Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates March 20, 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 http://westmorelandmarcellus.blogspot.com/
* Our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
* To discuss candidates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/VoteProEarth/
* 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: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
WMCG Thank You
* Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, the Pollocks, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, Elizabeth Donahue, and Bob Schmetzer.
*** WMCG Meeting We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***Delmont Informational Meeting
Huntley and Huntley Activity in the Area
April 1, 2014 from 6:45pm-8:30pm. RSVP is requested.
Delmont Fire Hall
Recently, several people from the Delmont area reached out to us at the Mountain Watershed Association because they wanted to learn more about the activities of Huntley and Huntley, Ion Geophysical and other companies conducting shale gas related activities in your area. At the residents’ request we are holding a public meeting at the Delmont Volunteer Fire Department on April 1, 2014 from 6:45pm-8:30 pm. RSVP is requested.
The meeting will include a presentation on lease terms; insurance and mortgage issues; health and environmental impacts; what is and is not legally permissible; tracking activities using online tools; and other topics. The presentation will be followed by an in-depth question and answer session.
Through our experiences with industry we are aware that not all the facts are put on the table. We want to rectify this. We hope you will come and bring your neighbors so you can make an informed decision about what you want to do with your land in your community. If you do not attend this meeting we still recommend you seek professional counsel before signing any agreements.
For questions please call Kathryn or Nick at 724-455-4200 or e-mail email@example.com. Sincerely,
Kathryn Hilton, Community Organizer
***Deer Lakes Park Meeting –A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 2 at Deer Lakes High School. To comment at the public meeting sign up 24 hours before the meeting day.http://www.alleghenycounty.us/council/meetings/comment.aspx
***Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share
information with the public. ***
***Tenaska Plant Seeks to Be Sited in South Huntingdon, Westmoreland County***
Petition !! Please forward to your lists!
Please share the attached petition with residents of Westmoreland and all bordering
counties. We need each of you to share the petition with your email lists and any group with which you are affiliated. As stated in the petition, Westmoreland County cannot meet air standards for several criteria. Many areas of Westmoreland County are already listed as EPA non-attainment areas for ozone and particulate matter 2.5, so the county does not have the capacity to handle additional emissions that will contribute to the burden of ozone in the area as well as health impacts. According to the American Lung Association, every county in the Pittsburgh region except for Westmoreland County had fewer bad air days for ozone and daily particle pollution compared with the previous report. Westmoreland County was the only county to score a failing grade for particulate matter.
The Tenaska gas plant will add tons of pollution to already deteriorated air and dispose of waste water into the Youghiogheny River. Westmoreland County already has a higher incidence of disease that other counties in United States. The pollution doesn’t stop at the South Huntingdon Township border, it will travel to the surrounding townships and counties.
If you know of church groups or other organizations that will help with the petition please forward it and ask for their help.
***RON SLABE Thanks All for Signing Frack Pit Ban Petitions
On Tuesday, March 11, 2014, I was able to deliver our petition to Ban the Frack Pit with over 3800 signatures to the PA DEP's Environmental Quality Board in Harrisburg, PA. Along with several environmental groups, we brought petitions and letters and presented them to the PA DEP. Those petitions and letters, gathered with the help of such groups as Clean Water Action, PennEnvironment, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Sierra Club, Upper Burrell Citizens Against Marcellus Pollution, and several other environmental groups, had over 17,000 signatures demanding an end to open impoundments or what is commonly known as frack pits. Mr. Scott Perry, DEP Deputy Secretary, received us in the lobby of the DEP and accepted our petitions and letters. We who delivered those messages and the signers of those letters and petitions, spoke for the countless number of Pennsylvanians who are tired and fed up with the environmental degradation caused by these open impoundments or frack pits.
I cannot thank you enough for your signature and help in making this effort a great success. And remember, if you still haven't signed, you still have until tomorrow, March 14, which is the last day for accepting public comment on the proposed DEP regulations. The petition to Ban the Frack Pit with any additional signatures will be delivered electronically to the DEP.
Finally, I want to leave you with a most profound ballad written and sung by Kris Kitko, called the Frack Pit Love Song. It is a beautifully written piece of music which tells the true tale of the horrible consequences of the frack pit. Just click and listen. Give it about 20 seconds before the music starts. If you have trouble, just go to YouTube to find the "Frack Pit Love Song”
***Act 13 Forum Video Is Up
The video is split into 2 parts for a total viewing time of about 2 hours. There is a small amount of blank time (about a minute) at the beginning of Part 1, but just let it play...
Our Water, Our Air, Our Communities — And Forced Gas Drilling?
What: Delaware Riverkeeper Network hosted a forum with the lead litigators and litigants of the landmark Act 13 case – the case in which the conservative Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared that the rights of pure water, clean air, and a healthy environment, across the generations, must be protected by state and local legislators.
The forum included a discussion of how Act 13 came to be passed, how and why the legal challenge was formulated, including the interesting alliance between the 7 towns and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and the implications for environmental, municipal, and legislative decision making going forward.
***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. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
*** 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.”
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
***Frack Pit Ban Petition Presentation-Televised
From Ron Slabe
Check out my moment of Harrisburg fame when I delivered our petition to Ban the Frack Pit to the DEP in Harrisburg. I knew the cameras were rolling but only the Harrisburg stations were carrying it. Thanks to the Sierra Club, the TV footage is available. Click on the link "Harrisburg event" below to check out my "moment of fame." But more seriously, remember the dreadful consequences of these open oil & gas cesspools! Ron Slabe”
Drilling going on in Donegal
(Sample from Sky Truth Alert)
RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC Reports Drilling Started (SPUD) in Donegal Twp Township
RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC reports drilling started on 2014-03-12 00:00:00 at site OLD MCDONALD FARM UNIT 4H in Donegal Twp township, Washington county
RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC Reports Drilling Started (SPUD) in Donegal Twp Township
RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC reports drilling started on 2014-03-12 00:00:00 at site OLD MCDONALD FARM UNIT 2H in Donegal Twp township, Washington county
RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC Reports Drilling Started (SPUD) in Donegal Twp Township
RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC reports drilling started on 2014-03-11 00:00:00 at site OLD MCDONALD FARM UNIT 6H in Donegal Twp township, Washington county
RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC Reports Drilling Started (SPUD) in Donegal Twp Township
RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC reports drilling started on 2014-03-11 00:00:00 at site OLD MCDONALD FARM UNIT 5H in Donegal Twp township, Washington county
RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC Reports Drilling Started (SPUD) in Donegal Twp Township
RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC reports drilling started on 2014-03-11 00:00:00 at site OLD MCDONALD FARM UNIT 1H in Donegal Twp township, Washington county
1. Deer Lakes Park
“Allegheny County Council Vice President Nick Futules said a preliminary agreement that, if approved, would permit Range Resources to drill for gas under Deer Lakes Park will be introduced at Tuesday's regular County Council meeting.
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s office said the proposal contains a $4.7 million bonus payment, $3 million for a Park Improvement Fund and 18 % in royalties, which would go to the county for the duration of the lease.
“The county's participation in this makes this a win-win for the community,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “We are enhancing assurances for our residents, enhancing revenues for the county as well as the private land owners, and enhancing our community through the park improvements that can be made with these revenues.”
The lease would prohibit any operations from occurring in Deer Lakes Park, Fitzgerald's office said.
Futules, the chair of the parks committee, said the drilling proposal would go through a committee review and public hearing process before a vote by council to accept or reject it.
Fitzgerald said a public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 2 at Deer Lakes High School.
Range Resources and Huntley & Huntley submitted the lone proposal to drill under the park from well pads outside its boundaries.
For more than six months, some residents have voiced their opposition to the drilling in West Deer and Frazer during County Council meetings.”
2. Questions To Ask Your Local Officials-From Debbie
(This is an excellent list . Jan)
Debbie added these questions to the list:
-What chemicals will be used in the fracking fluids?
-How far will emissions travel?
-What radioactive materials will be brought back to the surface? (Who is testing for radioactivity? Jan)
-How and where will you dispose of the fracking waste?
-What baseline tests (for air and water) will you do before fracking begins?
-What ongoing testing will you do? How often? How will the results be made public?
(From Jan: How many pads will be constructed and how many wells will be located on each well pad?
Where will the gathering lines be located?
Where will condensate tanks be located and will there be permanent air monitoring?
How frequently will the well site be inspected for leakage of chemicals and for air/water testing? By whom? If a problem is detected, how many days are permitted for the problem to be fixed?
Will green completion be required in the lease contract? Flaring is toxic.)
Debbie provided this list of 26 questions that was used in 2010. Feel free to print it and pass it out to County Council and other local officials. They should have answers to ALL of these questions (and more) before they allow fracking.
Questions about fracking to ask your local officials:
1. How much water will be used to frack each well?
2. Where will the water come from?
3. What local water sources will provide water for the drilling projects? Please provide specific names and locations of each water source. Specifically, will public water be used?
4. How many trucks will be used for drilling operations? Please specify truck traffic per hour, per day, per week. Communities already experiencing this type of drilling have seen 200-300 trucks, per day, on local roads. Will this be true here?
5. Will drilling companies provide bonding for each of the local, county, or state roads used throughout the entire drilling process? If not, who will be responsible to repair all road damage? Who will assume all repair costs?
6. How many times will each gas well be “fracked?” Is it true wells can be “fracked” as many as 10 times?
7. Specifically, what chemicals, additives, surfactants, and/or solvents will be used during the “fracking” process? (See articles: “What’s in that Fracking Fluid?” and “18 Cows Die From Apparent Chemical Release”.)
8. Where will these hazardous chemicals be stored (prior to them being used in the fracking process)?
9. Specifically, how much of each chemical, additive, surfactant and/or solvent will be used during the “fracking” process(es)?
10. Where will the toxic brine and “fracking” water be stored after the drilling?
11. Will drillers create “frack ponds” on any local lands during the drilling process(es)? Specifically, where?
12. How large will each “frack pond” be in size: length, width, and depth?
13. Specifically, what will be held in these “frack ponds?” Will there be hazardous chemicals in these “frack ponds”? What are they?
14. Will these “frack ponds” be fenced? Using what type of fencing?
15. Where will the toxic brine and “fracking” water be disposed of? Please provide the approved facility name, address, and phone number, in writing.
16. Will PA DEP require drilling companies to have permits for Storm Water Management and/or Soil and Erosion/Sedimentation plans? If not, why not?
17. If there are storm water management and/or soil and erosion problems, who is responsible for all clean up costs? If drillers are not responsible for these clean up costs, will the landowners or the local municipality be responsible for these clean up costs?
18. Is the drilling operation restricted to daylight hours only? Or will the drilling and truck traffic take place 24 hrs per day – 7 days per week?
19. Will the PA DEP require sound restricting walls to be used at drill sites? If not, why not?
20. Will lights be used on the drill site? Will these lights be operational every night?
21. Large “flares” are typically part of the fracking process. How large in size will “flares” associated with drilling projects be? How many feet of stack? How many feet of the actual “flaming flare?” And, will these “flares” remain after the drilling has been completed and will they run all night?
22. Will there be compressor stations and separation plants associated with the gas well drilling projects? If so, where will they be located?
23. Why did the PA DEP take important oversight away from County Conservation Districts – and instead, “streamline” all oversight through the PA DEP, which is currently overworked and extremely understaffed?
24. How many PA DEP inspectors are currently employed in PA? In this county?
25. How often will PA DEP inspectors be on site at this drilling site? How often during the drilling process ? And how often after the wells are drilled?
26. What air quality monitoring will be performed? How will the results be made public?
3. Close to Home-By Bob Donnan (Please request newsletter to view Bob's photos)
(This presentation is still relevant and can be used as a basis for constructing our own statements. Jan)
“We’ve lived in Peters Township for 34 years…
I’m pleased to say that I strongly participated in an effort four years ago that helped prevent our township council members from signing a lease for ALL our township parks and school properties with Chesapeake Energy.
Chesapeake was also after ALL our township public properties including the schools, so I also did a presentation in front of the school board before most people were even aware of drilling and fracking in our school district.”
Below is the presentation Bob made to the school board in May 2010:
“ The Marcellus Shale gas rush is upon us.
Most people in this room probably don’t know what it looks like, or smells like, but they have heard about the money.
It’s very tempting for municipalities and school districts to lease public lands for drilling.
Some go so far as to say it isn’t “fiscally responsible” not to consider leasing.
I feel it is not “responsible,” especially for a school district, to lease land for drilling.
Why do I say that?
Due to a concern for student health over fiscal health.
Marcellus Shale drilling has already affected our tap water. Most people have read about problems with high TDS, or total dissolved solids, in the Mon River.
All of us have had our tap water affected to varying degrees over the past 2 years.
This is increasingly due to Marcellus Shale drilling, since each well requires so much water to fracture, and in turn creates so much wastewater to dispose of.
But my concern tonight is making you aware of the serious air quality issues around drilling.
While natural gas may burn cleaner than coal, its final footprint may be worse.
Mayor Calvin Tillman of DISH Texas recently visited Midway to share his experiences related to air quality and drilling.
The mayor reminded us that once the gas wells are drilled, pipelines and compressor stations soon follow.
Compressor stations, in addition to condensate tanks and methane leaks, add to air quality woes.
One of Mayor Tillman’s major points was that there are some places they shouldn’t drill for gas: Near parks, playgrounds, hospitals and schools.
Thanks again Calvin!
As these handouts will remind you, children are much more vulnerable to problems from air pollution than adults.
Some will say school children can be protected by signing “no drill” leases. But whether or not the drilling occurs on school property, or under it, the final effect will be the same.
Gas wells, even after they are drilled, are known for emitting BTEX’s (benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene) since these are usually present in the condensate tanks around gas well heads.
I am here tonight to encourage this school board not to lease any school property for gas production.
Your leasing of school property for drilling would add to water and air quality problems from drilling.
Lest we forget, we live in a part of Pennsylvania where we have to burn special gasoline every summer, due to bad air quality.
Added to our county’s air problems are the 16 counties that surround us with similar “non-attainment” of national air quality standards.
Washington County, just like Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Westmoreland counties, fail the air quality test on 3 counts – Ozone, particulate matter and nitrogen oxide.
Our 17-county area ranks right up there with the 4 or 5 top areas in the US with the worst air quality.
One of Bob’s handouts that night using EPA data
PTSD = Peters Township School District
One of Bob’s handouts that night using EPA data
PTSD = Peters Township School District
(Numbers indicate number of criteria failed. Jan)
Will this board add to this pollution, or make the tougher, more responsible decision to protect our school children? Time will tell.
Please spend the time necessary to study all the health issues and remember that your main purpose is serving children’s best interests and protecting their health.”
Chesapeake brought in their first-string team of boys from Oklahoma and applied the full court press, but council did not sign in the end. Small victories!
Bob Donnan “
4. Pre- Testing Of Air Near Airport Drill Site
Who is Monitoring Air in Westmoreland County where we have no Dept. of Health?
Mar 14 – “The Allegheny County Health Department has begun monitoring air quality near Pittsburgh International Airport in anticipation of the natural gas drilling planned for the area.
Mobile air testing equipment in Washington County, Pa
Jim Thompson, deputy director of environmental health for the department, said that monitoring, which will measure for 61 different "volatile organic compounds," began March 6.
Photo from Bob Donnan
5. Seismic Testing by Bob Donnan
“Whether it’s ‘Thumper Trucks’ or kilo-sized (2.2 lbs) charges of dynamite,
everyone knows seismic testing can do serious damage to buildings and water wells.
Thumper trucks lower this pad onto roadways to lift the weight of the truck and put vibrations into the ground, with 3 or 4 trucks running in tandem. They are supposed to reduce the strength of vibrations close to homes & water wells.
Yesterday I had a chance to photograph the home of a victim of seismic testing. It is actually Ron Gulla’s cousin’s house on Linden Creek Road. Ron tells me his cousin always had a good, strong water well until Thumper Trucks traversed the road which is fairly close to the front of his house. A large water buffalo now adorns the side yard.”
6. Protestors Arrested Halting Fracking in Tiadaghton State Forest
Marcellus Shale Earth First!
“In the pre-dawn hours, activists with Marcellus Shale EarthFirst!, Pennsylvania residents and students took action to halt Anadarko’s fracking operation in the Tiadaghton State Forest. Protestors blocked the only access road to a wellpad by locking themselves to barrels of concrete, preventing workers from entering the site. At this time the police have placed at least two people in handcuffs and one person has been cut out of the blockade. The activists are demanding an immediate halt to all plans for new drilling on Pennsyvlania’s public lands.
All the blockaders have been removed after blocking the wellpad for 4 hours. A solidarity rally was held at Anadarko’s corporate offices in Williamsport, PA.
“The public lands of Pennsylvania belong to all Pennsylvanians,” said Michael Badges-Canning, retired school teacher from Butler County who attended the protest. “It is my obligation as a resident of the Commonwealth and a grandparent to protect our wild heritage, our pristine waters and the natural beauty for my grandchildren, Dougie and Lochlin.”
Gov. Corbett (R-PA) has recently issued an executive order to open Pennsylvania’s remaining public lands for fracking. This includes state forests that have been off limits to gas companies since 2010, when then Gov. Rendell declared a moratorium on any new leases. The moratorium came in the wake of a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) study that concluded no remaining state owned lands were suitable for oil and gas development without significant surface disruptions. Gov. Corbett’s current move to lift the multi-year ban ignores the negative effects that new leases will have on Pennsylvania’s most ecologically sensitive forests, including those where species are at risk.”
7. Two Views of Colorado’s New Regs
***Colorado First State To Pass Meaningful Regs on Fracking Pollution
“This is a model for the country,” said Dan Grossman, the defense fund’s Rocky Mountain regional director. Over the course of a year, the new regulations will remove enough volatile organic compounds from the air to equal those emitted by every car and truck in the state, backers said.
“These rules punish rural Colorado for smog created by Boulder and Denver,” said state Senator Greg Brophy, a Republican from Wray seeking his party’s nomination to run against Hickenlooper for governor in November.
America’s dirtiest secret
Brophy said in testimony on the rules last week. “Let’s not be the first state in the nation to regulate methane.”
Emissions during oil and gas operations represent the state’s largest source of volatile organic compounds that contribute to the formation of ozone, a ground-level pollutant linked to respiratory problems and decreased crop yields. Parts of Colorado violate national air quality standards for ozone.
The mandates are also the first attempt by a state to regulate methane emissions from fracking. The main component of natural gas, methane is 20 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, according to the EPA.
“When I talk with my counterparts about air pollution issues, the first thing that comes up is tanks,” he told the air quality board. “We’re proposing a first-in-the-nation set of rules that would address this very important problem.”
The regulations require companies to install equipment to minimize leakage of toxic gases and to control or capture 95 percent of emissions.
Energy producers would be required to routinely inspect well sites for leaks, as often as once a month, depending on how much oil or gas a well produces. When leaks are discovered, they must be fixed within 15 days.
The Air Pollution Control Division estimated costs at $40 million, while industry economists said they would be $100 million.
Companies supporting the rules said while they need time to invest in expensive equipment and to hire and train personnel on new systems, they are willing to shoulder the costs.
“We estimate it’s going to cost Noble Energy $3 million dollars a year to comply with this rule,” testified Brian Lockard, the company’s director of environmental, health, safety and regulatory, at the hearing. “We project we’re going to have to hire 16 additional people.”
Noble runs about 8,000 wells in the Denver-Julesburg Basin, where it plans to invest $12 billion over the next five years. Noble and Anadarko undertake 80 percent of all operations in the basin. Anadarko operates about 5,000 wells there and expects to invest $2 billion in the region this year.
Anadarko said the emissions mandates are necessary to ensure the companies’ investments pay off.”
***The Good, Bad and Ugly in Colorado’s New Fracking Air Emissions Rules
The Good News
Colorado’s new drilling and fracking air quality regulations will cut Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions as well as methane emissions from oil and gas wells and facilities. VOCs lead to ozone and other air quality problems which cause asthma attacks and other health problems. And methane is a serious greenhouse gas that must be better addressed if our planet has any hope of controlling climate change.
The degree of the cut in both of these pollutants is debatable—somewhere between 20 – 40 percent—because the new regulations don’t require that all drilling companies comply, or that all facilities comply, and allow any company to ask for a waiver if the cost is deemed too onerous. But on the whole, any cut is better than no cut. Coloradans can breathe a little easier, for a little while.
The Bad News
Unfortunately, Colorado’s drilling and fracking landscape is not a zero-sum game because about 2,000 new wells are being drilled every year. These new regulations won’t slow down fracking one single bit and may actually help increase air pollution and climate change emissions. If you cut emissions by ~30 percent and drill more and more wells, pretty soon the total amount of emissions and pollution will come out even with where it is now and will get worse as more wells are drilled.
Colorado currently has 53,000 active wells and the industry predicts 50,000 more will be drilled in the next 30 years in addition to the redrilling and refracking of current active wells. With these new regulations in place, at about 70,000 total wells our air pollution will be the same as it is now; at 100,000 wells, our air pollution will be ~35 percent worse. By cutting emissions, but by not stopping drilling and fracking altogether, these new rules will lead to worse air pollution, increased climate change emissions, as well as our suburban landscapes being swarmed with well pads spewing cancer-causing chemicals in the air and on the ground.
The Ugly News
These new regulations may actually undermine local democracy and the necessary change in policy that needs to happen in Colorado. Over the past 18 months, local democracy has flourished in Colorado as voters supported fracking bans in Longmont, Boulder, Lafayette, Broomfield and Fort Collins. In fact, it is these election outcomes that forced industry to the negotiating table to support the new rules.
As one participant from the Environmental Defense Fund stated publicly: “The industry’s social license to do business is under attack in Colorado and the political dynamics made a strong negotiated settlement attractive.” In other words, even though the industry had spent over a million dollars fighting the local elections, they lost and so they cut a deal with the Governor and a few frack-happy environmental groups to try and save their asses.
By supporting this “attractive settlement,” these environmental groups’ efforts have now bolstered the social license of this polluting and climate-destroying industry. If your social license to do business is destroying the planet, shouldn’t that license be revoked? Instead, the deal could derail the ongoing forward movement of authentic, grassroots, political change supported by voters in Colorado cities with more than 400,000 citizens towards banning fracking and switching our economy away from fossil fuels.
This mad rush to drill and frack in Colorado was initially supported by two assumptions: 1) that natural gas has less greenhouse gas emissions than coal and thus is a “bridge fuel” to fight climate change, and 2) that American oil and gas makes us “energy independent.”
Both of these assumptions have been proven false.
The mad rush to drill and frack in Colorado and across the U.S. is accompanied by an equally mad rush to build pipelines to get that oil and gas to the coast so it can be shipped overseas where the international oil and gas corporations can sell it for a higher price. Those corporations don’t fight with missiles and ground troops here in America; they fight with hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying, influencing elections, and polluting our democracy to make sure our 100 percent dependency on their product continues.”
8. Act 13 Suit Cited in Tri-County Landfill Case
By Bernard A. Labuskes, Jr., Judge
Environmental hearing Board
EHB Docket No. 2013-185-L
March 11, 2014
“The Board grants a petition to intervene filed by individuals who live, work, and/or recreate near the site of a proposed landfill.
Tri-County Landfill, Inc. (“Tri-County”) filed this appeal from the DEPs denial of its application for a municipal waste landfill permit at a site in Pine and Liberty Townships, Mercer County. Ray Yourd, Diana Hardisky, Eric and Polly Lindh, Bill and Lisa Pritchard, Ann and Dave Dayton, and Doug Bashline (the “Petitioners”), who support the Department’s decision to deny the permit, have filed a petition to intervene. Their petition, which is supported by verifications, alleges that they all live, work, and/or recreate in close proximity to the site of the proposed landfill, and that the landfill will likely have a detrimental impact upon their economic and environmental well-being. Tri-County opposes the petition.
In order to assess whether the Petitioners have standing to intervene in this appeal, we need look no further than the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Robinson Township. The Court in that case, among other things, addressed the standing of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (the “Network”), a citizen’s group, and Maya van Rossum the group’s Executive Director, to challenge Act 13 of 2012, a statute amending the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, 58 Pa.C.S. §§ 2301-3504. In support of its standing, the Network emphasized the deleterious effects of industrial activities close to its members’ homes, including potential effects on their health and their ability to enjoy natural beauty, environmental resources, and recreational activities such as fishing, boating, swimming, and bird-watching. Citing Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, 528 U.S. 167, 183 (2000), the Network alleged that its members used the affected area and that they were persons for whom the aesthetic and recreational values of that area would be lessened by the challenged activity. The Network said that environmental well-being, like economic well-being, is an important ingredient of the quality of life, and the fact that environmental interests are shared by the many rather than the few does not make them less deserving of legal protection through the judicial process.
Based upon these allegations, the Court held that the Network and Maya van Rossum had standing. Robinson Twp., slip op. at 22.
The affidavits asserted that the individuals were likely to suffer considerable harm with respect to the values of their existing homes and the enjoyment of their properties given the intrusion of industrial uses and the change in the character of their zoning districts effected by Act 13. The Court held that the individuals had a substantial and direct interest in the outcome of the litigation premised upon the serious risk of alteration to the physical nature of their respective political subdivisions and the components of their surrounding environment. Id. The Court’s holding made it clear that “this interest is not remote.” Id. at 17-18.
Tri-County says that some of the petitioners do not actually live or work in the immediate vicinity of the landfill. Even if that were true, we have repeatedly held that it is the person’s use of the area and whether the project threatens that use by, e.g., lessening the aesthetic and recreational value of the area that qualifies for purposes of standing.”
9. Industry Defines Drilling Treadmill
Comment on Industry’s Dr. Cline by Deborah Rogers
**The Department of Energy followed USGS’ lead and slashed their estimates for the Marcellus by 66% admitting that the entire Marcellus play will now account for a mere six years worth of gas at current consumption rates. Prior erroneous estimates provided by industry were based on resource numbers rather than actual recoverable reserves with existing technology.
It is also interesting to note that both Poland and India invited the USGS to evaluate their reserve estimates recently after industry projections and again such reserves were slashed by 80-90%. A pattern is clearly emerging.
**Dr. Cline states that there is no dry hole risk in shale development. He is mistaken. It is commonly known that each shale play has contracted to a core area. Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy told Bloomberg that “there was a time when you were all told that any of the 17 counties in the Barnett were as good as any other county. We found out that there are 2-2 1/2 counties where you really want to be.”
Further, well performance is not homogenous even in the core areas. ITG Investment Research, also quoted by Bloomberg, stated “one parcel of land may hold enough fuel to justify prices…while the adjacent land is almost worthless to drillers”. This is essentially dry hole risk.
** Dr Cline stated that even if a natural gas play is in production decline, it does not necessarily mean the play is over..it simply means the well development rate is not keeping up with current production declines…so where is that treadmill?”
He is clearly unaware that he just defined the drilling treadmill. Well development rate is not keeping up with current production declines. These companies have to keep up prolific and continuous drilling in order to keep production from falling . If you have little to no cash on your balance sheet and very high debt then production is how you meet debt service. If you stop drilling, production falls and so does cash flow and hence it becomes difficult to meet debt service. This is not a difficult concept to grasp. But I should like to thank EID again for their admission that well development rates are not keeping up with current production declines.” Deborah Rogers
10. How Billions of Barrels Of Toxic Oil/ Gas Waste Are Not Regulated By Jefferson Dodge and Joel Dyer
“We often hear of the “Halliburton loophole,” the regulatory exemption that in 2005exempted the industry in 2005 from the Safe Drinking Water Act. But the Halliburton loophole is just one small exemption to federal regulations for the oil and gas industry. There are many others.
The mother of all oil and gas waste exemptions had its beginnings in 1978 when the EPA proposed reduced requirements for types of large-volume wastes associated with the oil and gas industry, namely produced water and drilling muds.
The modern version of the Subtitle C exemption fictitiously purports that the reason for reducing requirements for oil and gas waste was because these large-volume wastes were deemed to be “lower in toxicity” and therefore not as much of a threat to human health and the environment as other wastes being regulated under Subtitle C. You can find such statements throughout the websites and literature of local, state and federal government regulators of toxic waste and in industry marketing materials.
But it is simply not true. According to a 2002 EPA report on the RCRA oil and gas exemption, “The oil and gas exemption was expanded in the 1980 legislative amendments to RCRA to include “drilling fluids, produced water, and other wastes associated with the exploration, development, or production of crude oil or natural gas. . . .”
By the time they had finished defining “other wastes,” every single ounce of toxic waste generated by the process of exploring for and/or producing oil and gas had been removed from RCRA’s hazardous waste oversight.
What EPA did say is a startling indictment of our system of environmental and public health oversight.
EPA’s report found that “oil, gas, and geothermal wastes originate in very diverse ecologic settings and contain a wide variety of hazardous constituents.”
EPA further found that “Imposition of Subtitle C regulations for all oil and gas wastes could subject billions of barrels of waste to regulation under Subtitle C as hazardous wastes and would cause a severe economic impact on the industry and on oil and gas production in the U.S. Additionally, because a large part of these wastes is managed in off-site commercial facilities, removal of the exemption could cause severe short-term strains on the capacity of Subtitle C Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities, and a significant increase in the Subtitle C permitting burden for State and Federal hazardous waste programs.”
The report concluded that regulating toxic oil and gas exploration and production waste under RCRA Subtitle C would not give the agency the “flexibility to consider costs when applying these requirements to oil and gas wastes. Consequently, EPA would not be able to craft a regulatory program to reduce or eliminate the serious economic impacts that it has predicted.”
Even though this waste is hazardous to human health and the environment, EPA is going to exempt it from the federal laws written to protect the public from toxic waste because the problem is so massive (billions upon billions of barrels) that it would make it literally impossible to drill for oil and gas in the U.S. if the industry had to pick up the tab for remediating the contamination it creates.
It is just math. More than 10 barrels of waste are created for every barrel of oil. Having to properly deal with this waste to Subtitle C standards would be so cost-prohibitive as to be a threat to our economy and, therefore, our security. And besides, the industry creates so much toxic waste that EPA was concerned that we couldn’t possibly find enough places to safely store it, so we might as well just make it legal to get rid of it wherever. In fact, there are so many billions and billions of barrels of toxic waste being created by the industry that the EPA was afraid that the federal government wasn’t capable of creating a bureaucratic licensing system large and efficient enough to produce enough permits to make the creation, transportation and disposal of the waste legal on paper. And finally, the government doesn’t want to cut into industry profits.
This is the real history of oil and gas toxic waste regulations in this country, whether it’s drilling fluids, mud, produced water, radioactive sludge and scale or fracking fluid. As hard as it is for most people to believe, there is virtually no regulation on the vast majority of the oil and gas industry’s waste at any level of government.
There are plenty of “policies and guidance” concerning this waste — at least that’s what government likes to call them.
“Suggestions” is the word most of us tend to use for the same meaning.
Literally everyone is using some version of legalese to claim that every other regulatory agency has authority over this waste when, in truth, no one does for the most part.
Some states, like Colorado, even have statutes on the books prohibiting their state regulatory agencies from creating any enforceable laws on oil and gas toxic waste unless and until the EPA ends its exemption, which of course it says it doesn’t need to do because the states have it covered. It is a dangerous game for all of us.
The real numbers of how much exempted exploration and production waste we are talking about is hard to come by because the government relies on the industry to provide them.
The industry has received some level of exemptions from virtually every major environmental act that has come to pass, from clean air to clean water to safe drinking water to even Superfund’s ability to hold the industry accountable for paying for the contamination it has caused.
Denver resident Dennis Schum’s job at John Crane was to repair and refurbish seals of various types and sizes that are used in the oil and gas industry as well as other industries that use high-pressured systems with large pumps. HE says he never heard the term TENORM until 2013, but it’s a constant part of his vocabulary these days. But first a little background.
These formations most often also contain elements of uranium and thorium and their decay products such as Radium 226 and Radium 228. In short, when the oil and gas in these formations is produced, so is radioactive salt water, which is referred to as produced water.
The BW spoke with Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, a physicist at Radioactive Waste Management Associates and a national expert on the oil and gas industry’s TENORM scale. Resnikoff says workers who work in pipe yards that clean TENORM scale from pipes are getting major doses of radiation.
“It’s like working in front of an x-ray machine that never turns off all day long,” he says.
Even people living nearby such pipe yards who were subjected to TENORM scale particles blowing in the wind could become sick and develop cancers and other illnesses, Resnikoff said.
“The more concerning threat from oil and gas generated TENORM,” says the technician, “is inhalation.” He says Radium 226 has a half-life of 1,600 years and Radium 228 has a half-life of approximately 5.7 years.
“If even one particle is inhaled,” he explains, “it can lodge in the lungs and cause damage to tissue for the rest of a person’s life.
Such damage can include cancers and other serious illnesses.”
The EPA’s posted warnings for radium inhalation confirm the technician’s analysis.
Dennis Schum is getting more desperate every day. He feels like there is no place for him to turn in order to find out what radiation and chemicals were in the scale of the hundreds of seals he cleaned over the past eight years. He is only now beginning to realize just how unregulated the world of oil and gas waste really is. He gets told that no regulations were broken, but he never hears the truth, that there are no regulations to break. He’s more concerned about his health than ever and can’t figure out where to turn next.
He says he’s thinking about making a sign and heading to the steps of the state Capitol. He says, “Maybe then someone will hear me.”
11. How Chesapeake Fracks Landowners
by CHIP NORTHRUP “At the end of 2011, Chesapeake Energy, was teetering on the brink of failure. The money could be borrowed, but only on onerous terms. Chesapeake, which had burned money on a lavish steel-and-glass office complex in Oklahoma City even while the selling price for its gas plummeted, already had too much debt.
In the months that followed, Chesapeake executed an adroit escape, raising nearly $5 billion with a previously undisclosed twist: By gouging many rural landowners out of royalty payments by charging back “transportation fees”- that Chesapeake was paying to its financiers.
In lawsuits in state after state, private landowners have won cases accusing the companies like Chesapeake of stiffing them on royalties they were due. Federal investigators have repeatedly identified underpayments of royalties for drilling on federal lands, including a case in which Chesapeake was fined $765,000 for “knowing or willful submission of inaccurate information” last year.
Here’s how one farmer got fracked by the frackers:
“When the first gas flowed from the well on Drake’s land in July 2012, it was abundant, and the royalty checks were fat…. That year, many Pennsylvania landowners began receiving similarly sized payments as thousands of new wells – many of them drilled by Chesapeake — finally began producing gas.
But then, in January 2013, without warning or explanation, the expenses withheld from Chesapeake’s royalty checks for use of the gathering pipelines tripled. Drake’s income dwindled. His contract with Chesapeake – and Pennsylvania law that sets a minimum royalty share in the state – promised him at least 12.5 % of the value of the gas. Drake says the company led him to believe any expenses withheld would be negligible. “Well, they lied.”
His brother-in-law had 94 % of his gas income withheld to pay for what Chesapeake called “gathering fees” for getting the gas to a transmission line. Others across the northern part of the state also saw their income slashed.
“I’ve got a stack,” said Taunya Rosenbloom, a lawyer representing Pennsylvania landowners with natural gas leases. She pulled the statements of all of her Chesapeake clients into an eight-inch pile on her desk. “Everyone is having this issue.”
EAGLE FORD SHALE IN SOUTH TEXAS
Photo: Amy Youngs
The industry needs density of wells to be profitable. Is this what we want to live next to, or worse, in the midst of?
Dr. Susan Christopherson of Cornell University points out in the study “A Distinctive US Approach to Gas Shale Development” that the pace and scale of drilling is based on an investment strategy.” (Not consideration of environment or the health of the community).
12. Pipeline Leak Fouls Nature Preserve-Ohio
“A nature preserve in Ohio has added its name to the long list of victims of oil spills.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as much as 10,000 gallons of crude spilled in the Oak Glen Nature Preserve due to a pipeline leak.
Though the leak was reported around 8 PM Monday, area residents say they'd smelled petroleum or days.
The Mid-Valley Pipeline is owned primarily by Sunoco, and runs from Longview, Texas to Samaria, Michigan.
An investigation by the Colerain Township Fire Department Monday evening found that the spill "posed a significant threat" to the environment and wetlands of the preserve.”
13. Largest Anti-Fracking Rally in California History Draws Thousands
“They came in thousands from across the Golden State. On Saturday, the largest anti-fracking rally and protest in California’s history took place in the state capital of Sacramento.
The message to California Gov. Jerry Brown was simple: act now to ban fracking.
The rally was organized by Californians Against Fracking and some 80 environmental and health organizations, such as Oil Change International (OCI) and 350.org.
Protestors were young and old, united in their opposition to fracking. One group of grandmothers sang: “We don’t want your fracking turning all our water brown, Take your freakin’ frackin’ drills or we will shut you down! Hydro-FRAC-turing just sucks.”
“Governor Brown has positioned himself as a climate champion, and we want to make it clear that as he decides whether to green light a massive expansion of fracking in California, his legacy is on the line,” said rally organizer Zack Malitz.”
14. Texas Group Gets Signatures for Fracking Ban on Nov. Ballot
“Frack Free Denton announced they have gathered substantially more than the required signatures to put their fracking ban initiative on the November ballot. Denton City charter requires signatures equal to 25 % of votes cast in the most recent general election for an initiative to get on the ballot.
Denton Drilling Awareness Group (DAG), which was formed by members of the city’s Drilling Advisory Group after their recommendations were largely ignored by the city, launched Frack Free Denton, the fracking ban signature drive on Feb. 20.
Denton city government, which supports fracking-enabled oil and gas development within city limits, has a track record of ignoring its citizens and giving industry a free rein. Decisions are made in closed sessions without citizen input.
“Our city government is clearly more interested in protecting the fracking industry than its citizens,” said Cathy McMullen, DAG president. “That’s why we need to gather as many signatures as possible, to show they’ll pay a political price if they try to thwart their constituents’ wishes.”
“As far as I know, fracking companies can’t vote,” McMullen continued. “It makes one wonder why the city is prioritizing fracking over Denton’s public health, especially since Denton residents aren’t really economically benefiting from fracking.”
15. Fracking Industry Tries to Buy Democracy in Rural Illinois
“Johnson County, IL has oil and gas interests panicked about a local effort to stop fracking. They’re spending tens of thousands of dollars in the rural county to defeat a referendum that opposes fracking and defends local rights.
The referendum reads:
“Shall the people’s right to local self-government be asserted by Johnson County to ban corporate fracking as a violation of their rights to health, safety, and a clean environment?”
The industry and their cronies recently realized that voters are siding with local control instead of handing their future over to Kansas-based frackers Woolsey Energy. A front group for the oil industry started professional mailings and robo-calls possibly funded by the Illinois Petroleum Council which complain about “out-of-state” interests. Additionally, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce spent $23,500 to promote fracking. That’s a huge cash dump in a county where less than 3,000 people cast ballots in the last primary election.
Here’s a tip for the fracking forces: when you’re doing a mailing that gripes about out-of state-agitators, mail it from in-state. They should fire the consultant who had the bright idea of mailing it from Iowa.
The irony would be funny if the fracking industry weren’t pushing a community-killing agenda. It’s locals (not Kansas-based Woolsey Energy) who will have to suffer the consequences of fracking. Woolsey’s mansion won’t suffer when Johnson county property values fall. Woolsey will be counting his profits when local residents are dealing with poisoned water. His workers will be on their way to another state when Johnson county is left picking up the pieces after their roads, community infrastructure and environment are wrecked.”
16. Congressman Declares Wind Tax Credit ‘Dead’
“Companies across the country rushed to qualify for the wind production tax credit (PTC) in December, and for good reason—the chances of it returning seem even bleaker a few months later.
Because Republicans are seeking a broader tax overhaul this year, one representative says there’s virtually no hope of the PTC making a return this year.
“Maybe there will be some in the Senate who will try to revive it but I really do think it’s dead in the House,” U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-LA, told Bloomberg this week.
Don’t be surprised if there’s no movement to extend the wind production tax credit this year, one House representative said U.S. House of Representative Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, (R-MI), introduced a proposal last month that would retroactively reduce the credit from about 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour of produced energy to 1.5 cents. The incentive would then be eliminated in 10 years. Camp’s plan estimated that the PTC provision would increase revenues by $9.6 billion over time.
Meanwhile Obama’s recent budget proposal called for an extension and expansion of the PTC, to replace the investment tax credit, which displeased the solar industry.
As Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden assumed leadership of the Senate Finance Committee, he received a petition with 50,000 signatures calling for the renewal of the PTC. Before leaving the Senate to become the U.S. ambassador to China, Wyden’s predecessor, Max Baucus, proposed a consolidation of energy tax credits that would have preserved the PTC through 2016 before morphing its principals into one or two much broader credits.
“The wind industry has been and will continue to be engaged in tax-reform discussions,” Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said. “The Senate Finance Committee offered a very constructive approach to reform, in our view, and we look forward to working with Congress as debate over tax reform continues.”
17. Measuring Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Around Wind Turbines: Is There A Health Concern?
(This concern has caused some to oppose wind energy. Jan)
McCallum LC, Aslund ML, Knopper LD, Ferguson GM, Ollson CA. Measuring electromagnetic fields (EMF) around wind turbines in Canada: is there a human health concern? Environ Health. 2014 Feb 15;13(1):9. [Epub ahead of print]
The past five years has seen considerable expansion of wind power generation in Ontario, Canada. Most recently worries about exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) from wind turbines, and associated electrical transmission, has been raised at public meetings and legal proceedings. These fears have not been based on any actual measurements of EMF exposure surrounding existing projects but appear to follow from worries from internet sources and misunderstanding of the science.
Background levels of EMF (0.2 to 0.3 mG) were established by measuring magnetic fields around the wind turbines under the 'shut off' scenario. Magnetic field levels detected at the base of the turbines under both the 'high wind' and 'low wind' conditions were low (mean = 0.9 mG; n = 11) and rapidly diminished with distance, becoming indistinguishable from background within 2 m of the base. Magnetic fields measured 1 m above buried collector lines were also within background (<= 0.3 mG). Beneath overhead 27.5 kV and 500 kV transmission lines, magnetic field levels of up to 16.5 and 46 mG, respectively, were recorded. These levels also diminished rapidly with distance. None of these sources appeared to influence magnetic field levels at nearby homes located as close as just over 500 m from turbines, where measurements immediately outside of the homes were <= 0.4 mG.
The results suggest that there is nothing unique to wind farms with respect to EMF exposure; in fact, magnetic field levels in the vicinity of wind turbines were lower than those produced by many common household electrical devices and were well below any existing regulatory guidelines with respect to human health.
Above Photo: “Carter Impoundment Pit
How can you call that water?” Photo and Caption by Bob Donnan