put a stop to the fracking of our county parks.

 I do hope you will continue to be a part of this effort.  Please, go to the Protect Our Parks link today - sign up and, together, we’ll protect our parks!


 Douglas Shields

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania http:

P.S. Be sure to visit the PROTECT OUR PARKS homepage!



Frack Links

***Concerned about the air quality in your community due to drilling?—Speaker Available

 Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project will provide a professional speaker if you host a community meeting. “Tyler Rubright is available throughout the next couple of weeks to come to meetings and present and/or help to facilitate and answer any questions.”

 Contact Jessa Chabeau


***Energy Industry Runs Roughshod Over North Dakota-Video

Rachel Maddow reports on recent oil disasters in North Dakota and how accountability is sacrificed for fear of discouraging energy industry.


***Profiles in Environmental Leadership: Jesse White

Video of  fracking  with interviews


***Video:  Hidden Financial Dangers of Fracking-- 16-25 % drop in Property Value--Two Studies cited in the video: Property values drop if you have a water well and live within 1 km of a gas well, property values drop by 16%:  Denver study if you live near a well values drop by 25%. 

            Reuters recently told the story of one Los Angeles man who blames Freeport McMoRan  (NYSE: FCX) for the fact that his property's value has plummeted, leaving him unable to sell his house for anything near what he bought it for.  Brian Stoffel discusses how those who hold out are being hurt, and what they are threatening to do. Lawsuits are being filed by affected landowners.


***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.


*** Link to the Duquesne Seminar:

    Mediasite presentation -- Facing the Challenges Conference, Duquesne University, November 2013

   List of Presentations:

   Bain - Establishing a Water Chemistry Baseline for Southwest Pennsylvania: The Ten Mile Creek Case

Bamberger, Oswald - Impacts of gas drilling on human and animal health: updates

Boufadel - The potential for air migration during pneumatic drilling: Recommendations for best performance

Brittingham - The effects of shale gas development on forest landscapes and ecosystems

Brown - Understanding exposures from natural gas drilling puts current air standards to the test

Capo, Stewart - Isotopic signatures as tracers for shale gas fluids

Christopherson - Why local governments take action in response to shale gas development

Collins - Regulatory structures for reuse and disposal of shale gas wastewater

Drohan - How fracking technology is changing landscapes compared to past resource extraction disturbance

Grant - Marcellus shale and mercury: assessing impacts on aquatic ecosystems

Howarth - Shale gas aggravates global warming

Ingraffea - A statistical analysis of leakage from Marcellus gas wells in Pennsylvania

Jackson - Water interactions with shale gas extraction

Jansa - Gas Rush Stories

Kelso, Malone - Data inconsistencies from states with unconventional oil and gas activity

Porter - Impact of Marcellus activities on salamanders and fish populations in the Ten Mile Creek watershed

Rabinowitz - Health complaints, water quality indicators, and proximity to gas wells in Washington County PA

Robinson - Air Quality and Climate Issues with Natural Gas Development and Production

Stolz - The Woodlands: a case study of well water contamination related to unconventional shale gas extraction

Stout - Wheeling, West Virginia Experience with Frackwater: What "Brinewater" and "Residual Waste" Trucks are Really Carrying

VanBriesen - Challenges in assessing effects of shale gas produced water on drinking water treatment plants

Ward - Measuring the human and social service impacts of natural gas development

Ziemkiewicz - What does monitoring in the three rivers tell us about the effects of shale gas development?


 All articles are excerpted or summarized. Please use links to read more.


Fracking News

1. Gas Lease Debate Over Murrysville Park

 Jan 25 – Drilling in a community park could rake in millions of dollars for the Murrysville, but residents need to weigh the risk versus the reward, officials said.             On Wednesday, municipal officials confirmed that Monroeville-based drilling company Huntley & Huntley has offered $2,250 per acre for the right to drill under 260 acres of Murrysville Community Park in addition to 12.5 percent of the royalties earned from selling whatever gas is extracted. By mid-April, officials will review an ordinance that would allow the municipality to seek bids for the gas rights. However, officials said that they hope residents petition for a referendum on the November ballot to allow residents their say.

                “The citizens are the best ones to make the decision,” Councilman Dave Perry said. “Is it worth doing?” Some residents don't think so. The park was placed in the municipal drilling district in 2010, when officials developed its drilling ordinance, resident Leona Dunnett said that at the time, officials offered assurances that the municipality would have more control over the park if it was in the drilling district.”


Murrysville Council wants referendum vote on park drilling

            “Hillebrand said his company welcomes community input regarding the future of shale-drilling in the municipality.

“We invite that debate and the input of the community,” Hillebrand said. “I live in Murrysville. My kids go to school there and play soccer at the Murrysville Community Park. This isn't just a Huntley opinion — all of the community needs to chime in for the community park.”

                Murrysville chief administrator Jim Morrison said he hopes residents will get involved.

                “Council feels the input of the residents of the community is paramount in helping guide an appropriate course of action on this very important issue,” Morrison wrote in an email.

                The park, located along Wiestertown Road, is one of two parks included in the municipal drilling district. No shale-gas drilling has occurred in the municipality.

                According to council documents, members of a residents committee would work to obtain the signatures from at least 20 percent of the 4,137 residents who voted in the last election so that a referendum could be placed on the November general-election ballot. The group also would help educate other residents on the positives and negatives of leasing the gas rights and develop the yes/no question that will ultimately decide whether council will allow competitive bidding for the rights.

                Jim Montini, director of the Westmoreland County Bureau of Elections, said most requirements for the referendum are set by Murrysville's home-rule charter.”


2. NPR Report--How Fracking Fuels Prostitution and Organized Crime in Bakken Shale Region

From a fiery oil train crash in December, crude oil spill in September and growing concerns of flared natural gas, North Dakota continues to make headlines.

Yesterday, National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition report, Booming Oil Fields May Be Giving Sex Trafficking a Boost, shows how drinking, drugs, prostitution and organized crime are major concerns in the Bakken Shale region of North Dakota.


3. Big Pipelines and Compressor Stations…

 From Kathryn, Mt Watershed (from Pa. Bulletin):

            “On February 24, 2013, Texas Eastern filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Docket No. CP13-84-000 under Section 7(b) and (c) of the Natural Gas Act (NGA)……. The proposed facilities would consist of approximately 33.6 miles of 36-inch-diameter (yard stick size) natural gas pipeline comprising seven separate pipeline loops and associated facilities and horsepower (hp) upgrades at four existing compressor stations in Pennsylvania. Additional piping modifications and maintenance would occur at sites within Pennsylvania to accommodate bi-directional flow.

                The four existing compressor station upgrades proposed in Pennsylvania are as follows: the Uniontown Compressor Station in Fayette County; the Delmont Compressor Station in Westmoreland County; the Armagh Compressor Station in Indiana County; and the Entriken Compressor Station in Huntingdon County.

            The pipeline facilities are loops that are collocated with existing natural gas pipelines except for 0.2 mile along the Perulack East Loop. This segment of the Perulack East Loop has been sited away from the existing right-of way due to a combination of steep vertical and horizontal slope areas. The proposed Project’s pipeline facilities in Pennsylvania new loops of 36-inch diameter piping as  follows: Holbrook Loop, 6.7 miles, Fayette County; Perulack West Loop, 2.7 miles, Perry County; Perulack East Loop, 5.4 miles, Perry County; Shermans Dale Loop, 7.1 miles, Dauphin County; Grantville West Loop, 2.3 miles, Lebanon County; Grantville East Loop 3.8 miles, Lebanon County; and the Bernville Loop, 5.6 miles, Berks County. The project also includes various aboveground facilities, including pig launchers, pig receivers, and valves, that would be constructed to support the pipeline system expansion in Pennsylvania at these new loops.”


4. Southwest PA Environmental Health Has Air Monitors

From Ryan Grode at the SWPA-EHP:

                “I am beginning a distribution of new air quality monitors for individuals who are living near any type of drilling activity.  If you know of anyone who would want to have one of these monitors at their home I would visit them and set up the monitor for them, then come back in a few weeks to pick up the monitor and perhaps our nurse practitioner will join me and conduct an exposure assessment on the family.

   If you hear of anyone who would like help dealing with issues because of drilling please refer them to me. The office number is 724-260-5504. As mentioned I'll personally be able to go out to see the family and speak with them and possibly set up air quality, water quality, and possibly in the future soil quality monitors.”


5. North Dakota To Cut Flaring

             “Faced with growing criticism and lawsuits, an oil industry task force representing hundreds of companies in North Dakota pledged to make an all-out effort to capture almost all the natural gas that is being flared in the Bakken shale oil field by the end of the decade.

                The gas being flared as a byproduct of a rush of oil drilling releases roughly six million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, roughly equivalent to three medium-sized coal plants. Because of a lack of gas-gathering lines connecting oil wells to processing plants, nearly 30 percent of the gas flowing out of the wells has been burned as waste in recent months.

                The task force reported to the North Dakota Industrial Commission, the state regulator, that the industry could in two years improve the percentage of gas captured to 85 percent, from 70 percent, and to as much as 90 percent in six years.”


6. Letter to the Editor by David Ball- Peters Township Council 

            Local zoning law protects residents

            “In his recent article in the Energy Report, Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Kotula bemoans the fact that Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court struck down parts of Act 13 as unconstitutional.

                What part of “unconstitutional” does he not understand? If a law is unconstitutional, it cannot exist. The citizens of Pennsylvania have rights and they are protected by our Constitution. Among those rights are the right to health, safety and welfare and the right to not have their rights infringed upon by others. That’s what zoning does; it allows activities to be grouped in designated areas with similar activities so one person’s rights don’t infringe upon another’s. Zoning assures planned and orderly development. It protects property values.



One of the 12 parts of Act 13 that were challenged as unconstitutional was the delusional concept that one set of zoning regulations could be imposed upon every municipality in the state, one that allowed an industrial activity such as gas drilling and frack ponds, and that, not knowing the specifics of each community, such a zoning law would not infringe on the rights of the citizens who own property and homes in those municipalities. It allowed one industry to trump the rights of the citizens.

                Kotula goes on to say that striking down parts of Act 13 “has placed gas drilling under a cloud of regulatory uncertainty.” How so? They must operate exactly as they have operated from the time the first well was drilled, because those parts of Act 13 never were in effect and now never will be. Nothing changed. The industry has drilled more than 8,000 wells and permitted many thousands more without Act 13. There is a glut of gas on the market. They have not been impeded.

                Kotula raises the specter of de facto moratoriums, litigation and slow-walking approvals. Why? Nothing has changed. The industry has done well and will continue to do well.

                The court’s decision clearly says that municipalities have not only the right, but the obligation to protect their resident’s health, safety and welfare and to protect their property values. I would think Kotula, as the president of the Chamber of Commerce, would applaud such a ruling. He implies that the court put new power in the hands of the townships.

Again, nothing has changed. The municipalities have no more power now than they did in the past.

                What is clear is that the gas industry has no mandate to ride roughshod over the rights of the citizens of Pennsylvania and that is a good thing.”

David M. Ball

McMurray    Member of Peters Township Council.


7. Letter to the Editor… Karen Feridan

 Public is unaware of gas drilling fallout, and industry likes it that way


 Feb 3 –

“….Most Pennsylvanians are unaware that drilling has contaminated at least 161 private wells or that the families who rely on them are often left to their own devices to find clean water. They’re not aware of the respiratory illnesses, nosebleeds, and “frack rash” that are so prevalent in the Marcellus.

                They don’t hear about the homeowners stuck with properties that are worth less than they owe or the lifetime gag orders placed on 7- and 10-year old children so their parents could reach a settlement that let them move somewhere safe. Even stories that hit closer to home like the compressor station in Berks County that failed, releasing 61 tons of volatile organic compounds and 174 million cubic feet of methane in a matter of minutes, are unknown to most.

                Last summer, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s vote to support a moratorium on fracking came on the heels of another poll that said the majority of Pennsylvanians support one, too, so drilling’s impacts on health, safety, and the environment can be assessed. After all, when drillers can legally avoid disclosing the chemicals they use and impose gag orders on not just kids, but physicians, to keep it that way, one thing is clear. Nobody is in a position to say it’s safe.”


8. Westmoreland County Men Sentenced For Mineral Rights         Fraud

            “Two landmen were sentenced for stealing $2.4 million from dozens of mineral rights owners. They saw their elaborate scheme unravel when a Michigan woman couldn't get a natural gas lease on her Washington County property.

                Range Resources told Irene Bakalis that she had signed over her mineral rights, and as proof, the firm showed her a notarized deed. That's when Bakalis called Washington lawyer Frank Arcuri.

                                “It was so sophisticated that they got the name of the notary in the county where she lived and forged her signature (on the deed),” he said.

                He found evidence of other fraudulent deeds by Derek A. Candelore, 34, of Hempfield and William J. Ray, 30, of Monroeville that brought the total taken to about $2.4 million. After two days, Arcuri was talking with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Postal Inspection Service.

                U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab on Friday sentenced Candelore to 31⁄2 years in prison and 3 years of probation. He sentenced Ray to 1 year and 8 months in prison and 2 years of probation.

                The two worked for Penn-Star Energy LLC, a Butler County company, as landmen — a job that entails contacting mineral rights owners and negotiating leases for those rights. That gave them a working knowledge for committing the frauds.

                Between February 2011 and June 2012, they set up shell companies, forged deeds to make it appear they had purchased mineral rights and then sold those apparent rights to Range Resources and oil and gas investors, prosecutors say.

                The judge ordered the men to share in paying $2.4 million in restitution to Range Resources and the investors who bought the bogus mineral rights.

The restitution amounts are complicated because Candelore carried out some of the frauds without Ray. Schwab said Candelore swindled the mineral rights of 42 owners. Ray joined in defrauding 31 of those owners.

                The judge set the total amount Ray is responsible for helping to pay at about $1 million. Candelore must help pay the entire $2.4 million.”

Read more:


 9. Riverkeeper Can Pursue Act 13 Challenge

             Jan. 6 – “The court also found the Delaware Riverkeeper Network has standing to have its eminent domain appeal heard in the lower Commonwealth Court, thereby reversing an earlier ruling by that court. The network is challenging a provision saying drillers can use eminent domain powers to acquire storage space for natural gas, said Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. Drillers are interested in underground geological formations for storage space even if that space is underneath private land, she added.

                This provision provides for an improper use of eminent domain for a private commercial purpose rather than for a public purpose, said Ms. van Rossum. "The Supreme Court has said you can't turn a blind eye to this issue," she added. Ms. van Rossum thinks lawmakers should repeal Act 13 and write new legislation to regulate natural gas drilling in light of the court ruling overturning key sections.”

 Complete story:



10. Vera Scroggins Anti-Fracking Activist Barred From 312.5 Sq Miles of PA

From Bob Donnan News

Court injunction brought in by oil and gas company makes even supermarkets off-limits for Vera Scroggins


Jan 29 –“ Vera Scroggins, an outspoken opponent of fracking, is legally barred from the new county hospital. Also off-limits, unless Scroggins wants to risk fines and arrest, are the Chinese restaurant where she takes her grandchildren, the supermarkets and drug stores where she shops, the animal shelter where she adopted her Yorkshire terrier, bowling alley, recycling centre, golf club, and lake shore. In total, 312.5 sq miles are no-go areas for Scroggins under a sweeping court order granted by a local judge that bars her from any properties owned or leased by one of the biggest drillers in the Pennsylvania natural gas rush, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation.

                "They might as well have put an ankle bracelet on me with a GPS on it and be able to track me wherever I go," Scroggins said. "I feel like I am some kind of a prisoner, that my rights have been curtailed, have been restricted." The ban represents one of the most extreme measures taken by the oil and gas industry to date against protesters like Scroggins, who has operated peacefully and within the law including taking Yoko Ono to frack sites in her bid to elevate public concerns about fracking.”


11. Senior DEP Official Invested Money In Gas Industry

                “Jeffrey Logan was appointed to be the DEP’s Executive Deputy Secretary for Administration and Management by Governor Corbett in January 2011. Since then, ethics filings show Logan held several natural gas investments, including Cabot Oil and Gas, a natural gas index fund, and Westport Innovations — a major supplier of natural gas vehicle engines.

“[Logan] deals with administration and management issues such as HR, budget issues and information technology among other things,” Shirk wrote in an email. “He does not issue or review permits, he does not issue fines, penalties or conduct investigations, he does not award grants.”

 “He no longer has the holdings”

 It’s not clear how much money he was investing. Forms requested under the state’s Right To Know Law were heavily redacted.

 “Because Logan wanted to avoid even the appearance of a conflict – he no longer has the holdings,” Shirk wrote. Logan no longer has any natural gas-related investments, according to the DEP. Shirk says Logan bought the natural gas index fund in 2010, before he joined the department, and sold it in August 2012, after he’d been in the job for over a year and a half. Logan invested in Westport during his time at DEP, from April 2012 through August 2012.

 Logan bought Cabot stock in 2010, but Shirk gave conflicting accounts of when he sold it. It was either August 2011 or sometime in 2012.

 Shirk did not respond to a request for clarification.

 “It’s a conflict of interest” “Anytime an agency charged with regulating an industry has people investing in the same industry, it is a conflict of interest, whether real or perceived,” says government reform advocate Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital.  ”One of the problems with the ethics law in Pennsylvania is that it has no teeth.”

                Even though Logan may not have dealt directly with gas companies, he could have had access to information that was not public, says Barry Kauffman of the government reform group Common Cause Pennsylvania.

                “We want to make sure public officials aren’t getting insider information which could help them with their investments,” he says. “Anybody at a senior level of an agency like DEP should not be investing in companies over which that department has authority.”

                Logan previously served as a deputy secretary at the Department of State and the Department of Public Welfare under Governor Ridge. He is married to another Corbett appointee, Office of Administration Secretary Kelly Powell Logan.”


12. Radionuclides In Fracking Wastewater

BlendValerie J. Brown, based in Oregon, has written for EHP since 1996. In 2009 she won a Society of Environmental Journalists’ Outstanding Explanatory Reporting award for her writing on epigenetics.

            The Marcellus is known to have high uranium content, says U.S. Geological Survey research geologist Mark Engle. He says concentrations of radium-226—a decay product of uranium—can exceed 10,000 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) in the concentrated brine trapped in the shale’s depths. After fracking, both gas and liquids—including the injected water and any water residing in the formation (known as “flowback” and “produced water”)—are pulled to the surface.

Several studies indicate that, generally speaking, the saltier the water, the more radioactive it is.

                Dissolved compounds often precipitate out of the water, building up as radionuclide-rich “scale” inside pipes. To remove the pipe-clogging scale, operators might inject chemicals to dissolve it. Scale also may be removed mechanically using drills, explosives, or jets of fluid, in which case it joins the solid waste stream.

Wastes are often stored temporarily in containers or in surface impoundments, also called pits and ponds. Data on how many such ponds are used in shale gas extraction are sparse, but according to Kasianowitz, there are 25 centralized impoundments in Pennsylvania. Centralized impoundments can be the size of a football field and hold at least 10 million gallons of liquid. Although at any given time the number of smaller ponds is probably much higher, she says these ephemeral lagoons are used mostly in the early phase of well development and are rapidly decommissioned.

                Most impoundments are lined with plastic sheeting. Pennsylvania requires that pit liners for temporary impoundments and disposal have a minimum thickness of 30 mm and that seams be sealed to prevent leakage. Ohio’s only requirement is that pits must be “liquid tight.” However, improper liners can tear, and there have been reports of pit liners tearing and pits overflowing in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

                “Evaluating the single radionuclide radium as regulatory exposure guidelines indicate, rather than considering all radionuclides, may indeed underestimate the potential for radiation exposure to workers, the general public, and the environment,” the authors wrote.

                Ultimately most wastewater is either treated and reused or sent to Class II injection wells (disposal or enhanced recovery wells). A small fraction of Pennsylvania’s fracking wastewater is still being treated and released to surface waters until treatment facilities’ permits come up for renewal under new, more stringent treatment standards, Kasianowitz says.

                Concerns about NORM in the Marcellus have recently focused on surface waters in Pennsylvania. That’s because until 2011, most produced water was sent to commercial or public wastewater treatment plants before being discharged into rivers and streams, many of which also serve as drinking water supplies. In April of that year PADEP asked all Marcellus Shale fracking operations to stop sending their wastewater to treatment plants, according to Kasianowitz. Although voluntary, this request motivated most producers to begin directly reusing a major fraction of their produced water or reusing it after treatment in dedicated commercial treatment plants that are equipped to handle its contaminants.

                A team of Duke University researchers led by geochemist Avner Vengosh sought to characterize the effluent being discharged from one such plant, the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility in southwestern Pennsylvania. The researchers compared radioactivity and dissolved solids in sediment both up- and downstream of the facility and found a 90% reduction in radioactivity in the effluent. The radioactive constituents didn’t just disappear; the authors noted that most had likely been transferred and accumulated to high levels in the sludge that would go to a landfill.

`               Stream sediments at the discharge site also had high levels of radioactivity, keeping it out of the surface water downstream but posing the risk of bioaccumulation in the local food web. The outflow sediment radiation levels at the discharge site were 200 times those in upstream sediments. The study highlighted “the potential of radium accumulation in stream and pond sediments in many other sites where fracking fluids are accidentally released to the environment,” says Vengosh.

                The study also demonstrated another potential impact of treated brine on water quality. Most produced water contains bromide, which can combine with naturally occurring organic matter and chlorine disinfectant to form drinking water contaminants called trihalomethanes. These compounds are associated with liver, kidney, and nervous system problems. The Duke researchers reported highly elevated concentrations of bromide over a mile downstream from the plant—a potential future burden for drinking water treatment facilities downstream.

Beneficial Uses and Landfills

                Fracking wastes may also be disposed of through “beneficial uses,” which can include applying produced water as a road de-icer or dust suppressant, using drilling cuttings in road maintenance, and spreading liquids or sludge on fields. Pennsylvania allows fracking brine to be used for road dust and ice control under a state permit. While the permit sets allowable limits for numerous constituents, radioactivity is not included.

                Conventional wisdom about radium’s stability in landfills rests on an assumption regarding its interaction with barite (barium sulfate), a common constituent in drilling waste. However, Charles Swann of the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute and colleagues found evidence that radium in waste spread on fields may behave differently in soil than expected. When they mixed scale comprising radium and barite with typical Mississippi soil samples in the laboratory, radium was gradually solubilized from the barite, probably as a result of soil microbial activity. “This result,” the authors wrote, “suggests that the landspreading means of scale disposal should be reviewed.”

                Solids and sludges can also go to landfills. Radioactivity limits for municipal landfills are set by states, and range from 5 to 50 pCi/g.25 Since Pennsylvania began requiring radiation monitors at municipal landfills in 2001, says Kasianowitz, fracking sludges and solids have rarely set them off. In 2012 they accounted for only 0.5% of all monitor alarms.

                At the federal level, radioactive oil and gas waste is exempt from nearly all the regulatory processes the general public might expect would govern it. Neither the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 nor the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act covers NORM.2 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has no authority over radioactive oil and gas waste. State laws are a patchwork. Workers are covered by some federal radiation protections, although a 1989 safety bulletin from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration noted that NORM sources of exposure “may have been overlooked by Federal and State agencies in the past.”27

                Fracking in the Marcellus has advanced so quickly that public understanding and research on its radioactive consequences have lagged behind, and there are many questions about the extent and magnitude of the risk to human health. “We are troubled by people drinking water that [could potentially have] radium-226 in it,” says David Brown, a public health toxicologist with the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project. “When somebody calls us and says ‘is it safe to drink our water,’ the answer is ‘I don’t know.’”

                PADEP is conducting a study to determine the extent of potential exposures to radioactive fracking wastewater. The PADEP study will sample drill cuttings, produced waters, muds, wastewater recycling and treatment sludges, filter screens, extracted natural gas, scale buildup in well casings and pipelines, and waste transport equipment. PADEP will also evaluate radioactivity at well pads, wastewater treatment plants, wastewater recycling facilities, and landfills.

The EPA study includes research designed to assess the potential impacts from surface spills, well injection, and discharge of treated fracking wastewater on drinking water sources. One project will model the transport of contaminants, including radium, from treatment outflows in receiving waters. Field and laboratory experiments will characterize the fate and transport of contaminants in wastewater treatment and reuse processes. Groundwater samples are being tested for radium-226, radium-228, and gross alpha and beta radiation. The overall study does not include radon.

                Both radon and radium emit alpha particles, which are most dangerous when inhaled or ingested. When inhaled, radon can cause lung cancer, and there is some evidence it may cause other cancers such as leukemia. Consuming radium in drinking water can cause lymphoma, bone cancer, and leukemias. Radium also emits gamma rays, which raise cancer risk throughout the body from external exposures. Radium-226 and radium-228 have half-lives of 1,600 years and 5.75 years, respectively. Radium is known to bioaccumulate in invertebrates, mollusks, and freshwater fish, where it can substitute for calcium in bones. Radium eventually decays to radon; radon-222 has a half-life of 3.8 days.

                Geochemically, radon and radium behave differently. Radon is an inert gas, so it doesn’t react with other elements and usually separates from produced water along with methane at the wellhead. Although there are few empirical data available, the natural gas industry has not been concerned about radon reaching its consumers in significant amounts, in part because of radon’s short half-life and because much of it is released to the atmosphere at the wellhead.”


The pdf:


13. Commentary From Bob Donnan

On the State of the Union Address ….

 President Obama:     “Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy.  The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.”

 [He obviously drank industry’s “energy independence” Kool-Aid!]


                One of the reasons why is natural gas – if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.  Businesses plan to invest almost $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas.  I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas.  My administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and job growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, and our communities.  And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.”

 [Great, let’s change our fossil fuel addiction from oil to natural gas! Feel the knife in your back yet?)

                “It’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too.  Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced.  Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.”

 [We’ll see how well that O&G lobbying money will work on this idea!]

                “And even as we’ve increased energy production, we’ve partnered with businesses, builders, and local communities to reduce the energy we consume.  When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars.  In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

                Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet.  Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth.  But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods.  That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air.  The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way.  But the debate is settled.  Climate change is a fact.  And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”

 [At least he gets part of it]

 Complete address:


14. Sold A Bill Of Goods-- Seismic Testing In Peters Twp.

Bob Donnan

            “Seems to me the seismic company representative said they would only use 3 of their smaller ‘thumper trucks’ but I count 4, and if these are their smaller ones, I would hate to see their big ones! Anyone have a guess what the GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) of this model truck would be?

  A reliable source tells me those trucks weigh 20-30 tons”

Video of seismic testing:


During the companies presentation to our township council they said they would have an individual walking along the road where the trucks were close to houses to monitor the strength of the vibration and reduce it close to houses and water wells to prevent potential damage… Do you see anyone doing that in this video? Maybe the single digit temperature made them skip that step yesterday morning.




One well got knocked out when they were doing seismic testing in North Strabane near Lindenwood Golf Course. Now the family uses a water buffalo... the fastest growing herd in Washington County!”

More on Geokinetics which is conducting this seismic survey in Peters Twp:

 Damage in Denver:

 Wyoming Woes:

 GeoKinetics files for bankruptcy:


15. Range Resources Appeals Mt. Pleasant Decision

 (Bob Donnan Commentary: They get what they want and still aren’t happy…  Dencil Backus voted in favor of their plan and they are still after him.)

            Jan 30 - Range Resources is appealing a decision by Mt. Pleasant Township officials pertaining to the conversion of a freshwater impoundment into a recycled wastewater facility. Last month, the board of supervisors approved Range’s conditional use application to construct above-ground holding tanks at the site of the current Stewart impoundment and outlined eight special conditions that Range must follow. Range is appealing half of those conditions, in addition to the board’s denial of Range’s request for Supervisor Dencil Backus to excuse himself and refrain from voting at the Dec. 20 meeting. Range attorney Shawn Gallagher filed the appeal Tuesday in the Washington County Court of Common Pleas on behalf of the natural gas drilling company.

                 Range is disputing one condition that would require the company to investigate complaints of odor or air pollution on any adjoining property to the Stewart facility. Range would be required to inspect the vent and filtering systems installed inside the tanks and report all findings to the township. If the investigation reveals odor or air pollution, Range would be required to remedy the problem and conduct ongoing tests “for a reasonable time” to confirm whether the remediation was successful.”


 16. RESEARCH- Fracking Increases Heart Defects and Neural       Tube Defects in Babies

Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1306722

Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to Natural Gas Development in Rural Colorado— Heart and Neural Tube Defects

Lisa M. McKenzie,1 Ruixin Guo,2 Roxana Z. Witter,1 David A. Savitz,3 Lee S. Newman,1 and John L. Adgate1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, Colorado, USA; 2Department of Biostatistics and Informatics, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, Colorado, USA; 3Department of Epidemiology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

In this large cohort, we observed an association between density and proximity of natural gas wells within a 10-mile radius of maternal residence and prevalence of congenital heart defects and possibly neural tube defects. Environmental Health Perspectives.


                Background: Birth defects are a leading cause of neonatal mortality. Natural gas development (NGD) emits several potential teratogens and US production is expanding.

                Objectives: We examined associations between maternal residential proximity to NGD and birth outcomes in a retrospective cohort study of 124,842 births between 1996 and 2009 in rural Colorado.

Methods: We calculated inverse distance weighted natural gas well counts within a 10-mile radius of maternal residence to estimate maternal exposure to NGD. Logistic regression, adjusted for maternal and infant covariates, was used to estimate associations with exposure tertiles for congenital heart defects (CHDs), neural tube defects (NTDs), oral clefts, preterm birth, and term low birth weight. The Association with term birth weight was investigated using multiple linear regression.

                                Conclusions: In this large cohort, we observed an association between density and proximity of natural gas wells within a 10-mile radius of maternal residence and prevalence of CHDs and possibly NTDs.


            From Environmental Health News

 January 31, 2014

            Women who live near natural gas wells in rural Colorado are more likely to have babies with neural tube and congenital heart defects, according to a new study.

As natural gas extraction soars in the United States, the findings add to a growing concern by many activists and residents about the potential for health effects from the air pollutants.

                Researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health analyzed birth defects among nearly 125,000 births in Colorado towns with fewer than 50,000 people between 1996 and 2009, examining how close the mothers lived to natural gas wells.

                Babies born to mothers living in areas with the highest density of wells – more than 125 wells per mile – were more than twice as likely to have neural tube defects than those living with no wells within a 10-mile radius, according to the study published Tuesday. Children in those areas also had a 38 % greater risk of congenital heart defects than those with no wells.

                Both types of birth defects were fairly rare, occurring in a small percentage of births, but they can cause serious health effects. The researchers did not find a significant association between gas wells and other effects, including oral cleft defects, preterm births and low birth weight.

                Neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, are permanent deformities of the spinal cord or brain. They usually occur during the first month of pregnancy, before a woman knows she is pregnant. Congenital heart defects are problems in how the heart's valves, walls, veins or arteries developed in the womb; they can disrupt normal blood flow through the heart.

                “Taken together, our results and current trends in natural gas development underscore the importance of conducting more comprehensive and rigorous research on the potential health effects of natural gas development.” –study authors  For babies born to mothers in the areas with the most wells, the rate of congenital heart defects was 18 per 1,000, compared with 13 per 1,000 for those living with no wells within a 10-mile radius. For neural tube defects, the rate was 2.87 per 3,000, compared with 1.2 per 3,000 in areas with no wells.

                The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission estimates that 26 percent of the more than 47,000 oil and gas wells in Colorado are located within 150 to 1,000 feet of homes.

“Taken together, our results and current trends in natural gas development underscore the importance of conducting more comprehensive and rigorous research on the potential health effects of natural gas development,” the researchers wrote in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

                                It is unclear what, if anything, related to the natural gas wells could raise the risk of birth defects. However, benzene and other hydrocarbons, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, are emitted by trucks, drilling and pipelines near the wells.

                Benzene previously has been linked to neural tube defects in other areas, including Texas, where exposure is high from petrochemical industries. Benzene and several other air pollutants around natural gas wells are known to cross the placenta from mother to the fetus.

                “One plausible mechanism could be an association between air pollutants emitted during development and congenital heart defects, and possibly neural tube defects,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie said she is more cautious about the neural tube findings than the heart findings because the rate was elevated only among women who lived with the highest density of wells, and because there were only 59 babies with the neural defects.

                Wright said the study had some “good news for the energy industry” because when the researchers tightened the radius to two and five miles within the mothers’ homes, the odds of some birth defects dropped lower than the odds at 10 miles.

However, for the congenital heart and neural tube defects, increased risk was found at distances of two, five and 10 miles for the mothers living in areas with the highest densities of wells compared with areas with no wells.

Communities should decide whether they want to put pregnant mothers at risk, said Lindsey Wilson, a field associate with Environment Colorado, an environmental group.


From Aljazeera America-Facking linked to Birth Defects in Heavily Drilled Colorado

“What we found was that the risk of congenital heart defects (CHD) increased with greater density of gas wells — with mothers living in the highest-density areas at greatest risk,” Lisa McKenzie, a research associate at the Colorado School of Public Health and lead author of the study, told Al Jazeera.

                The study examined links between the mother's residential proximity to natural gas wells and birth defects in a study of more than 124,842 births between 1996 and 2009 in rural Colorado.

                The study found that "births to mothers in the most exposed (areas with over 125 wells per mile) had a 30 percent greater prevalence of CHDs than births to mothers with no wells in a 10-mile radius of their residence."


from TXSHARON on JANUARY 29, 2014

Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to Natural Gas Development in Rural Colorado

Some of the findings:

**Births to mothers with greater than 125 wells/mile had a 30% greater prevalence of congenital heart defects (CHD) than births to mothers with no wells within a 10-mile radius of their residence.

**Births with greater than 125 well/mile were 2.0 times more likely to have a neural tube defect (NTD) than those with no wells within a 10-mile radius.

**Air pollutants emitted from diesel engines used extensively in natural gas development also may be associated with CHDs and/or NTDs.

**This study suggests a positive association between greater density and proximity of natural gas wells within a 10-mile radius of maternal residence and greater prevalence of CHDs and possibly NTDs.

                So right now I’m really angry at EagleRidge and the City of Denton for exposing pregnant mothers to natural gas development only a couple of hundred feet from their homes.

A Canadian also study linked toxins to heart defects.


17. Chevron Ad Causes Family Dissent   

“Dan and Dave Hughes, are Pittsburghers involved in environmental and social justice causes, and Lily Hughes volunteers with the Shalefield Organizing Committee in NE PA.

                Family member Dick Hughes had agreed to do an ad for Chevron which would be stripped across the bottom half of two newspaper pages.  “Drill the right way, or don’t drill at all.’  It was stamped with a red “We agree.” and was signed by Chevron’s head of Marcellus operations, Bruce Neimeyer, and University of Pittsburgh professor Radisav Vidic. It ran in the post Gazette five times during fall 2012

                The most vocal criticism came from inside the family. ‘If you lend your skills and your photo to a company like Chevron, and they can use that to promote their fracking business, you’re sort of an accomplice in my view,” Dave Hughes said.

                When Dick Hughes heard from his Pittsburgh- based family about the dangers of fracking, he donated half of his earnings to the Shalefield Organizing Committee.

                “Wait til Chevron finds out that half the money went to my niece’s anti- fracking group” Hughes chuckled.  He also sent the ad image to Lily Hughes and encouraged her to use it in anti- fracking literature to bait Chevron into suing her group and bringing more attention to her cause.”

  Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Amy Litvak, Jan 19, 2014, P. 11


18. On- Site Compressor Stations

Bob Donnan

            (Some people surmised a couple years ago that we may see more stand alone compressors on Marcellus Shale gas well pads to circumvent air pollution regs. Bob)

 “Jan 25 – Horseheads NY town officials have scheduled a public hearing on the construction of a natural gas well compressor and a protective building . The compressor will be built on the existing Anschutz Exploration Ruger well pad that taps into the Trenton-Black River formation. “



Lowry Compressor Station by Cross Creek County Park PA



Now look at it with an $80,000 FLIR camera that detects VOC’s

Source: SHALETEST – Frank Finan


19. Ron Gulla-One of the First Landowners To Deal with Range   Resources

            “When Ron Gulla, a heavy-machinery salesman, leased the mineral rights on his Pennsylvania property in 2002, he said, he was told that standard vertical gas wells would be drilled and that in exchange for allowing the work, he’d get more natural gas than he could ever use on his 141 acres. “I thought it was a good deal,” he said recently. “Standard wells and I’d get free gas forever.”

                But when Range Resources began actual drilling on his property in 2005, he discovered that the company was drilling horizontal wells into a deep shale formation. Those wells — four in all — had to be blasted open with millions of gallons of water, sand, and poisonous chemicals, most of which returned to the surface with a vengeance and were put into huge ponds dug into his property near the wells. Within months, Gulla’s two-and-a-half-acre stocked fishpond had turned black and the fish were dying. He contends that was a result of the chemical-laden water in the frack pond leaking downhill into his fishpond, but when he complained to Range that its flow pits were responsible for the damage, the company denied responsibility.

                That was the beginning of a several-year-long battle that ultimately cost Gulla his peace of mind, his family’s security, and the farm.

When the first well went in on Gulla’s property, it was only the second horizontal well ever drilled in what’s now known as the Marcellus Shale, the largest known gas play in the U.S., stretching from Ohio through Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and down into West Virginia.

                As happened with the gas boom in Fort Worth, people like Gulla and thousands of others had no idea what was coming. The landmen who secured the leases talked about the bonus money and royalties or the free gas that landowners would get. They talked about the 350,000 wells already dug in Pennsylvania over the last hundred years and had people thinking of oil crickets in their front yards pumping money all day long.

                According to Gulla and others, residents weren’t told about the fracking fluids that would poison the air they breathed or the thousands of trucks that would tear up their roads transporting the millions of gallons of water each well fracture would require. They weren’t told about fugitive methane and volatile organic compound emissions that would continually leak from wells, compressor stations, and other equipment and would make them sick. They had no idea that water wells would go bad, that leaks from waste pits would kill their cattle and horses. They had to discover those things as they went along.

                Gulla and others whose leases were owned by Range Resources, a Fort Worth-based company and the major player in the Marcellus Shale, also discovered that asking Range to rectify a problem could lead to lawsuits: The company is known for aggressively going after people it thinks are threatening its brand.

                All oil and gas companies screw up occasionally: There are spills, leaks, pipe failures, well blowouts, and sometimes explosions. The industry as a whole fights tooth and nail to avoid taking responsibility for those things.

                In the case of horizontal  gas fracking, there are also hundreds, perhaps thousands of cases where nearby water wells went bad shortly after the drilling started. Wells that produced clean, drinkable water for years suddenly changed color and smell, becoming heavy with gas and other chemicals. Since a direct connection between the gas well and the water well is difficult to prove, drillers generally fight to avoid accepting responsibility for as long as they can before, in many cases, ponying up and paying off the aggrieved landowners. Then they usually seek confidentiality agreements permanently prohibiting the landowners from talking about the problem or the settlement.

                Ruggiero: “Range just seems to love the conflict.”

pic: Sucking water out of a small Pennsylvania stream for fracking


20. Dallas Texas Passes Tough Ordinance- 1500 Feet

            On December 11, the Dallas City Council passed America's most restrictive hydraulic fracturing ordinance. In Dallas, the new restrictions - including outlawing drilling closer than 1,500 feet from residences and other sensitive areas - essentially prevent drilling from taking place at all, according to oil and gas industry representatives.


                Dallas just passed the strictest ordinances in the region that restrict drilling to no closer than 1,500 feet from homes, schools, day care centers, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, motels, parks, playgrounds, places of employment and other sensitive areas.

                The Dallas ordinance is THE strongest in the nation! Not only does it mandate a setback of at least 1,500 feet, but it also measures that setback from the nearest edge of the pad site to the nearest edge of the protected use property line. (Most ordinances measure setback from the center of the first well bore to the physical structure on the protected use property.) It also prohibits injection (wastewater disposal) wells within city limits, restricts compressor stations to Industrial Manufacturing (IM) districts only, mandates 100 percent chemical disclosure with no exception for trade secrets, requires use of discrete tagging agents in frac fluid to track fluid migration in soil and groundwater, has increased insurance requirements (at a time when insurance companies are starting to pull back from covering gas well operations due to inherent risks), and includes other restrictions that are going to be very hard for industry to overcome.

                                There can be no doubt that fracking outside of Dallas is adversely impacting the city of Dallas. According to a study by the Southern Methodist University Environmental Sciences Department, releases of VOCs and NOx from Barnett Shale gas production account for 55 percent of all harmful air emissions in the DFW metro area. Earthquakes are being felt in Dallas, and though they are minor, that does not mean a future quake of significant magnitude will never be felt. DFW International Airport closed two injection wells on airport property because they were causing earthquakes under the runways of the fifth-largest airport in the world, and the airport board feared a runway failure leading to possible deaths and injuries, as well as major economic disruption for the DFW area, the state of Texas, the United States and the entire world.”


21. Center for Biological Diversity Lists Effects to Wildlife in        California -- PA Cited as Bad Example

            Fracking in California poses serious risks to the state’s wildlife. Endangered species like California condors, San Joaquin kit foxes and blunt-nosed leopard lizards live in places where fracking is likely to expand, and these animals face direct and indirect harm.

                Research and reports from other areas suggest links between fracking and a wide range of threats to wildlife and domestic animals like horses, cats and dogs. Among the most serious:

                Fish kills in Pennsylvania have been associated with the contamination of streams, creeks and wetlands by fracking fluid.


                Farmers, pet owners and veterinarians in five states — Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas — have reported deaths, serious illnesses and reproductive problems among wildlife, as well as horses, cattle, cats and dogs exposed to fracking infrastructure or wastewater.

                Withdrawing water from streams and rivers for fracking can threaten fisheries.

                Birds and other wildlife have been poisoned by chemical-laced water in wastewater ponds and tanks used to dispose of fracking fluids.

                Equipment used to withdraw water for fracking activity has been implicated in the introduction of invasive species into creeks and rivers, causing fish kills.

                Sensitive bird species and other wildlife can be affected by drilling noise, truck trips and other effects from gas drilling pads — one study found that a single drilling station can affect 30 acres of forest. Effects on wildlife include degradation of habitat and interference with migration and reproduction.

                The diversity of species in streams close to fracking activity in Pennsylvania was found to be reduced, even though drilling was done in accordance with all current state rules.

                Wastewater ponds resulting from gas extraction provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes that can transmit diseases such as the deadly West Nile Virus to wild birds. In California, oil and gas companies are fracking in several counties with West Nile virus activity, including Kern County, which has had a human case.

                The six California counties in which fracking is likely to expand are home to about 100 plants and animals on the endangered species list. These species are already struggling against extinction — fracking would only compound their troubles.”



From Bob Donnan

Even though propane is more abundant, Americans are paying much more due to increased exports.


Feb 3 – Prices jumped 181% since October.

The US is now exporting record amounts of propane to more lucrative markets.



23. Natural Resources Defense Council Criticizes Obama      Administration

            “Over 15 million Americans now live within a mile of a frack well. The Obama Administration has failed to curb the environmental and health threats posed by fracking. “The administrator is basically rolling out the welcome mat to the oil and gas industry” said Sharon Buccinon director of NRDC Land and Wildlife program. “No region of the country will escape.

                Not even national parks are immune to the ravages of nearby fracking. Newly drilled wells in Montana are already visible from Glacier National Park. The front door to Glacier has been proposed for major industrialization . In Wyoming, oil and gas development near Grand Teton National Park is fragmenting the habitat that pronghorn an other species need outside the part  for migrations

                “We must hold president Obama accountable here”, says NRDC president Frances Ceinecke. “He made a promise e last year in his State of the Union address to develop Americas gas resources with out putting the health and safety of out citizens at Risk. Instead his administration has caved to the oil and gas lobby.”

NRDC Natures Voice


24. States urged to ‘step up’ and fund new gas pipelines

            “Operators require 15 years of guaranteed deliveries to build new interstate pipelines. Increasing the United State’s reliance on natural gas for electricity may require state governments to take on new roles to ensure power reliability, experts told an ICF International forum in Washington, DC, last week.

            The core issue, they said, is how to raise the long-term capital needed for pipelines to transport gas to generators – since those generators must sell into day-ahead power markets.”




We are very appreciative of donations, both large and small, 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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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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