Friday, March 7, 2014

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens' Group Updates, March 6, 2014

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
                                March 6, 2014
To receive updates which includes photos, please email jan at

*  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, the Pollocks, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, Gloria Forouzan, Elizabeth Donahue, 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.

***The Climate Marchers Are Coming! 

“They left Los Angeles March 1st and have Pittsburgh, Irwin, Greensburg, Ligonier etc on their itinerary.  I've already sent a welcome to them to count on warm hospitality in Greensburg.  Dates are not firm yet, but I suspect it to be early May.” 


B. Survil, Ph:   724-850-1616


*** Act 13 Forum – You Can Participate On-Line

We are invited to attend in Philadelphia (with pre-registration), or we can view the live webcast:

To view the live webcast on or after March 13th, please visit:

(Registration is only required for those attending the event in-person)


Our Water, Our Air, Our Communities - And Forced Gas Drilling?

The Inside story on the landmark court case that overturned the pro-drilling Act 13

and recognized our constitutional right to a healthy environment.



***Triple Divide Showing-- Fracking, With Liberty & Justice For All

Wednesday, March 12

6:30 PM


To order tickets:

Only 96 seats are available.

A special screening of investigative documentary Triple Divide and discussion about fracking

PITTSBURGH—Catch a special screening and discussion of Triple Divide, an investigative documentary about the impacts from fracking in Pennsylvania, on March 12th, 6:30 PM at Bricolage. It’s a film about the complex subject of fracking and has been called “a bombshell that could reverberate across the state" by Wilkes-Barre Times Leader.

                This debut documentary by journalists Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman reveals how the state’s "world-class regulations” fall short in protecting people, communities, and the environment.  “We wanted to look at what impacts are occurring and how they’re being handled," says Pribanic. "If the state and industry say fracking’s under control, we wanted to see how. It’s only when we see the evidence that we can cast the stone."

                “Pennsylvania has some of the best environmental laws in the country, but they aren't being enforced," says Troutman. "In addition, we’ve found during our investigation that basic freedoms which are supposed to be guaranteed to all Americans are being stripped from communities faced with fracking.”

                Academy Award-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo co-narrates the documentary, which is named after the triple continental divide in Potter County, Pennsylvania, one of four unique watersheds in North America where three major rivers begin—including the Allegheny River—and flow to separate parts of the continent.

                Discussion with the filmmakers and expert panelists will be moderated by Bill Flanagan, host of “Our Region’s Business” on WPXI-TV. Panelists for discussion include attorney John Smith, who led the case that deemed key provisions of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas law Act 13 unconstitutional,

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, engineer John Detwiler, who’s active in the group Marcellus Protest calling for a halt on fossil fuel extraction, and Dr. Kent Moors, director of the Energy Policy Research Group at Duquesne University.

                “We believe informed citizens are better citizens”, says Jeffrey Carpenter, artistic director at Bricolage. “With so many critical issues facing our community it's important that we create a space to ask questions and hear from thought leaders to help broaden perspectives and promote problem-solving. We believe using art as a crowbar to open the door to dialogue can make those conversations easier to begin and less intimidating to participate in."

                “The boom in unconventional gas extraction has created the same debate that we see here in PA in communities around the world,” said Dr. Steven E. Sokol, President and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. "On the one hand, there are proponents of fracking because of the

opportunities offered by gas. On the other hand, people are concerned about the environmental and health impacts. This is both a local and a global issue."

                Refreshments will be served before the screening which starts at 6:30 PM. Doors open at 6:00 PM and tickets are $15. The Fifth Wall Series is sponsored by World Affairs Council. For more information call Bricolage at 412-471-0999. For previews of the film see



John Detwiler

John Detwiler earned a PhD in engineering and is a Registered Professional Engineer in Pennsylvania.  He is now retired from a career in strategic business consulting and in project management of large-scale engineering works.  As an entrepreneur, he was the co-founder, co-owner and chief operating officer of a privately held engineering company with profit-and-loss responsibility for multi-million dollar capital projects.  Mr. Detwiler has served in many sectors and industries, including:  manufacturing, defense, energy and public utilities, local government, banking and health care.  He is an active member of Marcellus Protest, a citizen group working for a total halt to hydrofracturing of fossil fuel deposits. Marcellus Protest has been a driving force behind the City of Pittsburgh's ban on fracking and is now part of the campaign to keep oil and gas operations out of Allegheny County Parks.


County Executive Rich Fitzgerald

Rich Fitzgerald grew up in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield-Garfield neighborhood.  He earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a business minor from Carnegie Mellon University.  Rich started a small business, Aquenef, which provides water treatment equipment and services for industry in the Western Pennsylvania region.

Rich worked on the campaign to change the form of government in Allegheny County.  In 1999, he ran for one of the district council seats on the newly-formed County Council and was elected to represent a district that included suburban municipalities and city neighborhoods.  He held the seat for twelve years and was elected as Council President four times before leaving to run for the office of County Executive.

As County Executive, he is focused on economic development of the region and job creation and works with companies on a weekly basis to address the issues that are priorities to them in growing and being supported in the county.  That focus includes making our airport better, ensuring our public transit system is reliable and sustainable, and providing a climate where a skilled workforce is a key component of our growth.  Rich’s interest in making government more effective and efficient began with the consolidation of row offices when he was on Council, has expanded to include a top to bottom review of county departments and functions by the County Manager and direction to make changes to ensure that county government is responsive to taxpayers and protects their interests.


Dr. Kent Moors

Dr. Moors is the Executive Chair of the Global Energy Symposium, founder and editor of The Oil and Energy Investor, and President of oil and gas consultant ASIDA, Inc. An internationally recognized expert in oil and gas policy/finance and risk assessment, Dr. Moors, has advised 27 world governments and been a consultant to private companies, financial institutions, civic movements/organizations and law firms in 29 countries. In addition to conventional oil and gas, he has experience dealing with shale gas, coal bed methane, tight gas, tight/shale oil and oil sands projects throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Poland, Australia, and North Africa.


John Smith

Attorney John M. Smith, Esq. is a Partner and Founder of the law firm of Smith Butz located in Southpointe, Washington County, Pennsylvania. Attorney Smith is lead counsel for the local municipalities in the Robinson v. Commonwealth (Act 13) case, where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared provisions in the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act unconstitutional. The Act would have required all zoning districts, including residential to allow drilling and fracking operations as well as waste water impoundments with a minimum setback of 300 feet from homes and schools. Smith focuses his practice on oil and gas, land use, local governments and litigation matters, and he is currently the Solicitor for several municipalities including Peters and Cecil Townships. Attorney Smith is involved with several litigation matters representing clients who have alleged harm from oil and gas activities, including contaminated water. He's also filed civil actions against the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection alleging the Departments failure to properly enforce Pennsylvania law.



TAKE Action!!

 ***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-DUE MARCH 14—That’s Friday- if you haven’t yet submitted your comments you can still do so.
            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


           Petitions to DEP To Ban Frack Pits:

***1.   Petition From Penn Environment

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


***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 hearing.


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.

Instead 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 Center.

 Public broadcasting like all media outlets is failing us.

Briget shields

WESA Facebook page


***Help Needed for Pittsburgh Parks!!

From Doug Shields


Thanks for signing the petition to stop fracking Allegheny County Parks!   Over 3,600 have signed!

Things are heating up in Allegheny County Council with regard to drilling under and around Deer Lakes Park.

We need you help more than ever!  I ask that you sign up at the local PROTECT OUR PARKS web page here:


Numerous meetings have been held between citizens and County Council Members. While these discussions have been cordial, the County Council, as of yet, has taken any action to conduct public informational meetings. It is also unclear if they appreciate their Constitutional obligations as outlined in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision related to Article I, Section 27, of the PA Constitution.

There were four (4) major well fires two weeks ago, notably the Chevron well blowout in Greene County where, tragically, one worker was killed and another injured. It is time we put a stop to this risky business!


Please take the time to contact the Council and let them know you are opposed to leasing of drilling rights in Deer Lakes Park.   All are invited to communicate with the Council. They truly do want to hear your opinions.  Please be courteous.  Here is a link for Allegheny County residents to determine who your County Council member is: 


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


***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?



*** 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.”


From Jan:

                At 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 read.  The dylos monitor could detect 2.5 particulate but had no continuous read.

                The 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 abnormal.


***Isaak Walton Presentations-- A series of presentations on how shale gas drilling can affect water, air, and property, as well as citizens' rights and state laws like Act 13.

1 - Ken DeFalla - Henry Enstrom Chapter - Water Quality

2 - Dr John Stolz - The Woodlands

3 - Dr Ben Stout - Charleston MCHM spill

4 - Dr Dorothy Basset - Energy Independence falsehoods

5 - John Smith, Esq - Act 13 Updates

6 - Raina Rippel, SWPA-EHP - Health Effects and Air Testing

7 - Ron Gulla - What to expect from the industry

8 - Linda & David Headley - Living close to drilling

9 - Joe Bezak - Jailed for stopping pollution of his land


*** Mat Trewern Broadcast Is Posted

Dr Walter was interviewed by Mat Trewern. They visited fracking sites and frack- affected sites, discussing environmental issues.

 Trewern wrote to Dr Walter:  “Just to let you know that my radio report is going out this week on various local BBC radio stations around the UK - at various times.

 It will be posted on

Thanks again for all your help.

 Mat Trewern

BBC Radio


Fracking News

1. Gas Industry Asks To intervene In Act 13 Case

            “Pennsylvania’s three major gas industry trade groups have filed a petition to intervene in the ongoing court battle over the state’s oil and gas law, known as Act 13.


            In December, the state Supreme Court struck down portions of the 2012 law that restricted the ability of local governments to zone oil and gas development, but the justices left a number of matters unresolved and sent the case back to the lower Commonwealth Court.

            The court is now reviewing, among other things, whether the rest of Act 13 can stand without the sections that were struck down.

            The case is primarily between local governments who challenged the law and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. However, attorneys representing the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association filed a petition today arguing they should also be part of the case.

            “Because key provisions of Act 13 were struck down, there are significant questions regarding the certainty of investments and ability for the natural gas industry to develop across the Commonwealth that necessitated our motion to intervene,” says Stephanie Catarino Wissman, Executive Director of API’s Pennsylvania’s division.

            The petition points out that oil and gas operators have paid over $400 million so far in Act 13 impact fees. The attorneys argue the industry has a “distinct and unique interest” in whether the court upholds the fee.

            “This Court’s decision will materially affect the legal landscape for the oil and gas industry,” they write. “No current party to this case must actually plan for, finance, and comply with Act 13s extensive list of regulatory requirements.”

            Jordan Yeager is an attorney who represents local governments who challenged Act 13. He says he would be surprised if the court allows the trade groups to be a party to the case.

            “It’s really a lot of lawyering,” he says. “The industry tried this before, and the court said no. There are no new claims in the case. They don’t get to revisit questions the court has already decided.”

            In January, the Corbett administration asked the state Supreme Court to reconsider its decision, but the court recently denied the request.”


2. Mars Area Residents Plead with Board To Not Drill Near Schools


“Mar 4 – Mars Area School District residents urged school board members to reject Rex Energy's proposal to conduct horizontal drilling for oil and gas underneath district property along Route 228. About 60 residents attended a school board meeting in which Rex representatives outlined their proposal: The company would pay just over $1 million in a five-year lease for the right to drill under the property and share 15 % of the royalties from any oil or gas extracted. “If there are any risks whatsoever, the school district shouldn't be doing this,” said Amy Nassif of Adams, who has two children in the district.

            Duane Maust, manager of land for Rex Energy, said the company would drill horizontally from property in Middlesex off Denny Road — about 4,000 feet from the district's property, which encompasses about 175 acres. The grassroots group Protect Our Children — which is partnering with members of Marcellus Outreach Butler and Marcellus Outreach Middlesex — cited the Feb. 11 explosion of a natural gas well site in Dunkard in Greene County. The group called for Mars Area directors to reject the proposal. The explosion killed one gas worker, and it took crews until Feb. 25 to cap the second well at the site and stop leaking gas.”


3. Does Refuse To Cross Pipeline


“Harrisburg — Game commissioners handled a wide range of important business at their recent meeting here, and yet the most memorable episode did not require their action.


It came during the report presented by the agency’s chief deer biologist Chris Rosenberry, who among other topics, summarized ongoing deer research efforts.

“Last year, we conducted field studies in three areas of Pennsylvania,” he said.

“We continued our second year of a three-year study on deer survival and mortality in Wildlife Management Unit 5C and we started the Deer-Forest Study on the Bald Eagle, Rothrock and Susquehannock state forests.”

            In both studies, radio-collared and ear-tagged deer provide important survival and movement information, Rosenberry noted.

These animals are captured, marked with radio-collars and ear tags, and then released at the capture site.

            “Throughout the life of the deer or collar, we can track their movements and survival,” he explained.

            It was the example of a GPS-   collared doe he offered that had folks talking afterward.

            He showed commissioners a slide exhibiting more than 2,600 data points, clearly delineating the deer’s territory.

            “This slide provides an example of the movements of an adult female on one of our state forest study areas,” Rosenberry said.

            “The boundaries of this deer’s home range are interesting for a number of reasons. There appears to be a distinct clumping of locations along the southern and western boundaries.

            The reasons for these boundaries makes more sense when we look at a topo map, Rosenberry pointed out.

            First, looking at the southern boundary, one notices that it tends to follow a road. “This is not completely unexpected, as we have seen roads influencing deer home ranges in past studies,” he said.

            But the western boundary, where there are no obvious terrain features or roads that would explain a sharp, linear boundary for the doe was unexpected. That is until one notices a faint dashed line, that runs north to south.

            It is a buried pipeline.

            “I am sure most of us would never think a pipeline would be such a significant factor for deer movements, Rosenberry said. “But, in this case, this deer rarely crossed into the woods on the other side of the pipeline.”

            For Game Commission deer biologists, it is just another example of the interesting things they see when they put a GPS unit on a deer and follow its movements.

            “That’s one of the advantages of radio-collared deer in that we can collect a lot of data and change the frequencies in which the data is collected and create a large data set,” Rosenberry said.

            “I don’t know that too many folks would have guessed offhand that the pipeline would have had that much impact on a deer in a forested environment.”


4. Colorado Adopts Sweeping New Air Pollution Rules for Oil / Gas Industry

             “Clean air and climate advocates across Colorado are celebrating a major victory this week, after air quality officials approved an unprecedented plan to reduce air pollution stemming from oil and gas drilling across the state.

            The plan includes the nation’s first statewide limit on emissions of methane, a component of natural gas that, when released directly in the atmosphere rather than being burned, becomes a potent smog-creating greenhouse gas.

            The new rules were adopted by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission on Sunday, Feb. 23, following a public hearing in Aurora.

            State officials say the rules will dramatically reduce emissions of the gases that contribute to ozone pollution, by among other things, requiring a comprehensive leak detection and repair program for oil and gas facilities to cut down on so-called fugitive emissions of methane, a byproduct of fracking.

            Members of the Ridgway Ouray Community Council successfully sought local and county government support for the adoption of the new rules, which they argued, represented a balance between industry interests and environmental interests to protect Colorado’s air.

            The rules were originally conceived as a smog-busting measure for the Front Range, where federal air quality standards are routinely violated, particularly for ozone. But, ROCC Energy Committee Chair Al Lowande pointed out to the Ouray Board of County Commissioners at a recent presentation, the Western Slope is hardly immune to the problem of polluting methane emissions, particularly in counties that have a lot of oil and gas drilling.

            Ironically, a coalition of these counties, bolstered by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and Colorado Petroleum Association, advocated against having the new regulations apply to the Western Slope, saying that they would hurt small drillers. In the end, their concerns were overruled. Meanwhile, three of the state’s largest oil and gas drilling companies threw their weight behind the effort to get the rules passed.

            ROCC member Jon Esty was among the legions of environmental advocates across the state who sent in comments to state air quality officials, urging the commission to adopt the new rules. He applauded the commission’s decision to implement the regulations statewide.

            The new rules are part of the cost of doing business,” he said. “If we are going to have that kind of development here, it is important to remember how it impacts people. Oil and gas do need to integrate local concerns, and if it costs a couple of pennies more to the gallon to implement the new rules, so be it. We can’t afford to lose our environmental quality through fracking.”

            Gov. Hickenlooper, well-known for his pro-fracking stance, helmed the effort at the state level to pass the new rules, calling for further action to minimize potential negative air quality impacts associated with oil and gas development.

            Highlights of the rules include:

The most comprehensive leak detection and repair program for oil and gas facilities in the country.

• Regulation of a range of hydrocarbon emissions that can contribute to harmful ozone formation as well as climate change. The rules include first-in-the-nation provisions to reduce methane emissions. 

• Implementation of the rules will reduce more than 92,000 tons per year of volatile organic compound emissions. VOC emissions contribute to ground level ozone that has adverse impacts upon public health and environment, including increased asthma and other respiratory ailments. 

• Implementation of the rules also will reduce of more than 60,000 tons per year of methane emissions.

• Expanded control and inspection requirements for storage, including a first-in-the-nation standard to ensure emissions from tanks are captured and routed to the required control devices. 

• Expands ozone non-attainment area requirements for auto-igniters and low bleed pneumatics to the rest of the state. 

• Require no-bleed (zero emission) pneumatics where electricity is available (in lieu of using gas to actuate pneumatic). 

• Require gas stream at well production facilities either be connected to a pipeline or routed to a control device from the date of first production. 

• Require more stringent control requirements for glycol dehydrators. 

• Require use of best management practices to minimize the need for – and emissions from – well maintenance. 

• Many operators will use infrared (IR) cameras, which allow people to see emissions that otherwise would be invisible to the naked eye. Colorado obtained IR cameras for the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources inspectors last year. They are an effective tool in identifying leaking equipment and reducing pollution. 

• Comprehensive recordkeeping and reporting requirements to help ensure transparent and accurate information. 

• Adoption of federal oil and gas standards that complement the state-specific rules.


 5. Children’s Exposure To Toxins

Dr Ned Ketyer

            “…And toluene — a solvent and potent neurotoxin — has long been suspected in causing birth defects.  In fact, a recent study by the National Institute of Environmental Health (part of the NIH) implicates toluene (and benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and other toxins) — chemicals used in natural gas development: drilling, fracking, extracting, and transporting — with specific birth defects in its succinct conclusion:

            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 [congenital heart diseases] and possibly NTDs [neural tube defects].


            The first thing we could all do is at least acknowledge there is a problem.  We could talk amongst ourselves — maybe find some middle ground — instead of putting our heads in the sand.  As stewards of the earth, are we really okay poisoning nature, ourselves, and our offspring?  Are we?

            It seems as if plenty of people are.  People who think the air smells fine and the water tastes good.  (Let’s not kid ourselves: air should have no smell — or at least no bad smell; water should have no taste.)  People who promise that fracking is safe, or that coal is clean, or that poisonous chemicals in a fetus’s cord blood is the price we must pay for living in the twenty-first century.  A good friend (whose opinion I do trust) warns me this type of “progress” is bringing its poison to my own town:

            With probably 800+ leased properties in Peters Township, we are definitely close to our first wells.  EQT and Rice Energy have purchased more leases in the past year.

            First comes the seismic testing, then the drilling, then the pipelines, then the compressor stations. After seeing for myself all the huge processing plants being built in eastern Ohio, it all became crystal clear: this will be one huge oil and gas patch with rapidly deteriorating air quality. I worry about the kids the most.”


6. Range Resources Appeals Mt. Pleasant’s Decision

( Range Resources v. Mt Pleasant Twp…

“Remember when Range said they weren’t going to drill there anymore? Imagine having one of Range’s huge stink pits in your backyard, along with everything that comes with it. Skip the cholesterol level in your blood test, how about some benzene & toluene?”  Bob Donnan)


            “Mar 3 – Nearly nine months after Mt. Pleasant Township Zoning Hearing Board issued notices of violation related to four Marcellus Shale water impoundments, the matter will head to court for deliberation. Range Resources, which owns and operates the four impoundments, is appealing a Jan. 30 decision by the zoning board that upheld the

                                                                                    Photo us

four notices of violation. Range attorney Shawn Gallagher filed the complaint in Washington County Court Friday.

                        Range has contended in numerous zoning board hearings that all four impoundments – Stewart, Klingerman, Cowden and Carter – are principal nonconforming uses and thus are permitted within the township. Zoning board members ultimately decided that Range violated township zoning ordinance by failing to restore the impoundments after completing all nearby frack wells. Range expressed its long-term plans for the impoundments and stated there are 19 to 25 wells located within the township on Range’s current drilling schedule.”


7. More Monitoring Of Oil and Gas Needed

(And that isn’t going to happen in PA with $2 million cut that was to investigate health issues. Jan)

          Nearly 200 people had gathered at the University of Pennsylvania last month for what one of the organizers, Trevor Penning, director of Penn's Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, said was likely a first - a summary of the current science.

            It wasn't pretty. Speaker after speaker spoke of gaps and uncertainties. Even when they had results to share, they cautioned that the conclusions were preliminary, the limitations many.

            The monitoring, they said, has not kept up with the pace of development.

                        Penning thought some of the strongest results came from studies described by Lisa McKenzie, a Colorado School of Public Health research associate.

            One found an elevated risk for neurological effects among people living close to natural gas drilling. Another found a higher incidence of congenital heart defects in children of mothers living close to wells.

            Similarly, comparing health-care use in Pennsylvania counties which have natural gas development with neighboring counties without it, Penn medicine professor Reynold Panettieri Jr. found "signals" of neurologic effects and decreased "normal newborn rates."

            But as Penning noted, these were broad epidemiological studies. What's missing, so far, are "good exposure data to support cause and effect."

            At one point, Joseph Minott, executive director of the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council, left the auditorium, shaking his head. "If you live in the community, you don't have the answers," he said.

            Instead, the communities have anecdotal reports - sickened livestock, dead pets, various human health maladies.

            A residents' group, Breathe Easy Susquehanna County, is turning to citizen science. "Mediocre data is better than no data," wrote a group founder, Rebecca Roter, in a statement she sent because she couldn't attend.

            So when Minott got to the podium, he was angry. He said health and environmental impacts "have not been a high priority" in the state. Studies are lacking, and "there seems to be little interest" by officials to provide funds.

            As State Rep. Greg Vitali (D., Delaware County) noted earlier in the day, $2 million for investigating health problems from natural gas development was cut from the 2012 state natural gas law, Act 13.

`           As Penning pointed out later, science takes time. It costs money. "People who are living near this on a daily basis have what they perceive as real concerns . . . . But we have to make sure the answers we give them are credible and trustworthy."


 8. MSNBC On Exxon CEO’s Fracking Lawsuit

(To watch the videos, use the link at the end of the article. jan)

            “Last week, as reported on EcoWatch, the Wall Street Journal broke a story about ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson joining a lawsuit that cites the consequences of fracking operations as reason to block the construction of a 160-foot water tower next to his Texas home. The tower would supply water to nearby fracking operations and the plaintiffs argue the project could lead to increased noise and traffic at the drilling site.

            Last night, MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes went in-depth on the story, clarifying some of the controversy surrounding the lawsuit.

            “This is not about the technical definition of fracking, it’s about whether we’re going to have an honest, reality-based, debate about the costs of our energy policies,” said co-host Ari Melber. “And look, those costs can get pretty ugly: unsightly water towers, fracking wells, strange smells and the kind of air and noise pollution just about anyone would avoid if they could afford it.”

            Former mayor Calvin Tillman of Dish, TX—an area strongly affected  by fracking—joined the show to talk about the health impacts of fracking, including nosebleeds, which forced his family to leave their home.

            Then, Chris Hayes discussed the issue with Josh Fox, the director and producer of the movies Gasland and Gasland 2.

            Also weighing in is former ExxonMobil executive Lou Allstadt, with an open letter to Rex Tillerson, published on No Fracking Way:


Dear Rex,

We have never met, but I worked for your company for six months immediately after the ExxonMobil merger, the implementation of which I coordinated from the Mobil side. That was after thirty years with Mobil Oil Corporation, where just prior to the merger I had been an Executive Vice President and Operating Officer for Exploration and Producing in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. I now live in upstate New York. For the past five years, I have been actively trying to keep your company and the rest of the industry from fracking here. I understand from several press articles that you have fracking issues of your own, with a fracking water tower and truck traffic possibly detracting from your view and the value of your home.

                In response to the prospect of fracking ruining our communities, many New York towns have passed zoning laws that prohibit heavy industry, including any activities associated with drilling for oil and gas. Those laws, along with very little prospect for economic gas production in New York, mean that we probably will not have to look at fracking water towers, let alone live next to fracking well pads. I say probably, because your industry is still fighting those zoning laws in the courts.

                Ironically, your reasoning at the Bartonville, Texas town council meetings is virtually identical to the reasoning that I and many other citizens used to convince our local town councils to pass laws that prohibit the very problem you have encountered, plus all of the other infrastructure and waste disposal issues associated with fracking.

                No one should have to live near well pads, compression stations, incessant heavy truck traffic, or fracking water towers, nor should they have their water or air contaminated. You and I love the places where we live, but in the end, if they are ruined by fracking or frack water tanks, we can afford to pack up and go someplace else. However, many people can’t afford to move away when they can no longer drink the water or breathe the air because they are too close to one of your well pads or compressor stations.

                My efforts to prevent fracking started over water — not the prospect of having to see a water tank from my home, but rather regulations that would allow gas wells near our sources of drinking water, in addition to well pads next to our homes, schools, hospitals and nursing homes. These issues are legitimate, but they are localized. I am now much more concerned with the greenhouse gas impacts of fossil fuels in general, and particularly the huge impact of methane emissions from natural gas production and transportation.  These are global problems that local zoning cannot protect against. Only a major shift toward renewable energy sources can begin to mitigate their catastrophic climate impacts.

                Before closing, I should explain why I have referred to ExxonMobil as “your company.” For several years after retiring I thought of ExxonMobil as “my company.” I thought that the company’s rigor and discipline in investing in sound projects was as good as it gets, and ExxonMobil was my largest single investment. I no longer own any shares of ExxonMobil or any other fossil fuel company.  I would prefer to be an early investor in alternative energy for the 21st century rather than hanging on to dwindling prospects for investments in 19th and 20th century fossil fuels.

                It is time that ExxonMobil started shifting away from oil and gas, and toward alternatives — both for environmental reasons and to protect the long-term viability of the company. Many large energy producers and consumers, including ExxonMobil, are building a carbon fee into their long-term planning assumptions.  Actively supporting the phase-in of a carbon fee would be one way to move the company into the 21st century. Recognizing that methane emissions disqualify natural gas as a “bridge fuel” is another.

                Good luck with that fracking water tank. I hope you don’t have to move, and also that you will help a lot of other people stay in the homes they love.


Lou Allstadt”


9. Los Angeles Moratorium Against Fracking

            “Los Angeles is primed to become the first oil-producing city in California and the largest city in the United States to place a moratorium on fracking.

            The Los Angeles city council unanimously voted Friday on a draft ordinance that prohibits "well stimulation" by hydraulic fracturing, acidizing and other controversial oil and gas drilling methods.

            "Until these radical methods of oil and gas extraction are at the very least covered by the Safe Drinking Water Act, until chemicals are disclosed and problems are honestly reported, until we're safe from earthquakes, until our atmosphere is safe from methane leaks, we need a fracking moratorium," Councilman Paul Koretz, who introduced the motion along with Councilmember Mike Bonin, told a cheering crowd before the meeting.

            As is the case all over the United States, drilling in Los Angeles largely affects minority populations since most extraction occurs in Latino- and African American-dominated neighborhoods

            “Today is the beginning of justice for all Los Angeles communities facing these wells,” said Monic Uriarte, a resident of the Esperanza Community Housing Corporation—whose campaign People Not Pozos bussed 50 residents to City Hall for the vote.

            “For years, the University Park neighborhood has been assaulted by Allenco Energy Corporation’s toxic emissions from their oil extraction activities. We were getting sick from the emissions, with health symptoms including spontaneous nose bleeding, headaches, asthma, and much more. No one should live in the shadow of an oil well,” Uriarte continued.

            The moratorium motion now goes before the city attorney’s office to be written as a zoning ordinance and will then return to council for a final vote.”


10. Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions In Texas

KARNES CITY, Texas -- When Lynn Buehring leaves her doctor's office in San Antonio she touches her inhaler to be sure it's close.


About 40 miles down the road, flares trailing smoke appear. A yellow-brown haze can fill the horizon as Buehring, 58, passes into Karnes County, where she was born. Today, the ranch house she shares with husband Shelby, 66, is at the epicenter of one of the nation's biggest oil and gas booms, with more than 50 wells within 2.5 miles.

            Known as the Eagle Ford Shale play, this 400-mile-long swath of oil and gas extraction stretches from East-Central Texas to the Mexico border. Since 2008, more than 7,000 wells have been sunk with an additional 5,500 approved. Energy companies, cheered by the state, envision thousands more. It's an "absolute game-changer," an industry spokesman said.

            From their porch, the Buehrings can see and smell this gold rush. Three nearby processing facilities have permission to release 189 tons of volatile organic compounds, a class of toxic chemicals that includes benzene and formaldehyde, each year. That's more than Valero's Houston Oil Refinery disgorged in 2012. They also are allowed to release 142 tons of nitrogen oxides and 95 tons of carbon monoxide per year.

            The regulation of oil and gas extraction falls primarily to the states, whose rules vary dramatically. States also enforce the federal Clean Air Act - a problematic situation in Texas, which has sued the U.S. EPA 18 times in the last decade.

            For eight months, InsideClimate News, the Center for Public Integrity and The Weather Channel have examined what Texas, the nation's biggest oil producer, has done to protect people in the Eagle Ford.

            What's happening in Texas also matters in Pennsylvania, North Dakota and other states where hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has made it profitable to extract energy from shale. Our investigation reveals a Texas system that protects industry more than the public:


-Air monitoring is so flawed that Texas knows little about pollution in the Eagle Ford, an area nearly twice the size of Massachusetts.


-Thousands of facilities are allowed to self-audit their emissions, so authorities have no idea how much pollution they release.


-Companies that break the law are rarely fined. Of 284 complaints Eagle Ford residents filed in a recent four-year period, only two resulted in fines despite 164 documented violations.


-Texas lawmakers have cut the state's budget for environmental regulation since the Eagle Ford boom began, from $555 million in 2008 to $372 million in 2014.


-Since 2009, the number of unplanned toxic air releases associated with oil and gas production increased 100 percent statewide.


-Texas officials are often industry defenders, so residents of drilling areas are usually left to fend for themselves. Oil money is so ingrained in Texas culture that people like the Buehrings tend to become collateral damage.


-The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is led by three commissioners appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, who favors dismantling the EPA. TCEQ officials often move to lucrative jobs as lobbyists for the industry they regulated. The Texas Railroad Commission, which issues drilling permits and regulates other aspects of oil and gas, is controlled by three elected commissioners who accepted more than $2 million in campaign contributions from the industry during the 2012 election cycle, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.


-State legislators who regulate the industry are often tied to it. Nearly one in four lawmakers, or their spouses, has a financial interest in at least one energy company active in the Eagle Ford, a Center for Public Integrity analysis of personal financial disclosure forms shows.


                "I believe if you're anti-oil-and-gas, you're anti-Texas," Republican state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran said in September.

                The TCEQ declined interview requests. In a statement, it said air pollution isn't a problem. "The air monitoring data evaluated to date indicate that air pollutants in the Eagle Ford Shale area have not been a concern either from a long-term or short-term perspective," the TCEQ said. "Therefore, we would not expect adverse health effects..."

                But a memorandum obtained through a public records request indicates the TCEQ knows its air monitoring is flawed. "The executive director has extensive records of underestimated or previously undetected emissions from oil and gas sites. These are not isolated instances but have occurred statewide and indicate a pattern," Richard A. Hyde, then deputy director of the TCEQ's Office of Permitting and Registration, wrote in the Jan. 7, 2011, memo. Hyde, now executive director, declined to comment.

                Since drilling came to Karnes County, Lynn Buehring's asthma has worsened. Instead of using a breathing machine once or twice a month, she sometimes needs it every day. She has migraines so intense they've induced temporary blindness.

                "There's nothing we can do," Shelby Buehring said. "Nobody is listening to us....I hate it here."

                But others say the boom is worth it.

                "The Eagle Ford Shale is the biggest economic investment zone in the entire world," said Steve Everley, who works in Washington, D.C., for Energy in Depth, an arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. "I mean, are we going to prevent people from having jobs? Are we going to relegate an entire section of the state to continued poverty or are we going to move forward with economic development?"

(InsideClimate News is a nonprofit, non-partisan news organization that covers clean energy, carbon energy, nuclear energy and environmental science. More information is available at


InsideClimate News

Read more here:


11.  Static Electricity-  Massive Drill Site Explosion In Colorado

 Mar 4 - GREELEY, Colo. — Static electricity is suspected of sparking a massive explosion and fire at an oil and gas drilling site in northern Colorado that injured two workers. The explosion north of Greeley shook houses and set a fire that could be seen for miles.

             The explosion happened as workers were pulling an oil and water mixture out of storage tanks to take to a separator.


Photo by Bob Donnan


 We are very appreciative of donations to our group.
            With your help, we have handed out thousands of flyers on the health and environmental effects of fracking, sponsored numerous public meetings, and provided information to citizens and officials countywide. If you would like to support our efforts:  
             In the Reminder line please write- Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group (no abbreviations).  You can send checks to Jan Milburn, 114 Mountain Road, Ligonier, PA 15658 or you can give your check to Jan or Lou Pochet, our treasurer. Cash can also be accepted.
            To make a contribution to our group using a credit card, go to  Look for the contribute button, then scroll down the list of organizations to direct money to. We are listed as the Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group.
            Please be sure to write Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group on the bottom of your check so that WMCG receives the funding since we are just one project of many of the Thomas Merton Center.


Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s GroupMission Statement
            WMCG is a project of the Thomas Merton Society
        To raise the public’s general awareness and understanding of the impacts of Marcellus drilling on the natural environment, health, and long-term economies of local communities.
Officers: President-Jan Milburn
              Treasurer and Thomas Merton Liason-Lou Pochet
              Secretary-Ron Nordstrom
              Facebook Coordinator-Elizabeth Nordstrom
              Blogsite –April Jackman
              Science Advisor-Dr. Cynthia Walter
To receive our news updates, please email jan at
To remove your name from our list please put “remove name from list’ in the subject line