Friday, February 21, 2014

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates February 13, 2014

 Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’
Group Updates
February 13, 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
                For the email address, click on the envelope
under the photo
*  For information on PA state gas legislation
and local control:       

Thank You

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


*** WMCG  Meeting  We meet the second Tuesday of every month at
7:30 PM in Greensburg- next meeting March 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.
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

 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

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,


           Petitions to DEP To Ban Frack Pits

***1.   Petition From Penn

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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



Research & Policy Center Director

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


               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.

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

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

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


***WESA Public
Radio from Briget Shields

               WESA Pittsburgh's public radio is
having their listener drive now.  Instead
of renewing my membership I have sent this statement. I think it would help if
others vocalize our mission to divest in anyone promoting the fossil fuel
industry.  Here is my pledge
comment.  Don't know if they will print
it in the comment section I posted it in but wanted to share in hopes others
will relay the message. You can promote your own organization and put it in
your own words but while the membership drive is going on is a good time to let
them know we are not happy with the Range Resource ads we are constantly

               I have always supported public broadcasting.
BUT....there is a well fire in Greene County where people are being exposed to
toxic fumes, 300,000 people in WV living with contaminated water from chemicals
used in the fossil fuel industry including fracking , hundreds of people
without any water for over 5 years because of the fracking industry in SWPA
thousands in PA. Are you reporting this? NO. Imagine my surprise when I hear
many times a day your station promoting the very industry that is the cause of
this destruction.

I am giving my membership dollars to those organizations that promote clean
renewable energy and those that work to educate the public to stop the toxic
fossil fuel industry like:  Shalefield
Stories, Marcellus Protest, PennEnvironment, Sierra Club, The Thomas Merton

 Public broadcasting like all media outlets is
failing us.


WESA FAcebook page




***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


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


***Tell Congress to


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.

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

 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

Pennsylvania http:

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


 State Groups Oppose Fracking Our state

From Clean Water Action

you are probably aware during Corbett's budget address he proposed balancing
the budget by over turning the moratorium on new gas drilling leases for state
parks and forests.

find attached an organizational sign on letter we are working on with several
other groups. The letter will be sent to all legislators urging them to oppose
this proposal and any budget that contains it.


Water Action- Pennsylvania

Shale Coordinator

February 11, 2014


WMCG Signed
on to the following letter:

Dear Legislators:

undersigned organizations urge you to oppose
Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed plan to end the existing moratorium on gas
leasing in state forests and ask you to vote against any budget that
incorporates revenue from that plan.
Reopening state forests to new gas development fills a one-time budget
gap with decades of risk and the vast majority of Pennsylvanians oppose it.

state forests are recreational and ecologic gems as well as leading drivers of
our tourism economy. Our state forests consist of more than 2.2 million acres
of pristine wilderness that are home to a variety of animals including black
bear, wild turkey, native brook trout, and rare birds. Parks and forests
offer opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing, mountain biking,
horseback riding and is one of the best sources for hunting and fishing.

Corbett’s proposal to balance the 2014 budget by opening up our state forests
to further gas leasing threatens both the environmental and economic benefits
our forests provide. His proposal would end the moratorium on new leases for
natural gas drilling former Governor Ed Rendell put in place. Former Governor
Rendell issued the moratorium in October 2010 because he determined that more
forest drilling would “jeopardize fragile ecosystems.”

public agrees with former Governor Rendell’s decision. A poll in September 2013
by Mercyhurst University found that 67% of Pennsylvanians thought gas extraction
should not occur in state parks. A more recent January 2014 poll by Franklin
and Marshall College found that 68% of Pennsylvanians oppose additional gas
development in state forests. Governor Corbett’s proposal is an affront to the
wishes of Pennsylvanians. Advancement and support for this proposal would
signal that our government is not listening and that the opinions of citizens
don’t matter.

exploration and drilling causes impact to the state forests. There is no such
thing as no-impact drilling. Even proximity to drilling puts our forests at
risk. Pollution respects no boundaries. Accidents with natural gas drilling
operations like spills of toxic wastewater, explosions, and methane migration
have occurred across the Commonwealth. Additional drilling will mean noise and
light disturbance from heavy machinery, seismic exploration, construction of
new roads and pipelines, and increased truck traffic.  These potential dangers and activities
increase the risk of upsetting the natural habitat of animals, disrupting the
peace that is associated with enjoying nature and threatening the health of
nearby families.      The Commonwealth has
leased nearly half of the 1.5 million acres of forest it owns that overlays
with the Marcellus shale. Many of the leased land have yet to be drilled. Have
we not already leased enough land for the natural gas industry? According to a
study the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)
finished in 2010, all of the unleased forest land is in ecologically sensitive
areas or cannot be accessed without cutting through ecologically sensitive
areas.  According to former DCNR Deputy
Secretary John Quigley, the Rendell administration scoured the state forest for
tracts that were not ecologically sensitive and could still be leased. “We
found all the needles in the haystack at that time, said Quigley. I don't know
where there are additional tracts like that.”

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently
reminded us that we have an obligation to protect our forests for future
generations.  Once the integrity of our
state forests are destroyed there is no turning back. Our state forests were established as sacred places for the enjoyment of
all and the conservation of the natural environment—not
as future industrial
sites used to fill short term revenue needs. We need to preserve these places
for future generations as they were preserved in the past for us.


Again, we ask you to oppose Governor
Corbett’s proposal to lease our state forests for natural gas drilling and any
budget proposal that includes it. We look forward to any comments or questions
you may have on this subject and offer our support to any leader standing in
opposition to this irresponsible and irrevocable action.


Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Shale Campaign

Clean Water Action

Josh McNeil, Executive Director,  Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania


Frack Links

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

 Contact Jessa Chabeau


***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

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?


*** Southwest PA
Environmental Health Has Air Monitors

Ryan Grode at the SWPA-EHP:

am beginning a distribution of new air
quality monitors for individuals who are living near any type of drilling
.  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.

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


From Jan:

our last WMCG meeting,  SWPA-HEP  provided information about the air and water
monitors. “Speck” is the air monitor developed by Carnegie Mellon. It is used
indoors, plugged into an outlet,  and
detects particulate matter. These monitors are being used within about 3 miles
of fracked wells.  The device is not
calibrated in a way to be used in a court of law.  It is used to give the homeowner an idea of
the level of pollution they are being exposed to, and it registers a continuous

water indicator, called  “Catfish”, is
placed in the back of a toilet and measures conductivity which is related to
general water quality of water. Further testing can be done if conductivity is



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


 Fracking News


Well Explosion –Yet Drilling Is Allowed Near PA Schools?

Bob Donnan

in the day a newspaper reported that the air quality would not be affected, but
that sort of spin became especially ridiculous when one newscaster said last
night that the air smelled like burning rubber. Another witness said, “Black
smoke and a ball of fire.”


Greene County shale well ablaze

 Feb 12 - More than
12 hours after an explosion that "sounded like a jet engine going 5 feet
above your house," as one neighbor put it, the fire, fueled by the well's
gas, continued to shoot flames and smoke into the air, causing a hissing sound
that could be heard a quarter-mile away. The heat from the blaze -- which
caused a tanker truck on site that was full of propane gas to explode -- was so
intense that first responders from local fire departments had to pull back
rather than risk injury.

               Though the fire was initially thought to be a "blowout" in
which there was loss of control at the well head during drilling that resulted
in a release of natural gas, Mr. Poister said he has been told that it was not
a drilling-related accident.
Instead, he said, the well had long since been
drilled and crews were on site early this morning putting in pipe that would
connect the well to Chevron's gas-gathering network -- the final stage before
the well goes into production.


 Worker missing in
Greene gas well fire

noted a number of trucks were at the well site Tuesday morning, including one
that may have contained propane. Some reports suggest it may have exploded,
although Poister said he could not confirm that. “There will be an
investigation undertaken by the DEP and I’m sure Chevron will conduct its own
investigation (of what took place),” Poister said. The fire might be a little
more difficult to extinguish than one involving a single well, Poister said.
“Normally, you have a pipe situation with flames going out of a well pipe. They
use an explosive to suck all of the oxygen out of the pipe and that extinguishes
the fire,” he said.

Source: Tribune-Review

               This case may be different, he
said. “There is a crater when the explosion occurred so the fire is much
greater. To manage it, they will more than likely have to use a large amount of
a fire suppressant (chemical).” DEP staff will closely monitor nearby streams
to ensure they are not compromised by the chemical, he said. The well at the
site was in the final stages of work before being placed into production,
Poister said. The well had been drilled more than a year ago and fracked last
spring, according to people at the scene who had worked at the site but did not
want to be named.


“300-foot setback lunacy” Bob Donnan

               You ought to send a picture of the Dunkard
fire and the reality of the half mile blast area around it to all our
legislators as demonstration of why drilling doesn't belong in residential
areas and why a 300 foot setback is lunacy
. Interesting parallel - the TSA
makes millions of airline passengers a day remove their shoes because one
looney tune thought he could blow up his Keds and failed.  What response should one very real gas well
explosion beget?”


And Comment from Group member

“One person missing? Missing? A half mile perimeter
has been set up around the well fire? How dare anyone suggest this activity
belongs anywhere in South Fayette.”


2.  DEP Secretary Says- Lucky No Houses Near

BOBTOWN – A company brought in to extinguish a fire
at Chevron Appalachia's natural gas well site in Dunkard Township could have
the fire under control within the next day or two, Chris Abruzzo, secretary of
the DEP, said Wednesday.

spoke with reporters Wednesday afternoon at the Bobtown Polish Club after
meeting with Chevron officials and others at the company's command post on
Greene Lakes Road.

                              A team from Wild Well Control,
which specializes in fighting well fires, was flown in from Houston, Texas, by
Chevron Tuesday morning to extinguish the blaze. The company was developing a
plan to cap the well Wednesday.

don't want to make any promises Wild Well has to deliver on, but it does seem
like they will have a plan in place, it could be, sometime this evening,”
Abruzzo said. “From what we're seeing, I'm thinking in the next day or two,
this will be contained and the well will be capped.”

fire Wednesday appeared to have subsided from Tuesday's blaze and Abruzzo said
the fire actually was going out intermittently only to be reignited as gas from
the well hits the hot surface, particularly the “red hot” surface of a truck
near the well head.

He said he viewed the well pad from about 500

               “You can visually see vapor or gas coming
from the well reigniting as it hits the truck that is right in front of the
well,” he said.

staff members at the site are monitoring air quality with hand-held monitors
but are getting only “negative” readings in terms of volatile organic
compounds, he said.

Air quality is the agency's main concern now, he
said, “although I have no reason to believe at this point there's anything that
any nearby resident should be concerned with.”

assure residents the air is safe, DEP will be conducting additional air
sampling at various locations, particularly in areas where there are homes. Abruzzo said it was “fortunate” the well
site is remote; he estimated the nearest home is about a half of a mile away
from the site.

it is still too early to determine, Abruzzo said, he didn't believe there will
be any major environmental impacts from the explosion and fire.

all of this has been contained to the well pad itself, I don't think at this
point there's going to be significant environmental harm other than what is
being released into the atmosphere, but at this early stage, I'm encouraged by
what I've seen.”

               Asked whether Pennsylvania should have a
team similar to Wild Well in the state to respond more quickly to an emergency,
Abruzzo said he didn't think the time it took Wild Well to get to the scene has
been a factor. The team was reported to be at the site late Tuesday afternoon.

he said, the agency will know better after the fire is extinguished and an
investigation is completed whether the time it took Wild Well to get on scene
and extinguish the fire was an important factor.”



3. Gas Field Politics In Western PA

               “Kendall became a supervisor
in Robinson, Washington County, in January, less than three weeks since it won
a landmark state Supreme Court ruling overturning part of new laws aimed at
eliminating local obstacles to shale drilling.

the win, he used his first night in
office, Jan. 6, to lead a vote to remove Robinson from the case. Then he made
his first official call as a township supervisor to Range Resources Corp.

               In one election, voters dumped
two of the township's three supervisors and shifted the township's position on

               “The new administration is a gas-friendly administration,” said
Kendall, 48, who has his own gas lease with Range Resources. “We have no
intention of holding up or hindering the industry.”

               Robinson's decision to drop out
of the case is a formality. Several other plaintiffs will keep the case moving
through appeals courts.

               Robinson's revised stance shows
how far the influence of the shale gas boom can reach — down to a three-person
township government. The community of about 2,000 people in rural hills just
west of Allegheny County has been caught up in debates over fairness, money and

political opponents say outside influence is reaching in, too.

               “I never experienced anything
like this,” said Irene Barrie, 61, who opposed drilling and supported ousted
supervisor Brian Coppola. “People just see money, and they don't care about
anything else.”

               Coppola, a Republican, said he
didn't oppose drilling but wanted to ensure the companies follow rules and pay
for any disruptions. The board approved
several wells, then got involved in legal fights with drillers who claimed
permits weren't being approved fast enough.
Drilling triggered heated
debate in township meetings with overflowing crowds of residents.

               “There was clearly special interest involved,” Coppola said, declining
to explain. “It's so transparent.”

               Kendall and others deny having
coordinated with gas companies or outside groups to turn residents against
supervisors who were viewed as throwing up obstacles to drilling.

               Yet opportunity magnified
longstanding land-use disputes causing conflict in township government, the
current and former supervisors said. Kendall,
for example, wrangled for years with township officials about subdividing his
property, among other issues, he said.

               Gas leases led to debate over the
role and effectiveness of township government. Kendall said his family leased more than 100 acres for gas drilling,
with a bonus payment of $2,000 to $3,000 an acre. But he said drilling on his
property was held up because it increasingly became more difficult and time-consuming
to get permits from the township.

               Range sued in county and state courts, alleging Robinson
supervisors improperly delayed its permits, cases that are pending. Kendall
filed complaints with state regulators, challenging township rules for
drilling, and that added to legal fights challenging Act 13.

               With an annual operating budget
of $500,000, Robinson found itself fighting on two fronts against the
commonwealth, with a budget of $29 billion, and a company with a stock market
value of $13.5 billion.

               “It's definitely the front lines,” said John M. Smith, former township
solicitor. “It has become more divisive because the money is real and the money
is now. And the impact is real and the impact is now.”



4. Gas Pipeline Blast In Kentucky

            A gas pipeline explosion in Kentucky
shook the ground and catapulted rocks high into the air early Thursday,
officials said.

            The blast and ensuing fire in Adair
County destroyed three houses, two barns and several cars, Kentucky Emergency
Management director Greg Thomas said.

person suffered burns and was taken to hospital.

pipeline was buried 20 feet into a mountainside near the rural community of
Knifley. The explosion left a deep crater and flung “huge rocks” into the air,
according to Thomas speaking from the scene.

of these boulders were found blocking a road 150 yards away from the pipeline
in what Thomas said was evidence of the blast’s ferocity.

Michael Clinkscales, a student at
Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky., said he saw the fire from his campus
20 miles away and posted a photograph on Twitter.

            The company, which is part of
NiSource's Columbia Pipeline Group, said in a statement released at 6:30 a.m.
ET that it did not yet know the cause of the explosion.”


5. Train Carrying Crude Oil and Gas Derails in Vandergrift

            “Twenty-one cars of a freight train
hauling oil and gas derailed this morning in Vandergrift, striking a building
that houses a specialty metals firm, authorities said.  Hazmat crews responded to MSI Corp. in the 200 block of First
Street in Vandergrift, and the state DEP was sending a three-member emergency
response team after reports that oil was leaking from overturned cars.

            Norfolk Southern spokesman Dave
Pidgeon said 19 of the derailed cars were carrying a type of crude oil that is thick enough to be lifted
with a shovel. An undetermined amount leaked from three cars but was contained
before it entered any water source, he said. The leaks were stopped. Two other
derailed cars had liquid propane.

            Westmoreland County public safety
spokesman Dan Stevens said some people were evacuated from MSI, and engineers
would be sent to examine the structural integrity of the building.

            DEP spokesman John Poister said as a
precaution, DEP notified water companies with intakes downstream of the
incident scene along the Kiskiminetas River, but there were no indications of
oil entering the river as of mid-morning.

            Mr. Pidgeon said the railroad would
investigate the cause of the crash. "We will look at all human and
non-human factors," he said.



6. Sacrificing Public Lands to Balance the Budget


again, our 1955 Oil and Gas Lease Fund is being used to balance the
Commonwealth budget. The Governor's
budget would force DCNR to earn $75 million via new non-surface leases of state
. See Marie Cusick's article:

 Does this entail
breaking the Rendell Moratorium?

               The Oil
and Gas Lease Fund must be restored to its original purpose:  Exclusively for conservation, recreation,
dams or flood control projects.  That
fund helped us get from 44 State Parks (in 1955) to the 120 today.  The fund could be used to purchase oil &
gas rights beneath our State Parks and Forests before they are damaged by

House Bill 1500 has been introduced to restore the O&G Lease dollars, the
lawsuit by the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation seeks the same
result and stands a 100% better chance of success.  See


7. Fracking in Drought Stricken Areas

               More than half of the U.S.
oil and gas wells dri0   lled using fracking technology since 2011
have been in drought-stricken areas.10 7

USA's domestic energy boom is increasing demands on water supplies already
under pressure from drought and growing populations, a new report says. The
water-intensive process used to extract oil and gas from shale underground — known
as fracking — has required almost 100
billion gallons of water to drill more than 39,000 oil and shale gas wells in
the U.S. since 2011
, says Ceres, a green investment group.


More than half
of those wells — 55% — were in drought-stricken areas, and nearly half were in
regions under high or extremely high water stress, such as Texas
, the report says. To be in
extremely high water stress means more than 80% of the area's available surface
and ground water is already allocated for city, agriculture or industrial use.
High stress means 40% to 80% of the water is already allocated, Ceres says.
Shale development is also occurring rapidly in areas where groundwater is
already being depleted by other uses, including agriculture and residential




8. Pennsylvania Quickly Spends Shale Gas Revenues

               State government is spending its Marcellus shale
money almost as fast as it's coming in. Gov.
Tom Corbett's proposed budget would spend nearly $230 million in one year from
leasing state-owned natural gas rights, leaving the state's Oil and Gas Fund
with $14 million less than what it started with before Corbett passed his first
budget in 2011.
A lot of that money would go to education, health care and
public safety, Corbett officials said. It follows a trend started by his
predecessor, Democrat Ed Rendell, whose government spent more than $400 million
of the state's gas revenue in the first three years of the shale gas boom,
according to budget breakdowns from House Democrats.

with drilling interests pressing public lands, the state has opted to use the
money to patch its budgets. State law
originally mandated that the state bank all of its oil and gas money for
conservation projects
. Under Rendell's leadership, the General Assembly
changed those rules, and used as much as $200 million in the 2009-10 fiscal
year for general spending. “They've done the exact opposite of what you'd think
would want to do with that money, they're taking it away (from DCNR) and making
it even harder for them to do their jobs,” said Jay Parrish, who was the state
geologist for nine years starting in Gov. Tom Ridge's administration. “Even if
they target money for conservation in some way, they then cut their funding in
another way.”


9. Southwest PA
Environmental Health Project –Recommendations for Well Water Testing

(This is an
excerpt from the paper. The report provides action strategies based on the
results of your water test. Jan)




“Getting baseline tests done as
soon as possible is important for an effective monitoring strategy. The more
you can include in your baseline tests, the better. Thorough baseline tests
include ALL of the following:  

 1. PA DEP suggests you test the following each year, regardless of
your environment:

coliform bacteria


total dissolved solids (TDS)


2. We recommend you also test the following as part of your
baseline test:




3. Targeted water tests – for baseline and every 6 months during
natural gas extraction activities.

Although these tests are expensive, we encourage you to test for
as many as you can, especially as a baseline.

  VOCs  surfactants oil and grease

strontium sodium ethane/methane

barium glycols flourides

arsenic calcium iron



Monitor your water for pH and conductivity in between targeted
. This strategy can alert you to
changes in water quality, but it may not be effective for all possible
contaminants. This is why we recommend retesting every six months.  


If you cannot afford many of these tests, monitoring for
conductivity and pH, which are very inexpensive, will give you at least some
information about your water quality. We think it is well worth the small
amount of effort it takes to conduct these weekly tests.


These recommendations are our
best advice based on the very limited research that is available.  We are working with members of the local
community over the next year to determine which of these tests are most
essential and most cost-effective.  None
of these strategies for monitoring your well water are 100% effective.

Potentially, contamination
will occur undetected. But these strategies are still extremely valuable when
one considers the consequences of living with contaminated water.


Keep in mind that our
rationale and strategy recommendations may not support a legal case. Our focus
is to provide the very best advice available for protecting public health,
regardless of legal or political concerns.”


10. 50,000 Wind Energy Supporters Want Tax Credit Extended

               As Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden
takes leadership of the Senate Finance Committee, his inbox is filling up with
requests to prioritize the renewal of the wind production tax credit (PTC).

Hogg, an Iowa state senator, created a Climate Parents petition to send to
Wyden, encouraging him to do what he can to obtain a PTC renewal. According to
North American WindPower, the petition has about 50,000 signatures.

must support wind power and renewable energy,” Hogg said. “Our children and our
grandchildren are counting on Congress to act.”

               The PTC expired Dec. 31 and left
companies scrambling at the Rend of 2013 to the meet its requirements.
Additionally, 24 U.S. senators sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Finance
in December with hopes of preserving the jobs and investments that come along
with the tax credit. Siemens sold 448 turbines to MidAmerican Energy in
December in what was the world’s largest order for onshore wind projects.
MidAmerican is using the turbines for five different projects in Iowa.

decision on whether to extend the wind PTC is a crucial test for Congress that
will impact the type of world our children inherit,” The Climate Parents
petition reads. “Will Congress continue to favor industries that increase
carbon pollution, fueling climate-related disasters?



11. Hanover Twp. Residents Raise Concerns About Frack Water Tank Farm

hundred seventy-eight yards: That’s the distance from Pam Chappell’s home in
Florence, Hanover Township, to the site of a proposed tank farm that would
process and recycle frack water.
Step by step, Chappell measured the
distance with a rangefinder – from her picnic table to her grape arbor and from
there to Golfland on Route 22, which Chappell said is roughly 200 yards from
the proposed industrial site. Chappell and a dozen of her neighbors said the
short distance from the proposed water-treatment facility to their homes and
township park is cause for concern.      



150 tanker
trucks per day

Bob Donnan








               Hydro Recovery LP, based in
Blossburg, needs township approval to construct six double-containment tanks capable of storing as much as 12 million
gallons of liquid waste altogether.
The company has a sales agreement for
20 acres of industrial-zoned land. If the site application is approved, Hydro Recovery truck drivers would
transport flowback and produced water from gas well pads to the Hanover
Township facility.
The facility would then treat and recycle the water, and
it would be transported back to well sites to use in the fracturing process.
The liquid waste also could contain frack sand, boring fluids from pipeline
construction and stormwater collected in an operator’s secondary containment.”


 12. EPA Begins Regulating Diesel in Fracking-Always Could,           Never Did

  The Obama administration has moved to exert
more control over the injection of diesel deep underground to extract oil and
natural gas, its first foray into addressing the potential contamination of
water from the controversial technique. The EPA has little authority to
regulate fluids used in fracking, which involves pumping water laced with
chemicals into shale formations to unlock trapped oil and gas. But the agency has been allowed since 2005 to
regulate the use of diesel in fracking. Until Tuesday, it had not done so.


               Companies must apply for permits
from state or federal authorities to use diesel in fracking. But the EPA had not defined what it considered
diesel, which comes in many formulations, complicating efforts to control its
The EPA's new guidance defines five substances as diesel that require
a permit for use in fracking. The agency's action, however, will have very
little overall effect on fracking, since only about 2% of such oil and gas
operations in the country use diesel. The
new measure also leaves many forms of diesel unregulated. "We know that
diesel fuel is a toxic carcinogen and is a threat to drinking water if used in
fracking," said Courtney Abrams, Environment America's Clean Water Program
director. "The EPA has made a small step toward curbing one of many
threats from fracking


13. Fracking At What Cost

February 7, 2014

               “I am responding to the editorial “Winter of Our
Content: Natural Gas Drilling Warms Consumers’ Wallets” (Jan. 28). It was
narcissistic, considering the human species only, our comfort and profit (the
energy companies make billions in profit so there is no need to raise the cost
of energy). The editorial failed to
consider the cost to the entire ecosystem in which humans are only a small
Fracking pollutes air, water and soil. It releases methane, which was
the cause of the worst mass extinction, killing 95 percent of life on the
planet. We are now underway into the sixth mass extinction.

               Article 1, Section 27, of the
Pennsylvania Constitution states: “The people have a right to clean air, pure
water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic
values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the
common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As
trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them
for the benefit of all the people.”

               I’d rather “take a cold shower”
than experience the toxic effects of the life-threatening chemicals used in
fracking — rashes, nausea, dizziness, tumors, headaches, etc., and widespread
death to our wildlife. I’d rather take a cold shower than wonder “where have
all the flowers gone?” (the late Pete Seeger). “When will we ever learn?”

               In ending, the editorial said, “Natural gas drilling makes dollars and sense,” but
I say it doesn’t make life and co-existence sense. There are other sources of
energy that do make sense, and I say “Shine, baby, shine,” not “Drill, baby,




 14. EPA’s McCarthy Meets With
Industry But Not Citizen


“Steve Lipsky confronted EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
in the Washington Hilton to request a meeting regarding the EPA’s withdrawal of
legal action to protect his Parker County, Texas home’s drinking water from
fracking-enabled oil and gas pollution. “Today, I tried to ask Administrator
McCarthy for help,” said Steve Lipsky. He continued, “But she pushed me aside
as not even important enough to look at. McCarthy has time enough to meet with
oil and gas industry lobbyists. Maybe that’s why she’s unwilling to help me
save my home and community from dangerous levels of methane in our water? Where
is the justice for my community?”

               On Christmas Eve, the EPA Inspector General reported that EPA
Region 6 was justified in intervening to protect Lipsky. However, it did not
adequately explain why EPA withdrew. The report only said that EPA’s withdrawal
“did not violate” laws or rules in doing so.”



Water Burns in Texas- EPA Decides
Flaming Water is A-okay

               “ Yesterday there was a hearing in DC on the
supposed EPA overreach in Texas.  Steve
Lipsky attended the hearing but was not invited to give testimony. I didn’t
attend but I heard from several sources that “the Republicans” laughed in his
face, pointed and took pictures of him. Lamar Smith seemed to be the biggest
offender. Stay classy and mature fellas.

Porter, Texas Railroad (RRC) Commissioner, who has never been to Steve Lipsky’s
home to witness his water lighting on fire, gave testimony that was
outrageously false, deceptive and misleading. “




15. Monroeville Tech Company's Equipment Detects Gas Leaks


The DEP in August approved regulations that
require drillers to either start monitoring their entire well sites for gas
leaks or seek detailed air pollution permits.
There's an ongoing national
effort spearheaded by the Environmental Defense Fund — with help from industry
and universities — to figure out how much methane the gas industry leaks and
whether increased gas production will quicken climate change.

               Rel-Tek has designed a system to spot gas leaks at outdoor well sites — equipment
that will help drillers address concerns about air pollution from greenhouse
gases that may escape during fracking
. “With the enormous quantity of wells
out there, I think the market is pretty big,” Ketley said. “It's just an
enormous burgeoning market.”

has long done work in garages for vehicles using natural gas fuel, buoyed by a
$1 million deal with the transit agency in the nation's capital. that work has
pushed the company to new distribution deals and a bigger headquarters.




From Bob Donnan:
















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:  
               Checks to
our group should be made out to the Thomas
Merton Center/Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group. And in the Reminder line
please write- Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group
. The reason for this
is that we are one project of 12 at Thomas Merton. You can send your check to:
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group, PO Box 1040, Latrobe, PA, 15650. Or you
can give the check or cash to Lou Pochet or Jan Milburn.
               To make a contribution to our
group using a credit card, go
to  Look for the contribute
button, then scroll down the list of organizations to direct money to. We are
listed as the Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group.
be sure to write Westmoreland Marcellus
Citizens’ Group
on the bottom of your check
so that WMCG receives the
funding, since we are just one project of many of the Thomas Merton Center. You
can also give your donation to Lou Pochet or Jan Milburn.








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.
President-Jan Milburn
Treasurer and Thomas Merton Liason-Lou Pochet
Secretary-Ron Nordstrom
Facebook Coordinator-Elizabeth Nordstrom

Science Advisor-Dr. Cynthia Walter
To receive our news updates, please email jan at
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the subject line